Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Hug Me, Please!

Hug Me, Please! by Przemysław Wechterowicz, Illustrated by Emilia Dziubak, ©2017, words & pictures (a division of Quarto Knows)

Receiving a book in the mail is always a special treat in my world. When a children's book appears, it is even more exciting, especially for my kids. And even though Hug Me, Please! is geared for children aged 3-5 years, my ten-year old immediately grabbed the picture book from my hands and instantly sat down to read this delightful book.

The skillfully illustrated book warms the heart
of anyone who appreciates the power of a hug
Hugging is a favourite pastime of mine, so it is no wonder I was enchanted by this sweet book. Little Bear and Daddy Bear wake up one day and decide that today would make a perfect day to spread some joy in the forest. Their goal—to deliver as many hugs as they can.

"It felt strange but nice." 

Everyone they meet gets a hug. Mr. Beaver is a bit uncertain, but that doesn't stop him from enjoying the experience. An Old Elk is surprised, but delighted by his hug. A visiting anaconda receives a hug with pleasure. From old to young, small to large, strangers to the forest, and even characters you might not always think to hug, everyone is included.

This simple story reminds us that we could all use a hug some days. They make us feel good, regardless of who we are or what others may think of us. Thank you for giving me the chance to flip the pages of this colourful book Quarto Group! From feel-good story to beautiful illustrations, I loved Hug Me, Please! And now I feel like I need to pass on a few hugs of my own...


Monday, January 23, 2017

Dance of the Jakaranda

Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani, © 2017, Akashic Books

What better time than the holidays for travel. That is exactly what I got when I picked up Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani over the holidays. I was whisked off to Africa for a look at Kenya during the years of British colonization and its subsequent independence.

Dance of the Jakaranda opens in the Great Rift Valley in 1901. The first train chugs along the newly built railway linking Nakuru and Mombasa with Reverend Turnbull and Master on board. In second and third class, the rest of the people who broke their backs building the rail line are on board—blacks and browns alike. Class might separate them on the train, but their lives are intertwined and a collision course is inevitable.

Kimani looks at the peoples who shaped a nation in his newest novel. The story follows Babu Salim, an Indian technician, Ian McDonald, the colonial administrator sent to oversee the building of the railway, and Richard Turnbull, a preacher intent on leaving his mark on the African people. The novel delves into the tumultuous race relations between the many people who shaped it. Broken dreams leave their mark and change the shape of history for not only themselves, but the many people who come after, including Babu's grandson Rajan.

We all have faults, but some leave a bigger impact than others. Should the British have tried to enforce their will in shaping a nation, regardless of how many lives were lost and cultures corroded? Can we condemn people for self-serving behaviours, despite the good that invariably comes along with it? Is it ever that easy when the backlash can be as heavy-handed as the original infractions? I think not, as Kimani steps into the minds and hearts of all his characters, regardless of the colour of their skin and decisions they have made, be they good or ill.

Thank you to Akashic books for another book that has me thinking long after the last page is turned. May we all learn the lessons that come from the mistakes we make. 


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