Mrs Peachtree

Is there a job where I can get paid to read?

The Canadian Book Challenge review #2! November 24, 2008

Holy Cow! It’s nearly December and up to this point I’ve only posted one review for this year’s Canadian Book Challenge. I definitely need to pull up my socks! Since I’ve had no classes (because my professors are on strike) I’ve had lots of time to read so I will hopefully be posting some more reviews.

When I was a kid I read O.R. Melling’s The Hunter’s Moon and I absolutely loved it. I wanted to be Gwen, one of the main characters, and I was absolutely fascinated by the Irish folklore that Melling wove into her story. I didn’t find out about the rest of Melling’s books until I was an adult and I have to admit that I’m not quite as thrilled with the rest of them. I just finished reading The Singing Stone, which I began reading in August. I just wasn’t drawn into the story and so I hardly ever picked it up. The book is a slim volume and it tells the story of Kay, an orphan, who has been sent some mysterious books full of Celtic legends and who is transported to another time in order to accompany a girl named Aherne on a quest to locate four treasures and answer the question of who Kay and Aherne actually are. Melling has done what she always does, which is take Irish folklore and history and weave them into a story that involves modern day girls who are experiencing some sort of turmoil in their lives. Of course, there is also always a romance element and the girl always gets the guy in the end. I think the reason that I didn’t enjoy this one is that the book was too short to contain the story. Melling is tackling a huge part of Irish history – the debate about whether the Tuatha De Danaan actually existed or whether they are simply legend. Unfortunately, she crams this story into 205 pages, which is not enough to really get to know the characters or develop the plot. I didn’t feel like I really knew Kay and Aherne, I found their relationship unbelievable, and I often felt like the description and plot were rushed and confusing. I will admit, though, that I started to get into the story and enjoy it more in the last ten chapters, and I suspect that holding this work up to The Hunter’s Moon was unfair of me. I think that if I had read this book at the same time as I had read my first Melling book I would have enjoyed it much more than I did this time around.

Oh boy. I don’t think I’ve ever written an unfavourable review before. I do hope that O.R. Melling never reads this post because I still like her other writing and I will still be seeking out some of her other works which I haven’t read yet because I really am fascinated by the Celtic lore that she brings to her books and I also really enjoy the way she writes about Canadian locales that are familiar to me as well as these supernatural faery worlds that exist in the Irish countryside.

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And the winner is… November 9, 2008

I attended my very first Canadian Children’s Literature Awards on Thursday night where Christopher Paul Curtis took home both the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for his novel Elijah of Buxton. The Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award went to author Frieda Wishinsky and illustrator Marie-Louise Gay for their work on Please, Louise!, and the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction went to Hugh Brewster for At Vimy Ridge: Canada’s Greatest World War I Victory. The event was put on by TD Bank at the Carlu in Toronto and it was all very swanky. The excitement in the air was palpable and it just made me itch to finish with school and get to work in a school or a library somewhere sharing fabulous literature with children!
Unfortunately, the TAs, contract faculty and graduate students at York University are on strike right now so I am rather worried about what will happen to my year. I should be graduating in the spring and I will be so disappointed and angry if I end up losing my year over this strike. On the plus side of the strike, it will give me time to do more reading! I haven’t been keeping up with the Canadian Book Challenge at all and I’d like to take the time to post some reviews in the coming weeks. Of course, my reading list for the challenge may be completely changed now that I’m dying to read all of the nominees and winners of the four awards presented on Thursday night. I’ll be starting with Elijah of Buxton and Too Many Books since they were both sent home with me in a lovely goody bag at the end of the evening.