by Edward "Teddy" Payne

Hot off the local presses is this slim little volume, the newest by Teddy Payne, that is dedicated to some of Stratford's finest eating establishments. Each restaurant was chosen by Teddy, reviewed by Teddy, and each is accompanied by one of Teddy's original whimsical watercolours of the restaurants themselves. Arranged in alphabetical order from Bentley's to York Street Kitchen, each of the fourteen eateries contributed at least one of their chief recipes, which appear at the end of the book. Thus readers can find out the secret ingredient of Bijou's tasty onion soup, the perfect spice-mix for Raja's chicken korma, how to assemble Down The Street's panko crusted sablefish dish, and what makes the The Parlour's fire-roasted tomato and wild mushroom soup an award-winner. Teddy also added a favourite recipe of his own, contributed the introduction in his warm, anecdotal style, and thoughtfully provides the contact information for all fourteen reviewed restaurants, plus that for other 'honourable mention' restaurants and cafe's (in case you can't get a reservation at those he reviewed). What makes this little book extra special is that Teddy is donating a large portion of the proceeds of the sale of his book to the Stratford Symphony Orchestra in honour of their upcoming fifth season, and it is for sale all over town, as well as on the Symphony's website. It makes a nice souvenir of our fair city, but it is of course available to be borrowed at the Library as well. Bon appetite! Find it here in our on-line catalogue.

The Castle on Deadman’s Island: A Mystery

by Curtis Parkinson

A old castle with a deep basement, a secret tunnel, a child’s skeleton, a woman’s mysterious disappearance, a ghost, an eccentric millionaire, a bizarre will and a curse born in local lore, are only some of the ingredients in a suspense-filled mystery novel featuring the same three friends (Neil, Graham and Crescent) who appeared in Curtis Parkinson’s previous children’s novel, Death in Kingsport.

Soon after the owner of the castle on Deadman’s Island in the St. Lawrence River dies, Graham’s aunt abruptly disappears. Graham is convinced that she hasn’t simply left on a sudden trip, as some think. His conviction grows as various clues begin to turn up, such as an abandoned pair of sensible walking shoes, similar to those that his Aunt Etta would often wear. The revelation that Graham’s aunt has been bequeathed a one-third ownership of the castle complicates the situation. Then Graham is attacked, tied up and gagged by two intruders. What is going on … and can he and his friends discover the truth before it’s too late?

This is another adventure / mystery story with plenty of suspense and action, almost certain to intrigue readers looking for some great fiction to read over the summer.

** Recommended for ages 10 to 14 years.
Find this book in the library catalogue.

Footprints in Time

by Petru Popescu

Thirteen-year-old Jack Conran can’t believe his fantastic luck when he’s included on a research trip to the “Witch’s Pot” – an unexplored crater in the isolated savanna area of Tanzania, East Africa. However, his great luck quickly changes to horrible when the small plane crashes, the other occupants are tragically killed, and Jack, wounded, is left on his own in a desperate struggle for his very survival. With hungry lions roaming everywhere in the crater area, far from civilization, Jack knows that his struggle won’t be easy, but what he doesn’t expect is to meet a mysterious creature who saves his life.

Who, or what, is this creature, and why is it helping him? Could the creature possibly be the mysterious link from the past for which Jack’s father had been searching? Can Jack and the creature come to understand each other and even become friends?

Readers who like adventure stories with plenty of action, danger and suspense won’t be able to put down this exciting, fast-paced tale until the very last page.

** Recommended for ages 9 to 13 years.
Find this book in the library catalogue.

In an English manor's attic, behind an old brick wall, an ancient sea-chest is found. Inside, carefully preserved, is a literary treasure - the memoirs of one of the most successful and enigmatic writers in English history, Jane Austen. Have you ever wondered how a woman who never married and by all accounts was never in love was able to create some of the most romantic relationships in literature? What if she did have a secret affair with a man of wealth and distinction, far above her own station? Author Syrie James takes much of what is really known about Jane Austen and weaves these facts into a "what might have been" life of Jane Austen, one where she meets Sir Walter Scott, visits the Derbyshire that became an important setting for Pride and Prejudice, and falls deeply in love with a man who may have been the inspiration for all her male heroes, one Frederick Ashford. James brings to life Austen's entire family - her hypochondriac mother, affectionate father, all her brothers and of course her sister Cassandra to whom she was devoted - as well as a host of other more-or-less imaginary characters that readers of Jane Austen will find vaguely familiar. She also includes a variety of things that make this fictionalized autobiography seem convincingly real - a map of Jane's England, a copy of the Austen family tree, and introduction by "Dr. Mary I. Jesse, president of the Jane Austen Literary Foundation", who is actually one of those imaginary characters. This edition comes complete with a reading guide for book clubs, an insightful author interview and a chronology of events in Jane Austen's real life, and is an excellent substitute for anyone who wishes Ms. Austen had given us more of her own life's story or written more novels before her untimely death. Reserve your copy here in our on-line catalogue.

The Odd Egg

by Emily Gravett

That “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is never more evident than in Emily Gravett’s latest story, the Odd Egg.
All the birds had laid an egg except Duck.
One day, Duck came across an enormous egg with green spots near the river. She thought it was beautiful, but it was so unusual in appearance that the other birds laughed and laughed.
After a few days, all the eggs except Duck’s had hatched. Everyone was intrigued. When would it hatch? Would it hatch at all? As time went on, only Duck, knitting patiently near the egg, believed that something would eventually happen.
Finally, one day, there was a “creak”, a “crack” and a loud “snap!” from the egg… and a baby crocodile appeared! Duck was so happy! Right away, she loved her baby despite its unducklike appearance and habits…. and despite the ridicule of the other birds.
The author has used a minimum of words to convey the theme of unconditional love in this story. In fact, the economy of text is one of the beauties of this tale, a technique which serves to highlight the excellent illustrations in this wise and witty picture book for preschoolers and their parents.
** Recommended for ages 3 to 6 years.

The Cow that Laid an Egg

by Andy Cutbill

Unable to ride a bicycle or perform handstands like the other cows on the farm, Marjorie didn’t feel very special at all. Instead, she felt extraordinarily ordinary. The chickens, noticing that Marjorie was down in the dumps, “hatched” a plot. The next morning, there was an almighty commotion in the barnyard …. “I’VE LAID AN EGG!” bellowed Marjorie the Cow.

The other cows were stunned. None of them had ever laid an egg before! The farmer called the local newspaper; people came from far and wide to see the egg laid by a cow, and Marjorie sat on it to keep it warm.

The other cows were suspicious. Had Marjorie really laid that egg, or were the chickens somehow involved?

Day after day, Marjorie happily sat on her egg until finally, it cracked open and a small feathery bundle appeared. Feathery? Yes, it had feathers and looked just like a chicken. The suspicions of the other cows seemed justified … but only until Marjorie’s baby opened its mouth!

This hilarious story is accompanied by equally hilarious illustrations, plus a CD on which the story is read aloud by Rubert Degas.

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

Take a dash of Under the Tuscan Sun, throw in a smidgen of Jane Johnson’s Crossed Bones, add a tiny drop of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, and then just the tiniest hint of The Da Vinci Code, and you get a novel like The Glassblower of Murano. During the Renaissance Corradino Manin became a glass artisan by complete accident. Hiding on the island of Murano after his family was betrayed by one of their own, the young Corradino survived by learning the craft of the Murano glassblowers. So well did he learn the craft that he becomes the best, most renowned, most sought-after maestro of glass in the known world. It is precisely because of his fame that his fate is sealed when he finds he has a daughter, Leonora, the product of an affair with a noblewoman. Forever separated from her by class but hoping to build a life for them together, he commits an act of treason – but before doing so gives her a perfectly shaped glass heart. Now in the present day, Nora leaves behind her life in England to take up residence in Venice, Italy, the home of her ancestors and the father she never knew. All she takes with her is the tiny glass heart that her father passed down to her, a heart forged and shaped by her Renaissance ancestor Corradino Manin. Nora changes her name back to the Italian Leonora, and tries to find peace in the ancient, decaying city, forever known for its beauty and treachery. When she is hired by a glass foundry on the very street named for Corradino, the past and present begins to converge, taking Leonora in directions she never imagined. Two stories forming one, both sad and beautifully hopeful, and both stirring up vibrant images of a city always enchanting and ensnaring – that’s the recipe for a fine novel. Reserve The Glassblower of Murano here in our on-line catalogue.

The Day Leo Said I HATE YOU

by Robie H. Harris

One day, Leo’s mother said “No!” to everything that Leo did. It was “No!” to rolling squishy tomatoes across the floor; “No!” to dropping string beans into the fish bowl, “No!” to dancing on the table, and “No!” to squirting blue toothpaste into the toilet. In a temper, Leo went to his room and drew an ugly picture of his mother on the wall. “No!” yelled his mother when she saw the nearly-finished picture. “No, no, no!” Then it happened. Leo suddenly found himself yelling back at his mother …. “I HATE YOU!”

The words were out. Leo was horrified. Would his mother still love him?

Robie Harris’ newest picture book explores the theme of unconditional parental love, as well as the feelings of frustration and anger sometimes felt by young children as they learn to adjust, cope and communicate in a world where it often seems as if there are far too many rules.

** Recommended for ages 3 to 5 years.
Find this book in the library's catalogue.

Big Words for Little People

by Jamie Lee Curtis

Sometimes it’s very difficult for young children to communicate in a big person’s world. Adult words such as “considerate”, “persevere”, “patience”, “appropriate” and “consequences” can be not only difficult to pronounce but also to understand. Yet an understanding of such words – and their meanings - is essential in our world. As the author notes, “Words – big or little – are the bridges that connect us all.”

With clear, humorous explanations in rhyme and lots of colourful illustrations, Jamie Lee Curtis’ newest picture book explores some of these words and concepts, and provides simple explanations which even preschoolers can understand.
The team of Jamie Lee Curtis (author) and Laura Cornell (illustrator) have created a number of picture books which, with sensitivity and humour, explore the feelings and emotions of young children – for example, “It’s Hard to be Five”, “Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods that Make My Day” and “Tell Me Again about the Night I Was Born”.

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

My Mom is Trying to Ruin my Life

by Kate Feiffer

A little girl is firmly convinced that her mother is actually trying to ruin her life! Why otherwise would her mother always kiss her in front of her friends (embarrassing), come to school with things that her daughter might need during the day (also embarrassing), talk and laugh loudly (especially embarrassing), and worry so much about her safety (meaning that some fun, but dangerous, activities are forbidden)?

Perhaps her father is also trying to ruin her life, in different ways. He reminds her constantly about her homework, and always insists on a prompt bedtime and a clean bedroom.

Life would be so much simpler without parents and their rules ... or would it? Who would cook for her, tuck her into bed, read her a bedtime story, kiss her goodnight and comfort her if she had a bad dream?

After some thought, the little girl realizes that she is actually very lucky to have two such loving, caring parents!

** Recommended for ages 3 to 6 years.
Find this book in the library's catalogue.

The Mother-Daughter Book Club

by Heather Vogel Frederick

Emma, Jess, Cassidy and Megan simply can’t believe their ears! Their mothers have enrolled them in what? A mother-daughter book club? A book club which is to meet once a month, taking turns at members’ homes? What on earth could their mothers have been thinking – or not thinking?

The four middle school girls have many other things on their minds than reading and discussing Little Women. Megan is entirely preoccupied with her own set of fashionable friends; hockey is Cassidy’s life; Jess misses her absent mother too much to care about anything else, and Emma has already read just about every book in print - including Little Women. Besides, although Jess and Emma are good friends, they are despised by Megan, a snob, and Cassidy appears to have no use for anyone not involved with hockey.

However, as this novel skilfully demonstrates, the four unlikely friends have much more in common than they suppose at first. They also have quite a bit in common with the four sisters in Little Women - and with their own mothers. Connections are drawn between the girls and their families and into the past, as on various occasions they begin to ask themselves, “What would Jo March do now?”

Heather Frederick’s novel scores highly in appeal, humour and realistic dialogue, and it’s quite likely that middle school readers will be looking for more of her books. (The Library has two.)

** Recommended for ages 9 to 12 years.
Find this book in the library catalogue.

Cat Chat

by Meredith Phillips

Why do cats purr? Why are they often more responsive to women’s voices than men’s? How do they almost always manage to land on their feet, and do they really like to drink milk?

Meredith Phillips’ attractive book, one of the Pet’s Point of View books for children, will supply the answers to these questions and provide many more intriguing facts about cats as well. Did you know that cats groom themselves for more than one quarter of the time that they are awake, and that they mark their territory by rubbing their faces on things or people? Did you know that cats have trouble digesting sugar, that a cat can leap about six times the length of its body, and that the record for the largest litter is nineteen kittens?

Cat Chat provides an opportunity for children to learn about their feline friend from its point of view, using fun facts, attractive photos, instructions on basic cat care, a glossary and a timeline of significant events in the history of cats.

** Recommended for ages 5 to 10 years.
Find this item in the library's catalogue.


by Marty Crisp

The Titanic was enormous. With its own post office, swimming pool, gymnasium, squash courts and library, it truly was a ten-storey high “floating city”.

Historians believe that huge ocean liner had a cat, necessary for seagoing vessels at the time to control mice and rat populations. If so, what happened to the cat when the Titanic sank on that fateful April night in 1912?

Titanicat tells the story of a young cabinboy, Jim, who “adopted” the Titanic’s cat and her three kittens when he worked on the ship during the final preparations for its maiden voyage. However, when the much-anticipated day of departure came, Jim noticed that the cat was quickly removing her kittens from the ship. When she had trouble locating the third kitten, Jim found it, took it to her on the dock … and so missed the departure of the ship, the voyage – and the tragic fate of the “unsinkable” Titanic.

Is Titanicat entirely fictional? It could have happened, for it’s often said that animals can sense an impending disaster ….

The remarkable watercolour illustrations which accompany this fascinating and suspenseful story for children are truly memorable and beautiful.

** Recommended for ages 6 to 10 years.
Find this item in our catalogue.

Patterns in the Sand

For those who love a cozy mystery – no gore, no bad language, no violence – it doesn’t get much better than Sally Goldenbaum’s Seaside Knitters series. In the follow-up to her debut, Death by Cashmere, the Seaside Knitters Club members, Nell, Izzy, Cass, Birdie, and others are startled to find a body in the window of the snug Knitting Studio – a sleeping one. The stranger in town (the aptly named Willow) is known for her fibre art, and she fits well into the Sea Harbor community of like-minded artisans, but she seems reluctant to fully join the knot of friendly knitters. The women embrace her anyway, knowing that in time her reserve will thaw and she will start to feel at home. What they don’t count on is that this young woman is somehow tied to one of their friends, a friend who is poisoned during the renowned Art at Night Festival in nearby Canary Cove, and they must help the young woman prove her innocence before another tragedy occurs. With her evocative descriptions of New England ocean-views, salty-air breezes and the laid-back, hospitable folks of Sea Harbor, this series by Sally Goldenbaum may be the most tranquil set of murder mysteries you will ever read, and they are a perfect accompaniment for languid summer evenings – especially if you can’t get to a bit of seaside of your very own. Find a copy of Patterns in the Sand here in our on-line catalogue.

By Wayne Caldwell et al, University of Guelph

For those wanting to buy and eat locally, The Urbanite’s Guide to the Countryside gives an overview of the vast variety of crops and products available in southern Ontario. Beginning with a history of agriculture in Ontario and touching on some of the issues farms face today, the authors also include sections on typical sights encountered in rural southern Ontario – the traditional and modern farm-scapes, Old Order Mennonites, the rural towns and its often lush forests and wetlands (with cautions for the Urbanite driver about our gravel roads). Following this comes each mini-chapter, arranged alphabetically by resource type, from apples to wind farms. Each entry contains statistics on the listed industry, sidebars of trivia, and little eye-catching photographs. This slim volume does have some shortcomings that will hopefully be corrected in the next edition – there is no index, photos are often not identified (including one of Wellington St. here in Stratford), and there are no addresses or websites provided for the various types of farms, something that could have been added in an appendix or two (a silly oversight from the publisher – the University of Guelph!). Still, it will be useful for children doing projects and adults looking for local produce - even things like ginseng, fish-farms and alpaca wool, besides the traditional maple syrup, dairy and pig farms, and a quick call to the reference desk at the Library will tell you exactly where to look for those llamas. Click here to find The Urbanite's Guide to the Countryside in our on-line catalogue.

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