Author Archives: Margriet Ruurs

Refugee, Alan Gratz

 

Wow. The power of stories is exemplified in this novel. It’s fiction BUT based on absolutely true events and people. If books are mirrors of the world, of real life – then this book can only teach us empathy and compassion…

Published by Scholastic and written by a skilled writer of books for children, this one is for older readers. I would not quite give this to my 11 year old grandson yet. Three horrific stories in one:

Three different kids, three different eras, but the same mission for each of them and their families –

Josef, a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany. Having survived Kristalnacht and with the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world…

Isabel lives in Cuba in 1994. Riots, hunger and unrest plague her country, and she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety and freedom in America…

Mahmoud lives in Aleppo, Syria in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward the safety of Europe…

Each faces a harrowing journey in search of a safe place to live. All face unimaginable dangers – from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is still the hope of tomorrow. Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, yet surprising connections tie their stories together in the end – showing that each of us has an obligation to help others in this life, in this one world we share.

A portion of the sale of this book is donated by the author to Save The Children and UNICEF.

The Library of Ever

The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander

As soon as I spotted this novel for young readers in my local bookstore, I knew I had to own it. And it was a wise choice. As I read, I met Lenora and traveled along on her wild adventures through the ages and around the globe, all entered through a library.

Lenora is ‘hired’ as Fourth Assistant Apprentice Librarian and climbs her way up the library ladder, through solving problems and risking her life for knowledge. ‘Knowledge is a Light’ is the library’s slogan, chiseled in stone, and Lenore knows it’s true, especially when she encounters dark forces who want to get rid of books and ban others from gathering knowledge through reading.

I’ve read many other books with a library theme: Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library for instance. But those books are merely fun entertainment. The Library of Ever actually has a whole layer beyond its entertainment value that, almost imperceptibly, demonstrates the importance of books, research and the freedom to read.

I soon loved how this unique book blends fantasy with true questions, asked at the Help Desk and whose answers can be found only be doing research. The book is very cleverly written because we all have asked some of the questions and often have made the mistake of not enough fact checking. Reading, I learned some very interesting facts – from the highest point on earth (not what you think!) to Minoan Literature, from leap years to hieroglyphs. Readers’ minds can truly grow on this book.

Underlying all of Lenora’s adventures is the threat of Dark Forces. As the Chief Librarian states at one point: ‘the value of a Library cannot be counted in money.’ Same with the book – it was well worth the 10.- purchase price and both my grandson and I gained much more from the reading experience than just fun hours spent reading together. We kept sharing what we learned by saying “Did you know this? And listen to this!”…

Fantasy is not normally a genre I enjoy but now I can’t wait to read the next title: Rebel in the Library of Ever.

@ZAlexanderBooks

ISBN 978-1-250-23370-7

Don’t Stand So Close To Me

Eric Walters is one of the hardest working authors I know.

He has written over a hundred books, gives presentations in schools day after day. He tirelessly helps and supports other writers. He spearheaded the #IReadCanadian campaign and has taken many other initiatives to help put Canadian books in the hands of children.

Now he has written a book in record time: 7 weeks. Don’t Stand So Close To Me is the story of the current pandemic. It shows Quinn, Isaac and friends and how they are all effected by the sudden school closure.  Their family lives are changed as their parents’ work demands and hours change (one is a police officer, another is a medical doctor, etc). Suddenly they only see each other and their teacher via Zoom meetings. But the story also shows how kids can take initiatives and make the best of a difficult situation, how they can even help others.

The story brings the Covid-19 situation to an understandable level for kids. It’s nice that this is a fictional novel, not an information books with facts about Covid-19 but a story in which many kids can recognize themselves. This book is aimed at 9 – 12 year olds. It’s an easy read at about 120 pages and available as e-book only until the print version comes out in September. I can see this story making a great class read to discuss (on Zoom?) and to help children see that they are not the only ones whose lives are effected.

ISBN:  9781459827899
Price: $7.99

https://www.orcabook.com/Search.aspx?k=don%27t+stand+so+close+to+me

 

Books for Booklovers

Every once in a while you pick up a book that – like an arrow – goes straight to your heart. Here are two books that recently did that for me. The first one is a brand-new book. A monument in itself, a tribute to booklovers and wordlovers in the broadest sense of the word: Alphamaniacs, Builders of 26 Wonders of the Word, written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

 

 

The text is a poetic description of   26 people who made a difference in the world of language – some are writers, others invented a new style or printed books in a new, unique way.   Rather than a summation of biographiesthe author chose to use the voice of acircus ringmaster to introduce each ‘Wonder of the Word’. There is Jean-Dominique Bauby who became paralyzed except for one eye lid and ended up dictating an entire novel by blinking the letters. An astonishing feat. Jumping back and forth through the ages, the book celebrates Europeanwriters and native Americans, among others. One is Jessie Little Doe Bairdwho singlehanded saved her Wampanoag language, actually bringing it back from extinction. There’s the inventor of Klingon as well as the creator of Esperanto, a universal language created by Ludwik Zamenhof in Poland in hopes of promoting peace and understanding between people.

Each story is accompanied by a piece of art by the incredible master of collage, Caldecott Honor illustrator Melissa Sweet, making this book is a feast for the eye and ear of any booklover.

Candlewick Studio, ISBN 978-0763690663

Another book I recently fell in love with, but which was published a few years ago, is the picturebook A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston. One of those fabulous books for anyone who knows the value of stories, this one starts with a pen and a blank page. Then the main character takes us along on a celebration of books, through illustrations composed of words from those very books. While sailing the ocean, the words forming the waves are from books like Ten Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, The Swiss Family Robinson and more. Kids climb mountains of words from Peter Pan to reach the sky. They discover treasure and wander through forests made of book spines. I love this book and its powerful images, and I suspect that booklovers of all ages will love it, too.

Candlewick Press, ISBN 978-0-7636-9077-9

Happy Easter Books to share at home!

Emma was growing up… from a dandelion chick to a feathery, white hen.

But what to do with all those beautiful eggs she was now laying? She decided to make her eggs the way people seemed to want them: from scrambled to painted! But nothing pleased the farmer until Emma gave up and sat on her egg

Have fun this Easter sharing all four Emma books. You can checked them out from your local library, purchase them from your local bookstore or order here.

And here is a fun colouring sheet designed by illustrator Barbara Spurll!

Happy Easter!

 

 

 

 

Make paper bag Emma’s!

Make Emma’s Egg baskets!

Ghost of the Mill House

 

Ghost of the Mill House
Written by Margriet Ruurs
Illustrated by Claudia Davila

ISBN: 9781459820357
Price: $7.95, Orca Book Publishers

Just when Josh starts to think his break from school is going to be all chores and no cheer, his best friend, Mark, invites him to spend their break helping restore a historic home and mill in Oregon. With the help of their friends Angela and Mary Jane, and under the watchful eye of Aunt Sue and Uncle Doug, the kids spend weeks fixing up the grounds, basking in the freedom of country life and learning about the surrounding area. Not to mention eating bugs, domesticating feral cats and starring in a movie! But it’s not all fun and filming. The mill is in financial trouble, and the kids have to figure out a way to help Aunt Sue and Uncle Doug keep it running, in spite of it being haunted.

Ghost of the Mill House follows Bus to the Badlands, where we first met Josh and his classmates.

Praise for The Ghost of Mill House from Resource Links (p29):

“A valuable addition to the Orca Echoes Series. Beginning chapter book readers will appreciate the engaging plot written with energetic text, as well as the very well done, fun, cartoon-like illustrations representing a diverse group of friends.”

Fiction Ages 6-8
Pages: 104
Themes: friendship, summer adventure, haunted house, heritage site, Oregon
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: 24/Sep/2019

Books + Travel = The Best!

A while ago I started a post about to amazing books I find as I travel. You can read about those earlier titles here: https://www.margrietruurs.com/books-as-windows-to-the-world/

I keep finding fabulous books as I travel, books that help me to learn more about the world in both fiction and nonfiction. Here are some more of my all time favourites that I am grateful to have come across:

A beautiful book about Mongolia: Hearing Birds Fly by Louise Waugh. This nonfiction story is an account of living with nomads and describes much of their lives in detail. Walking the Gobi by Helen Thayer describes the incredible feat of an American couple that walks across the country. Their endurance is amazing and the book shares lots of details about Mongolia and its people. I recognized places I visited.

In Saudi Arabia I gained a better understanding of the difficulties faces by women, by reading In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom by