Thursday, April 25, 2013

10 Plants that Shook the World by Gillian Richardson

Illustrated by Kim Rosen
Published by Annick Press

Gillian Richardson has done a great deal of research and interviews in writing this amazing book. She clarifies what you might know and tells  you what you don't know about the history of these plants. Though a grandmother, I learned more than I expected from this book that is geared mostly to school children, something I always look for in a book--something new. The illustrations are fun and will add to the pleasure for young readers.

I would not have guessed pepper was once worth as much as gold, nor that corn in its original form could have been around 80,000 years ago. Not only that but how important corn has been, not just for eating but in so many products used in the past century.

There is a lot of human history, not always happy, packed into this book along with the history of these ten plants. This is education at its best; fun, exciting and a pleasure to read. There is a Map of Plant Origins, Bibliography and other suggested reading. I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in learning about the way plants have changed the world, be it in food, industry or medicine. Who knows? Maybe a young reader will become an ethnobotanist!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Murder Past Due - a Cat in the Stacks Mystery by Miranda James

Published by Berkley Prime Crime

Great interaction between all players, lots of suspense!
This is the first book in Miranda James' Cat in the Stacks series, reprinted. Let me say first that I loved the interaction between Diesel, a rescued Maine Coon cat, and the other characters in the story. So much so, that I want a Maine Coon cat! The book is well-written and characters fully formed, not always found in the first book of a series. There appears to be a good balance among the characters.

The storyline was full of suspense and twists right to the end. When best-selling author Godfrey Priest is killed, it soon becomes clear that almost everyone had a reason to kill him. A mean-spirited and hateful snob of a character not above stealing another's works, it is a wonder he lived so long. Sadly, he leaves behind the one person who might have cared about him, his newly discovered son Justin, who just happens to be boarding at the home of our main protagonist, Godfrey's old high school acquaintance, Charlie Harris, librarian and book archivist and owner of said cat. Without Charlie's help with Diesel's assistance, the crime might never have been solved.

This series has it all, compassion, spite, good, bad, and characters that bounce off each other in many ways. A great start to a new cozy series.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Timmy the Fish - a Positive Anti-Bullying Message by Sean A. Kollman

Illustrated by Alicia C. Mattern
Dedicated to Sean A. Kollman (deceased)

In these troubled days, it's a joy to see a picture book aimed at young children, particularly in the early grades, with an anti-bullying theme they can understand. Timmy the Fish, with its adorable illustrations, is just that book. Children can probably relate to this book easier than to one featuring other children. When Timmy is bullied by bigger fish he has feelings of fear and sadness, but this all changes when he meets the biggest and oldest fish and learns that he had been bullied, too. Their friendship solidifies as Brutus the Largemouth Bass tells how he was able to free himself of the bullies. With Brutus' kindness, Timmy is happy that he can rejoin his young friends in the school without fear. At the back of the book there are some helpful links about dealing with bullying. An unusual take on a serious problem, this illustrated short story stands on its own as entertainment and education.