Ragged Company

Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese

A group of chronically homeless people – the ragged company – Amelia One Sky, Timber, Double Dick and Digger take refuge from a descending Arctic front by taking in movies at an old theatre. They enter the world of cinematic escapism and also meet Granite, a jaded and lonely journalist who has given up writing. Together they form an unlikely band. The bonds between them are made stronger when Digger discovers a winning Image result for ragged companylottery ticket worth $13.5 million, on his daily route digging for cast offs he can exchange for money. None of the four can claim their winnings for lack of a fixed address, but by enlisting the help of Granite they try to change their lives and fortunes forever.

This novel explores the meaning of the word home as Wagamese reconnects his characters to  their various histories and their dreams for the future.

The story is told by each of the characters in turn using first person, past tense. Of the five main characters Wagamese has succeeded in giving a distinct and recognizable voice to only 2. I found myself flipping back numerous times to see who was telling the story when any of the other 3 characters took up the tale.

I found it difficult to believe in the characters as they were often doing things, saying things that were not suited to their particular persona. Wagamese tells us many times that “rounders” (those who have been around a long time on the street) don’t talk about their pasts, don’t bare themselves to others and yet, at the slightest hint of “well maybe you should tell your story” one after the other of the four spills their story to an assembled group of 5 people. Often in these revelations the characters take on, what I assume is, the voice of the author. The vocabulary and turns of phrase are completely out of character for the particular rounder speaking.

The rags to riches story is a popular one and Wagamese gives it a fair go, but again, I found it to be less than believable.

Because of the lack of credence of the story and characters and the resultant lack of trust in the author, the novel quickly became a difficult read for me.

All in all, if I were awarding stars, I would give this book 1 out of 5.

If someone feels otherwise after having read Ragged Company I would love to read your comments.

Review by Christine

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Fairy School Drop-out: Over the Rainbow

Fairy School Drop-out: Over the Rainbow by Meredith Badger

“Fairies love granting wishes, right? Well, Elly doesn’t. But then again, Elly is not exactly your average fairy. She’s hopeless at Extreme Flying, always messes up her spells and is constantly getting into trouble.Cover art

But then Elly’s strict grandmother sends her over the rainbow to boarding school. Will Elly the fairy school drop-out finally become a proper fairy?

Over the Rainbow is one of the Fairy School Drop-out Junior level chapter books. It will appeal to young fairy lovers from 7 to 10 years of age. They will love to read about Elly and all of her adventures and will cheer her on in all of them.

This is a book about being true to yourself while staying within the bounds of good behaviour: a sometimes difficult feat. It is also about loyalty to friends and family.

A good read.

Review by Christine

Atlas of Bird Migration

Atlas of Bird Migration by Jonathan Elphick

Every spring I am amazed at the return of birds that have flown south for the winter. The distances they cover and the obstacles they overcome are enormous. How do they find their way? How long does it take them to fly the entire journey? How do they know it is time to return?

Published in 2007, Atlas of Bird Migration is a full-colour guide to the mysteries of bird migration that features all of the latest science, including the results of advanced satellite tracking methods. It contains an illustrated introduction that explains the background to bird migration: flight techniques, navigation, feeding, timing, staging posts and biology. Computer-generated maps trace the migration routes of more than one hundred species. Information on size, weight and wingspan, journey, distance and timing is provided. The routes of 500 migrant bird species are cataloged.

The essays in this book focus on environmental threats to migratory species and conservation initiatives worldwide. It also includes bird watching tips about the best times and places to observe migrants.

This superb publication is a great resource for students. It is also an excellent read for serious birders as well as those, such as myself, who just want to know.

Review by Christine

Tuck Everlasting

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Doomed to- or blessed with Рeternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten year old Winnie Foster Disney's Tuck Everlasting (Sous-titres fran̤ais)stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing than it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.

The major characters are Winnie Foster, Jesse Tuck, Mae Tuck, Miles Tuck and Tuck. The story is set in rural “America” in the late 1800’s and written in omniscient voice. The theme is good vs evil and the story has a bitter sweet ending.

Interest Level: ages 13 -18

Review by Christine

Extraordinary

Extraordinary by David Gilmour

“Over the course of one Saturday night, a brother and sister meet at her request to spend the evening preparing for her assisted death. They drink and reminisce fondly, sadly, amusingly, about their past…A gentle consideration of assisted suicide, Extraordinary is Image result for extraordinary by david gilmouralso a story about siblings – about how brothers an sisters turn out so differently: about how little, in fact, turns out the way we expect.”

This story is told in the third person, past tense and flows easily from page to page. The dialogue is superb and realistic, the characters believable.

The ending is a bit abrupt, but perhaps that is intended to portray the sudden end to life, no matter how well planned.  I felt as though I had been left hanging, details about what ensues for the assistant, missing from the narrative. Even with that, I would recommend this as a quick and satisfying read.

Review by Christine

Goodnight Grizzle Grump!

Goodnight Grizzle Grump! by Aaron Blecha

It’s time for Grizzle Grump to hibernate and he can’t wait. Each time he thinks he’s found a good spot there is too much noise for him to sleep. Will Grizzle Grump ever find the perfect place for his long winter nap?Image result for good night grizzle grump!

This beautiful picture book is for 4 to 8 year old children. It goes through the typical story telling pattern of things happening in threes before reaching a satisfactory conclusion.  The repetition of words will help young readers recognize them as well as making it somewhat predictable and comfortable for little ones to listen to.

The action and sound effects will make it a favourite bedtime read.

Review by Christine

Flint and Feather

Flint and Feather by E. Pauline Johnson

I have recently discovered the poetry section in Lanark Highlands Public Library. It is ,in very large part, comprised of Canadian works.Flint and Feather; The Complete Poems by  E. Pauline Johnson - Hardcover - Reprint - 1931 - from Dave Shoots, Bookseller and Biblio.com

Flint and Feather is the complete collections of poems by E. Pauline Johnson, a native Mohawk. The small book was published in 1912 and the copy at our library is the twenty second edition. Though the poems are from another era they are in no way outdated.  In her work she expresses the intensity and passion as well as the tragedy of the lives of her own people.

Her poems are powerful and captivating. I just couldn’t get enough. I re-read much of the book, devouring the imagery and emotion. In my opinion Ms. Johnson’s  poetry not only rivals but surpasses the works of Frost, Yeats and Keats in its ability to elicit strong reaction and sympathy in the reader.

If you read this poetry be prepared to be moved, to have your sensibilities challenged.

Review by Christine