Thursday, 17 November 2011

Books, Documentaries & Other Recent Discoveries to Share

Since the holiday season is rapidly approaching, I thought I'd share some recent gems I've found.


For tween/teens:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

This is a story of a 13 year-old boy who lives on a reservation, but decides to attend school off the rez in order to improve his prospects. The main character, Junior, is highly engaging and readers will find it easy to relate with him. While the story has a positive and hopeful slant, and many laugh-out-loud moments, it also realistically depicts many of the difficult challenges of rez life as well as the consequences Junior faces regarding his decision. Alexie strikes a winning balance here. This is definitely a winner!

Middle -grade to adult readers will enjoy this historical fiction story:
Hannibal's Elephant Girl by Ariion Kathleen Brindley

A half- drowned young girl awakens to find herself near Hannibal's army in Northern Africa during the Punic wars. As she learns to handle elephants and makes the journey to Iberia and over the Alps, she rediscovers herself along the way.
I was honoured to see this in its early stages in Critique Circle, and have eagerly awaited seeing it in print so I could share it with friends & family. I highly recommend this, but be warned--you will want to reserve a long stretch of time to read it, because you won't want to put it down.
This book is available through Amazon.

For Teen & adult readers:
Exodus, Zenith & Aurora by Julie Bertagna

This futuristic trilogy follows humanity through the long-term effects of climate change. Ocean levels have risen dramatically, and land is scarce. Global communication & industry have become distant memories. As water levels continue to rise, a desperate village must make some difficult decisions.

This series is interestingly written in the present tense, which in itself helps to highlight the immediacy of the issue and draw the reader in, even if it feels a little strange at first. It is a haunting story that will stay with you long after you have finished.

Fun Non-Fiction:
Microcosms by Brandon Broll

Discovering the world through microscopic images at up to 22 million x magnification--truly an eye-opener!


Microcosmos Highlights the magic in the minute--names insect life in meadows & ponds in Europe. Hauntingly beautiful music, incredible cinematography, and only a little narration (& none of that horrible, inane & over-dramatized nonsense found in recent nature documentaries out of North America). You are allowed to sit back and enjoy nature's offerings, and don't be surprised if you find yourself heading outdoors with a magnifying glass in hand to see the nature up close in your own backyard after viewing!

Connections An oldie-goldie documentary series by James Burke from the 1970's, this was revived again twice in the 90's, but the original was the best. Burke takes us on surprising journes through the history of technology, science & innovation to show how seemingly random items are connected--even mistakes in science leading to revelations in other areas.

Cosmos Another oldie, this one by Carl Sagan (also available as a book), documenting our understanding of the universe. Even with its age, it remains relevant to those interested in history, math, science, astronomy, cosmology and wondering about how we all fit in to this universe.

Fun & Inspiring Links:

Be the Spark by Noah Kaplan Powerful poem & magical performance to inspire the best in all of us.

Hallelujah Chorus Flashmob Chorus Niagara flashmob at the Welland Seaway Mall (not just your average flashmob!)