Best-selling children’s author Cornelia Funke’s collection of three original stories also features a princess who makes some unusual choices. In the first story, Princess Violetta wishes not to be a queen, but a brave knight.

This notion, of course, meets with disapproval from the king and queen and scorn from her three older brothers. It’s up to the princess to prove that not only can she become a skillful knight, but that she can make an excellent choice of husband as well.

In the second story, Molly, a pirate girl, is kidnapped by a crew of pirates, led by Captain Firebeard. Molly is able to turn the tables on the kidnappers by secretly summoning her mother, Barbarous Bertha, who rescues her daughter and sets Firebeard’s terrified crew to cleaning, scrubbing and cooking for her own pirate ship.

The third story describes the sibling relationship between an older sister and a preschool-aged little brother who pretends to be a brave “explorer” during the day … but who still wants to snuggle up beside his sister every night - in order to keep the monsters away!

These amusing, inspiring stories, featuring some unusual heroines and heroes, are free of the stereotyping that sometimes occurs in children’s stories.

** Recommended for ages 4 to 7 years.
Find this book in the library catalogue.

Such a Prince, by Dan Bar-el

When Princess Vera is diagnosed with love sickness, her fairy godmother recommends that she eat three perfect peaches … and be married within a week!

Of course, in the opinion of the king and queen, not anyone will do for the position of new son-in-law. He must be “such a prince” - rich, dashing, strong and handsome. In other words, he must be entirely “wonderful and irresistible”!

In the countryside, a poor young man, Marvin, is not rich or handsome, dashing or strong. (In the very candid opinion of Libby Gabborchik, Vera’s fairy godmother, he’s definitely not a “hunk”!) However, he is kind, compassionate, generous and intelligent. Could such as he become a prince? Princess Vera, who notices and appreciates Marvin’s kindness and intelligence, certainly thinks so. In fact, the princess finds him entirely “wonderful and irresistible”!

With Libby’s help, Marvin is able to overcome the many objections of the King and Queen and marry his princess - but not before the king is tricked into kissing his own donkey!

Does this unusual fairy tale end “happily even after” for Marvin and Princess Vera? Well ….very likely, as fairy tales usually do!

Canadian author and storyteller Dan Bar-el’s hilarious tale, told from an unusual fairy godmother’s point of view, is wonderfully paired with John Manders’ colourful, goofy illustrations.

** Recommended for ages 4 to 8 years.
Find this book in the library catalogue.

By E. W. Hornung

Back when Sherlock Holmes was testing cigar ash and sampling liquid cocaine, he had a counter-part in the literary crime world, one A.J. Raffles. It would be Raffles’ cigarette ash that Holmes would be testing – Raffles is a burglar. Not a particularly smooth burglar – his schemes do not always go quite according to plan – but he is fairly successful none-the-less, making away with Australian gold bullion in one escapade, and in the next, brazenly out-burglaring some well-known thieves for a Dowager-Marchioness’s sapphires. With his own version of Dr. Watson at his side (the peculiarly nick-named Bunny who also narrates these tales), the pair insinuate themselves into high society by playing cricket with aplomb, hob-knobbing with lords and ladies, and often doing so right under the unsuspecting nose of Inspector MacKenzie of Scotland Yard. As much a master of disguise as Holmes, Raffles chooses their targets not only for financial gain (they tend to spend their ill-gotten gains rather quickly), but also for the challenge of the theft. Thus, they tangle with the brutish Rosenthall, an illicit diamond buyer, and undertake to re-steal a stolen and priceless work of art for the handsome sum of £4000 - and risk getting nothing if they fail. Written in 1899, in late Victorian style by the brother-in-law of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, reading Raffles is very much like stepping back through time to visit a much beloved but forgotten gem of a character, one who creates the types of crimes Holmes would solve. While the late 1890’s slang may be as mysterious as the liberal use of cricket lingo (some words used have completely different uses today!), these short, early adventure stories of the gentleman thief have great flair, and are first-rate reading for true mystery fans. Any association with the stylish Raffles Hotel in Singapore – also built in the 1890’s – I am sure is just a happy coincidence. Click here to reserve a copy of Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman in our on-line catalogue.

By Delthia Ricks, MA, MS

With all the media frenzy regarding the N1H1 influenza virus, AKA the “swine ‘flu”, it is about time we had an objective look at influenza strains and how they affect our daily lives. Author Delthia Ricks, a medical writer for Newsday, has compiled 100 frequently-asked questions about the flu, neatly organized into nine sections on the basics, flu shots, medications, concerns for children and seniors, epidemic and pandemic planning, historical contexts and of course, how to prevent the spread of flu viruses. Each section has a number of corresponding questions, with informational sidebars (for definitions that can also be found in the handy glossary), and each question is answered with straightforward, clear information. An appendix at the back has a list of authoritative organizations and sources that can provide further information, like Flu Watch, which is coordinated through Canada’s own Centre for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control, or the Families Fighting Flu organization, an American group formed by families whose children did not survive flu, or were made dangerously ill by it. There is information about every strain of flu or virus that we have lately heard about in the news – Norwalk, H1N1, Avian, SARS – as well as many others. This book will not only help arm yourself from influenza, it will help arm you against misinformation about it too. Click here to find it in our on-line catalogue.

The Stratford Public Library has just subscribed to another new database, available exclusively to library card holders (free to all residents of Stratford, West Perth, Perth East and South Perth). It’s The Ancestry Library Edition, the subscription part of the website, and it provides a more in-depth means of getting at genealogical records and family histories. It contains census and military records, passenger lists, even land and probate records from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and a smattering of other European nations. Searchable fields include one for records, one for photos and maps, and another tab for newspaper stories and similar publications. It is also browsable by location, with clickable maps linked to census records and other data for specific regions, and the database contains the downloadable form to start creating your own family tree. The scanned search results can be viewed with a zoom, downloaded, saved, or e-mailed (in case your family tree is a cross-country family project, say). Search results can also lead to message boards (otherwise hidden and hard to find) for communication with other people looking for the same information – maybe distant cousins! Although it can only be used from within the library (licensing issues - sorry!), it is an ideal, free tool for anyone involved in geneological study, or for anyone wanting to know a bit more about their family history than can be gleaned from the original website.

A Year on a Pirate Ship, by Elizabeth Havercroft, 24 pages.
@ SPL: J 793.73 Hav

What do pirates do throughout the twelve months of the year besides chasing and attacking other ships? How do they overpower the crews of other vessels, and do pirate ships always carry the Jolly Roger flag? Where do pirates bury their treasure, and do they like to build sandcastles on the beach after burying their treasure? Most importantly, how often do they take baths, change their socks and brush their teeth – if ever?

As this book proves, the life of a pirate is a busy one - from surviving dangerous storms at sea to attacking other ships - and it certainly isn’t dull or easy!

Young children who are interested in pirates will be intrigued by this book which is full of action-packed illustrations with many things to notice and find. It’s just one of the Time Goes By series for children; other titles include A Year in a Castle, A Year in the World of Dinosaurs and A Year at a Construction Site. Each book in the series offers suggestions for activities and further reading relating to the book’s theme, plus a short glossary.

** Recommended for ages 4 to 8 years.
Find this book in the library catalogue.

The No-Good Do-Good Pirates, by Jim Kraft

The No-Good Do-Good Pirates, by Jim Kraft, 32 pages.
@ SPL: JP Kraft

Oh, those pirates! “Good” is definitely an unknown concept for them as they spend their days doing all sorts of evil deeds, which include plundering children’s birthday parties, stealing toys ….and even making teddy bears walk the plank of their ship, the Flying Pig! Can anyone deter these awful rogues - the scurvy Captain Squint, Ed the Fierce, One-Tooth Willy and Smelly Bob - from their reign of terror and nastiness?

When the no-good pirates are finally caught by the law, they are found guilty of robbing, looting and keeping a parrot without a license. However, they aren’t sent to prison (it’s closed for spring cleaning); instead, they are ordered to do one good deed before sundown.

Now the pirates are in real trouble! How can they accomplish this with no idea of what a “good deed” is?

Lacking a dictionary (and a public library), the pirates proceed to make some wildly unsuccessful guesses of what would constitute a good deed in the eyes of the townspeople. Finally, just before sundown, tired and discouraged, the four pirates happen by the harbour, just in time to see the notorious pirate ship, the Sea Monkey, arrive to plunder the town. Is this the pirates’ opportunity to do a good deed? Well …. maybe …. but in a very unexpected way!

Children will enjoy joining these hapless pirates in a thoroughly hilarious and swashbuckling adventure!

** Recommended for ages 3 to 7 years.
Find this book in the library catalogue.

Rosie and the Nightmares, by Philip Waechter, 24 pages.
@ SPL: JP Waech

Poor Rosie the Rabbit! Every night, she would experience another scary “monster nightmare”. It had been like that for weeks, with each night bringing another horrible dream – and Rosie was tired of it. So one day, she went to visit a dream specialist.

“Hmmmm”, said the specialist, and wrote her a prescription for a wonderful book that gave all sorts of helpful advice about dealing with monsters. Rosie was intrigued. She read the book all day, and when she was finished, she began to use her newfound knowledge to develop a plan of action – a plan which would tame those terrifying night monsters for good!

The next day, she put her plan into action. It worked beautifully. Never again would Rosie the Rabbit be terrified by ghastly dreams about monsters.

Philip Waechter’s picture book exemplifies the value of confronting one’s fears, no matter how huge and frightening they might seem at first. Rose is a feisty heroine who proves that courage is not the absence of fear… instead, courage is acknowledging and overcoming one’s fears.

This book will likely interest the many young children who have a nighttime fear of the dark when the lights are turned out at bedtime.

** Recommended for ages 4 to 7 years.
Find this book in the library catalogue.

Princess Peepers, by Pam Calvert

Princess Peepers, by Pam Calvert, 30 pages.
@ SPL: JP Calve

Princess Peepers loved wearing all of her many pairs of glasses. These included her sparkly glasses (to match her sparkly outfits), her bug glasses (to wear when bug-catching), and her very favourite rose-coloured glasses (to wear most of the time). In short, Princess Peepers was never without a pair of glasses perched on her nose, and she was perfectly happy and at ease wearing them.

Everything changed, however, when Princess Peepers started attending the Royal Academy for Perfect Princesses. Teased beyond endurance by the other princesses about her “extra set of eyeballs”, the Princess decided not to wear glasses anymore – not even her beloved sparkly glasses. From that point on, she walked, ran and fell into trouble everywhere she went - for Princess Peepers truly did need glasses!

One evening, the Princess fell into a different type of “trouble” – the arms of a handsome prince - who also needed glasses! Suddenly Princess Peepers gained a brand-new perspective on the value of clear sight.

Readers can guess the happy ending to this appealing, well-written story, which carries a gentle message about being one’s self.

** Recommended for ages 4 to 7 years.
Find this book in the library catalogue.

Spell Hunter

Spell Hunter, by R.J. Anderson, 329 pages.
@ SPL: YA FIC Ander

Faery Rebels, a new fantasy series for young adults by local author Rebecca Anderson, is certain to quickly gain a devoted following in Canada.(The first title, Spell Hunter, has already become a children’s bestseller in Britain where it was published under the title Knife.)

In the faery world of Oakenwyld, Knife, the main character, is a young rebellious faery who is determined to find the answers to her questions, follow her own instincts and do what she wishes – despite the Faery Queen’s strict rules. A few years later, Knife has become the Queen’s hunter due to her courage and fighting skills. As such, she is able to protect the faeries from their many predators … but she cannot shield them from a new mysterious, deadly disease. Could the humans living nearby have some answers or clues that would help? Knife feels that she must find out, once again defying the orders of the Faery Queen.

Knife’s quest to find the answers which the faeries of Oakenwyld so desperately need place her and Paul, her human friend, in immense danger. Knife’s courage and resolve are tested and strained to the limit in this suspenseful masterpiece, which so successfully juxtaposes magic and adventure, good and evil, and the faery and human worlds.

Young adult and middle-grade readers will be enchanted!
** Recommended for ages 10 to 14 years.

Find this book in the library catalogue.

Would You, by Marthe Jocelyn

Would You, by Marthe Jocelyn, 165 pages.
@ SPL: YA FIC Jocel

One of the best recently-published Canadian books for teens is Marthe Jocelyn’s Would You, which has been included on the shortlist for the prestigious Canadian Library Association’s 2009 Young Adult Book Award.
Would You is an exceptionally realistic account of a tragic event that strikes an ordinary family on a late summer weekend, and the impacts of the tragedy on each member of the Johnson family are examined. Just before starting college, older sister Claire is struck by a car and very seriously injured. Soon her parents and younger sister, Natalie, must make a heart-wrenching decision. Should life-support assistance be removed from Claire and her organs used to help someone else? Should they follow the specialist’s recommendation to do so? What would another family do in such a situation, in which life has changed so horribly in only a few seconds? What would you do?

It’s almost impossible to find any fault at all with this brilliant novel – it’s simply that good! One of its best features is the convincing teen dialogue occurring throughout the book. (Author Marthe Jocelyn once mentioned that she modeled her dialogue on conversations which she overheard between her own daughters.)

Marthe Jocelyn, a local author/illustrator, has written a number of children’s novels and picture books; Would You is her first novel for teens.

** Recommended for ages 12 to 16 years.

from EBSCO Database Publishing

The Stratford Public Library has just subscribed to a new database, available free of charge, exclusively to library card holders – and since library cards are free to all residents of Stratford, West Perth, Perth East and South Perth, just about anyone can access it. It’s the Small Engine Repair Reference Centre. Got a lawn-mower that won’t start on a Sunday morning but lost the service manual? Get the entire troubleshooting guide before your neighbours finish their morning coffee. How about a Ford tractor that won’t pull? There are service documents for over 70 models, free to download or print. In fact, in each category of small engine – from “generators” and “motorcycles” to “boat motors” and “snow mobiles” – there are subcategories for each brand, and each brand is broken down further by specific model. The model might have a single service document (like the 1992 Kawasaki KLF300 4x4 ATV), or an entire index of part instructions (like the John Deere Model 70 diesel tractor). Users will need the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader loaded onto their computers to read and print the manuals (free to download at, but navigation of the website is straightforward, even though it lacks a search bar (check under “Outdoor Power Equipment” for snow-throwers, and not under “Snow Machines”). Manuals for machines newer than 3 or 4 years old may not yet be available, but for anyone with an older tractor, motorcycle or outboard motor, this database will make you very happy campers, and might save some repair bills at the same time. Access the Small Engine Repair Reference Centre only on-line with your library card at

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