It’s (supposed to be) getting colder, a time for hibernation, and you may be wondering how, in the days of lengthening darkness, to peel your kids off that cozy couch. How can all of their senses and their imaginations be engaged without an LED screen? Jennifer Ward’s answer – take them outdoors. She provides 52 simple, free (or at least very inexpensive), appealing activities, divided by season, that will stimulate quiet skills. Skills like observation, concentration, curiosity, wonder, discovery, and even problem solving. Autumn is a great time to be an ‘animal sleuth’, and early winter nights are great for finding ‘the hunter’, ‘big bear’ and even the ‘lion’ in the dark sky. Each activity challenges both parent and child to think about their surroundings with interesting questions, for which there are rarely wrong answers, and provides “Help me understand” mini-boxes with answers to questions like, “Do ants have noses?” and “How are snowflakes made?” (but unfortunately not “why is the sky blue?”). For those super-inquisitive minds, the author has included recommended reading lists for adults and children, and a handy list of websites that can be visited together – if you can pry them away from the great outdoors.
Find this book in the PCIN Library Catalogue here.
In the Stratford Gazette on November 21, 2008

By Charles Wilkins

It is more appropriate for a Halloween column perhaps, but this quirky and very unusual memoir only came across my desk in early November, after it was discussed on CBC Radio’s “Ontario Today” program. The author spent five months in the turbulent year of 1969 as a gravedigger in a re-named cemetery in an unnamed Ontario town, where he met a legion of re-named, morally suspect undertakers, grounds crewmen, plot salesmen and even mourners. It is the type of summer job one might think would have inspired Stephen King, but the tales revealed by Wilkins – a National Magazine Award-winner – reveal not so much the gory and horrific, but rather the often sad, awful truths about the business of after-death (for instance, what would happen if grave-diggers went on strike?), and the ways that its employees create their own rules to cope. Told with brutal honesty and a lot of coarse language, this book is not for the faint of heart, and absolutely not for anyone needing closure, comfort and solace about a dearly departed loved one. Readers with a macabre sense of humour and those who like shock value however, will be amazed at the odd professional facts and grim philosophies Wilkins uncovered that summer he spent burying the deceased.
Reviewed in November 7, 2008.

Just in time for Remembrance Day comes a history of Canadian military regiments and their achievements. In four parts, historian David Bercuson starts with early Canadian military history, including aboriginal military practices and the first regiment, the Régiment Carignan-Salières. He then devotes sections to WWI, and WWII, with the fourth part devoted to 20th century contingents active during the Korean War, Cold War and in Afghanistan. An Honourary Lieutenant Colonel with the 33 Field Engineer Squadron, Bercuson even includes the Royal Newfoundland Regiment (often left out of other “Canadian” histories about the Great War since they were still a colony of Britain during WWI) whose designation of Royal came after their virtual decimation during the opening battle of the Somme at Beaumont-Hamel. The Fighting Canadians isn’t just a military history, it is a history of how our military companies have influenced our national development and our international reputation through the actions of the Princess Patricias, Hasty P’s, Van Doos and other famous companies. While it is not as exciting to read as an action-adventure novel, it is not mired in exhaustive details, so the sectioned chapters are easy to navigate and quite clear. The book could use more than its sixteen pages of photos, but those included tell a thousand more tales. Lest we forget.

Reserve your copy here.
Reviewed November 7, 2008

October was breast cancer awareness month - an estimated 22,570 women and men (yes, men) will be diagnosed with it in 2008 - so it is fitting that at its close we find a new book about this terrifyingly common disease. Dede Bonner, the "Question Doctor" actually provides 200 questions that those diagnosed with breast cancer are likely to have, and these are divided into three sections: talking to your medical team, choosing a treatment, and living and coping with the disease and its effects. Each of these three parts are broken down into further specific areas. For example in the 'choosing a treatment' part, she provides 10 questions to ask about choosing a hospital, about radiation, clinical trials, and so on, while part three includes advice for breaking the news to a spouse, to children, to employers and others. Her answers are comfortingly succinct and extremely practical: she includes a section for financial health, and one for the “10 worst questions to ask a breast cancer patient” for those of us who are unsure how to respond in the face of this disease. At the end of every chapter there is a list of resources concerning the previous topic, and Bonner also includes an easily accessible index, a chapter-by-chapter bibliography for further reading and research, and a list of the more than 50 experts she consulted. This book should prove valuable to anyone touched by breast cancer, especially those who are newly diagnosed or in the early stages of treatment.

Click here to find it in the on-line catalogue.

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