Thursday, September 25, 2008

Touching Spirit Bear

by Ben Mikaelsen
HarperTeen, 2005

I like to keep on top of what my kids are reading in school, so when I found out my daughter's grade 8 class was reading this together, I decided to pick up my own copy.

Cole Matthews is a young offender on the verge of being convicted of a violent assault against a classmate. Faced with the choice of going to jail or taking part in traditional native Circle Justice, Cole chooses the latter. He figures he'll play along and outsmart those who are trying to "help" him. He believes they don't really care.

Banished to an island off the coast of Alaska, things don't go quite as Cole planned. A failed escape attempt, followed by his near-fatal mauling by a bear, lead to the beginnings of a changed outlook. Cole's anger does not immediately subside, but over a period of time he learns the lessons he needs to know in order to choose a different future for himself.

As far as the native elements are concerned, a review by Beverly Slapin (click here) concludes that Touching Spirit Bear is "a terrible book". While I didn't always find Cole, or the situations he was in, to be credible, I did find it a mostly enjoyable read.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Death in the Air

by Shane Peacock (Canadian author alert!)
Random House, 2008

When Monsieur Mercure, the famous trapeze artist, falls from a great height to crash at Sherlock's feet, the boy is drawn into his second case. A close look at the bar the man had been gripping proves it was no accident.

As Sherlock investigates, it becomes clear that there are three prime suspects, and at least one person knows something that they're withholding. When Sherlock learns that a large sum of money has also been stolen from the entertainment venue, he knows instinctively that the two incidents are linked. But how?

As the case unfolds, the danger to Sherlock increases. Will he solve the crime before Scotland Yard pieces it together? Will he receive the reward and recognition he deserves? Will he even live to tell the tale...?! If you want the answers to these questions, you'll have to read the book.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What's Possible!

50 true stories of people who dared to dream they could make a difference
by Daryn Kagan
Meredith Books, 2008

I love reading inspirational stories, so to find a book packed with 50 of them was fantastic. Each story tells of how the individual discovered his or her passion and followed through on it. The choices made were not necessarily lucrative, but certainly the people involved found more fulfillment in living out their dreams and in helping others than in any kind of 9-5 or higher-prestige endeavour.

Reading this book excited me and encouraged me to keep pursuing my own dreams and to keep thinking of creative ways to make a difference in the world.

Check out for more uplifting stories.