Thursday, April 5, 2012

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

Nini, by Francois Thisdale, 38 pages
Even before she was born, Nini could hear the voice of her birth mother. She could hear promises and love in that soft voice. When she was born, she felt the gentle hands of her mother holding her, and she could feel the love in those hands.
The next day, the voice and hands were replaced by those of orphanage caregivers, who, although kind, were unfamiliar. Nini, like many of the other babies in the orphanage, cried.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a man and a woman who dreamed of having a family were overjoyed to learn that they could finally adopt a child. They traveled to China, met Nini, and held her. Nini knew immediately that loving arms and hands were holding her once again and that loving words were being spoken.
In a few days, the new family flew to Canada.
As time passed and Nini grew older, she thrived in her new home, knowing that she was loved and cherished by her adoptive parents, while always remembering her birth mother’s love and the land where her “roots had begun to grow”.
The profound message, the poetic language and the beautifully textured illustrations are combined in this exquisite picture book that is sure to touch a chord with both children and adults, especially (but not exclusively) in adoptive families. Created by Quebec illustrator/author Francois Thisdale as a tribute to his own child, the book is dedicated “To Nini, my little flower from Shanxi.”
** Recommended for ages 3 years and up.    
If You Lived Here: Houses of the World, by Giles Laroche, 32 pages.
If you lived in a medieval castle, you would have to cross a drawbridge over a moat to reach your home. Once inside, there would be endless rooms and halls in which to play, and you could climb a tower to see for miles.
If you lived in a cave (which people have done for centuries, and still do today in some parts of the world), you would be known as a “troglodyte” (a cave dweller)! There would be no towers on your house, only the kitchen chimney poking up from the hillside above.
If you lived on the coast in a house on stilts, you could catch fish from your bedroom window. If you lived in a Venetian palace, you would step directly from your front door into a boat on one of the many canals which form the streets of Venice.
If you lived in a trailer on wheels, you and your family could travel to many places – and still be at home! In Mongolia, some families live in yurts, which can also be moved easily from place to place.
There are many types of homes throughout the world, and some are quite unique. In Ndebele, South Africa, the exteriors of some homes, hundreds of years old, feature brightly-coloured patterns and pictures that tell the story of the families living inside.
Increasingly, new homes are designed to save on energy usage. One type of floating house, which rotates mechanically and can face the sun for warmth, or turn away to keep cool, has just been built in the Netherlands.
Children will be interested to see the many houses and dwellings in which people around the world live, what they are made of, and why they have been made in certain ways. The detailed, intricate bas-relief cut-paper illustrations of artist Giles Laroche make this a distinctive book that can be savoured again and again.
** Recommended for ages 4 to 7 years.

These reviews appeared in The Stratford Gazette on April 5, 2012. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian. 

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