Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast

Many of us in our `middle ages` are dealing with aging parents in various stages of decline.  Roz Chast, the writer and New Yorker cartoonist, uses the graphic novel format to document her journey through this challenging time in her memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

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From first noticing that things seem to be `falling apart`, to realizing that she must take control of the uncontrollable, and then on through moving her parents into care, and experiencing their passing, Chast weaves her story with humour, grace, and brutal honesty.

The most important messages I took from this endearing memoir are that:

  • we are not alone,
  • having a sense of humour is a survival skill, and,
  • in the midst of complicated family relationships and challenging situations there is still, always, love.

(Submitted by KS).

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Missing Nimâmâ by Melanie Florence

Image result for Missing NimâmâMissing Nimâmâ by Melanie Florence, winner of the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, is a lovely picture book for anyone’s collection. However, it is especially relevant for teachers looking for First Nations materials for the new BC Ministry of Education requirements, or for anyone who has read the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and wants to dig deeper into the stories of Canada’s First Nations. It introduces the topic of Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in a format that is accessible to young children.

The story of a young girl growing up is told in the voices of the girl and her missing mother. The lovely, wistful illustrations reflect the emotions of the daughter who is missing her mother, and the mother who can no longer raise her daughter.  The sweet and touching relationship between the girl and the grandmother who raises her prevents the story from becoming too overwhelmingly sad. An interesting addition to the text is a Cree glossary of words which are both included in the text and hidden in the illustrations. More information and statistics on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada are included at the end of the book for those who want to go a bit deeper. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about Canada’s relationship to its indigenous people. (Submitted by Rebecca).

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Pass the Masala: vegetarian Indian cooking made simple by Bharti Saincher

Image result for pass the masala book coverIn Pass the Masala, Surrey local Bharti Saincher gives us Indian recipes that she has perfected for decades. She has also included a few favourite recipes from China, Thailand, and Mexico. Unlike traditional Indian cooking, she has made an effort to reduce the amount of butter and/or oil to the minimum needed to make the dish delicious and she embraces using modern kitchen conveniences if it makes cooking more efficient or effective.

I enjoyed this cookbook because Bharti Saincher also educates us on the history of foods in certain regions, different techniques for cooking, and the parts of a traditional Indian meal. She gives quick tips on how to adjust if a dish is too salty/dry/runny/etc. The book includes an in-depth reference guide and very thorough instructions that make Indian cooking less daunting to those of us who may not have cooked Indian dishes. My mouth is watering! (Submitted by Meghan).

Meet Bharti Saincher in person at Authors Among Us: Foodie February at Guildford Library tomorrow, Wed, Feb 15 at 6:30pm. Call 604-598-7366 to save your spot!

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Stargold the Food Fairy by Claudia Lemay

Image result for stargold the food fairyIn Stargold the Food Fairy: an exciting adventure that illustrates the importance of nutrition to children, registered dietitian Claudia Lemay makes the often daunting subject of nutrition entertaining and informative.This is a fun, quick read jam packed with practical advice that will please young and old alike. Ideal for kids and parents to read together! (Submitted by AM).

Meet author Claudia Lemay at Authors Among Us: Foodie February at Guildford Library on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 6:30pm. Light refreshments will be served. Call 604-598-7366 to save your spot!

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Tamar by Mal Peet

Image result for tamar book coverTamar by Mal Peet is a YA novel set in the Netherlands during WWII, and tells the story of two young Dutch men, Tamar and Dart,  who are members of the British Secret Service, sent to the Netherlands to assist the Dutch Resistance.  The narrative alternates between a female narrator in current day Britain, the granddaughter of one of the young soldiers seeking information about her now-deceased grandfather, and a male voice telling the war story in the 1940s.  Both voices are spectacular, and their two stories are gripping in their own way.  I especially enjoyed the tale of the resistance fighters, the reality of the conditions they find themselves in, and the tragic love triangle in which they become embroiled.  This audiobook was excellent, and I’m sure it is also an excellent read. (Submitted by Ginny).

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Maggie’s Chopsticks by Alan Woo

Image result for maggie's chopsticksMaggie’s Chopsticks by Alan Woo is a beautiful picture book that tells the story of young Maggie, the only one in her family who is incapable of holding her chopsticks correctly. As Maggie struggles to match the mastery of her grandmother and the grace of her older sister, we are enveloped in the tastes, smells, sights, and sounds of a family meal. Woo’s sparse and poetic language combined with Isabelle Malenfant’s beautiful illustrations create the perfect book to read with your family during the Lunar New Year. (Submitted by Meghan S.).

Meet author Alan Woo at Authors Among Us: Foodie February at Guildford Library on Wed, Feb 15 at 6:30pm. Call 604-598-7366 to save your spot.

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Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Image result for faithful book cover alice hoffmanFaithful is the tale of Shelby, a teenager who survives a horrific car accident that leaves her best friend in a coma and Shelby with depression, survivor’s guilt, and PTSD. Her promising young life takes an abrupt swerve into the dark and unknown, and we follow Shelby along into adulthood.

It’s a simple story, really, and driven mostly by the mere passing of Shelby’s years. But it’s beautiful. I said “tale” earlier, because it’s not just a story about a woman, it’s a tale of redemption, of forgiveness, of romance and of mothers and daughters. Just a whisper around the edges of a fairy tale element – some symbolism, for those on the lookout for that sort of thing, and slow, gradual progress from unhappy to happy.

For those who like sad but happy books, rescuing stray dogs, complicated female characters, and Chinese takeout. I loved it. (Submitted by Veronica).

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