Set in the Second World War, Pippo & Clara was my favourite – new – read this month

I have been so busy reading (Christmas book reading has begun. I have already re-read two books and am on my third), I haven’t been writing.

These are some of the books I have read so far this month:

Gender Swapped Fairy Tales

What a cool book by Karrie Fransman and Jonathan Plackett.

The couple has an interesting story about how this book came to be. Plackett’s father used to read his children fairy tales but swapped the genders of the characters in the books, making a more interesting read for him and provided Plackett and his sister fresh characters that “didn’t confirm to old gender stereotypes.”

Today, the pair have a daughter and they, too, wanted her to “grow up in a world where little girls can be powerful and where little boys can express their vulnerability without anger.”

Plackett created an algorithm to turn he to she and daughters to sons, while Fransman, a comic writer and an artist, created to the illustrations.

Gender Swapped Fairy Tales contain 12 stories including Handsome and the Beast, The Sleeping Handsome in the Wood and Gretel and Hansel.

It was interesting to read these new version of fairy tales and watch how the story changes with evil stepfathers and beasts that are women. These aren’t Disney’s versions of the fairy tales so the stories themselves are different than I remember.

I love the idea of this book and how it looks – it’s beautiful, both in illustrations and the entire package, hard cover with a green ribbon to hold you spot. But I realize I am not all that interested in fairy tales, unless it’s  Disney of course.

This book retails for $35.62 and is from PGC Books.

Good Burdens: How to Live Joyfully in the Digital Age

I have come to realize – thanks in part to Christina Crook’s book Good Burdens – I live joyfully in the digital age despite spending way too much time on social media (thank you, Apple, for the weekly screen check-ins. Yikes!). But, for the most part, I am following good people who are supportive to each other (thank you Canadian authors on Twitter) or genuinely want to help each other out. Even the things I post are created or shared with the idea of bringing joy into people’s lives.

In her book, the Toronto author provides information about what a good burden is (think dinner making. It’s something you have to do, but at the end, it’s something that provides a meal and chance to catch up with your family. This is a good burden) and how to ensure the time you spend online is meaningful to you.

I love books that offer lots of space to think and to write and this book allows both. Crooks provides information, quotes from people who have been successful at being mindful in the digital age, and then asks you questions and leaves you space to write.

For me, Good Burdens showed me I am on the correct path, but it was also a good reminder to always think about what brings you joy – or doesn’t – so you can ensure you have enough Good Burdens to keep you happy.

I interviewed Crooks. You can read that interview here.

Good Burdens is from Nimbus Publishing and retails for $21.95.

Pippo & Clara

Set in 1938 in Italy, Clara wakes up to find her mother has disappeared in the night. She stands at the doorway of an unfamiliar city and decides she needs to find her but doesn’t know which way to turn. A little while later, her brother Pippo, whom she promised her mother she would protect, also wakes up alone and decides to find his family.

“One child turns left; the other right. And, just like that, their lives change forever – because in a country at war, sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that have the biggest consequences.”

I really enjoyed Pippo & Clara by Diana Rosie. I read a lot of books set during the Second World War, but most revolve around the Holocaust. In this book, we read about Mussolini and his fascist party and how some of Italy’s citizens stood up against him and the Nazi regime as well.

Clara and Pippo aren’t alone long, eventually being found and housed by two different families. No matter how long they are apart, however, both dream of reuniting with each other and their mother.

The book was fantastic. It’s one of my favourites this year. The story was great. The characters were amazing – the primary characters and the secondary ones who were often connected in interesting ways. The ending was great. The story created a variety of variety of emotions, particularly at the end.

I highly recommend this book.

Pippo and Clara is from PGC Books. It retails for $33.99.

Stealing Home

Stealing Home is based on the true events of how Japanese-Canadians (and Americans) citizens were treated by their countries after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, launching the United States into the Second World War.

In Stealing Home, a graphic novel by J. Torres and David Namisato, Sandy and Ty and their father love to watch the Asahi team play baseball. Made up of Japanese players, the team often outplayed the other teams in the Vancouver, British Columbia, league by bunting and sacrificing. They brought home the championship until the summer of 1941 when the team was knocked out of the semifinals, prompting the children’s father to call it a “bad omen.”

As the war progressed, so too did the limitations on the country’s citizens of Japanese descent – first it was curfew, then people had to turn in their radio and their cars.

One day, their dad, a doctor, didn’t come home. He was forced to go where he was needed the most, while the kids and their mom were forced into hastily built barracks, basically wooden shacks without a bathroom or running water and unable to withstand Canadian winters.

In Stealing Home, we watch a loving family crumble as things go from bad to worse.

The graphic novel is coloured in black, white and brown. The illustrations are good, and the story is powerful. While not a baseball fan, I appreciated the metaphor.

Stealing Home is a great way to teach kids about this time in Canadian history.

The book is from Kids Can Press and retails for $18.99.

You, Me & The Sea

Rachel is in crisis: she has no job or home and zero faith in herself. When she takes a short-term job on a remote Scottish island, she thinks it will offer a chance to recover and heal. Unfortunately, not all the inhabitants on the island are happy to see her. Fraser Sutherland doesn’t want to share his space and Lefty, his assistant, isn’t supposed to be there.

“Homesick and out of her depth, Rachel is sure she’s made another huge mistake. But as spring turns to summer, the wild beauty of the island begins to captivate her soul.”

I love the idea of redemption and finding a way to heal after tragedy, but it was interesting the Rachel wasn’t the only one who was searching for that. The three main characters in this book are extremely interesting and exceptionally flawed. Author Elizabeth Haynes does a great job in creating what feel like real people and gave each of them a chance to become better.

What I disliked about the book was the amount of swearing in it. I just find swearing so distasteful and not at all necessary.  The f-bomb didn’t add anything to the story and in fact I think took something away, or at least for me.

You, Me & The Sea is from PGC Books and retails for 16.95.

A copy of these books was provided by Kids Can Press,
Nimbus Publishing and PGC Books for an honest review. The opinions are my own.