Aug 31, 2013

How the Light Gets In

How the Light Gets In (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Louise Penny

Published by: Minotaur Books

Published on: August 27, 2013

It has been a long wait since January when I read all the previous books in this bestselling mystery series. I know longtime fans don't feel sorry for me since they have had year-long or longer waits for almost a decade! But the previous, amazing book, The Beautiful Mystery, ended on such a cliffhanger, and I needed to know how that would be resolved.

Penny is always able to bring Canadian issues, historical and contemporary, into her books in a very organic way, starting from the earliest explorers, to the government's treatment of First Nations people right now. This time she takes us back to the Depression era, and is able to condemn the despicable acts by the government of the day while giving us understanding of why they happened. This is quite a feat for a mystery book.

Penny's books are never simple mysteries. They are chronicles of Canadian history and pop culture, lectures on literature, workplace dramas, and records of small-town life.  She gives us a cussing duck, highbrow "that's what he said"-esque jokes, Leonard Cohen lyrics, and frozen lake shinny. Basically everything you could possibly ask for in a mystery book. Don't forget the tissues.

This book is the best of the bunch, and that is a high commendation indeed. The last book was insightful and gave us a great closed mystery in a closed setting. This time Gamache is out in the world and all the problems he had before; enemies at work, a best friend and colleague with trying personal issues, keeping Three Pines and all of Quebec safe from murderers, are back and threatening to come to a head. Is Gamache feeling as defeated as he did in Bury Your Dead? A few pages in he tells one of his detectives "Trust me." When you read this book, keep that in mind as it goes through twists and turns and heart-stopping terror.

As soon as the book starts we find out what happened with the cliffhanger. But that doesn't mean it is immediately resolved. Penny's books are too realistic for that. But there is resolution to many plot threads from previous books, and it all comes full circle to Still Life, the first in the series. There is no cliffhanger in this book, but I am still on the edge of my seat waiting for the next one. Armand Gamache, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and all of Three Pines have wormed their way into my heart and I am not ready to part with them yet.

This is the seventh book I have reviewed for the Seventh Canadian Book Challenge.

Aug 26, 2013

Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival - August Edition

Welcome to August's Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival. What's that you ask? It's one day a month where bloggers all over the world, speaking all manner of languages with their kids, share links to fantastic articles about issues that affect them (us!).

For more information, or to sign up for as a host or participant, please check out the lovely Piri-Piri Lexicon!

Taco de lenguas tackles the question of how ML@H families deal with caregivers who speak the majority language in Childcare and maintaining the minority language.

FromaDaddy deals with the age-old parenting issue of cursing- but with a twist! in When in Rome...Still be Polite.

Adding an extra language or two to your family always comes with costs, and both the financial and emotional costs are laid out in What is bilingualism costing our family? at Journal of a Bilingual Family.

A really good question is posed and answered by Raising a Trilingual Child; Can babies distinguish foreign languages?

How kids distinguish between speakers of different languages is covered by The Piri-Piri Lexicon in Becoming Multilingual: Who Speaks What.

Babelkid talks about the joy of meeting up with another multilingual family in Blast from the Past.

Discovering the World through My Son's Eyes discovers Puerto Rico through her son's eyes in Our Son's First "Real" Spanish Immersion Trip to Puerto Rico.

Head of the Heard takes a playful approach to multilingualism in Playing with Language.

Not all plans for multilingualism go completely smoothly, and MotherTongues has some wise words about that in Making Peace With Our Language Journey.

Sandra is also mourning lost plans at BXL Sprout in From Trilingual to Bilingual, with an impending big move.

Bilingual Monkeys has A Sneaky Way to Get Bilingual Kids to Use the Minority Language - what kind of mystery will you choose for your family?

I'm sure we all fret about our multilingual journeys at some point, and Open Hearts, Open Minds is no different. Drop by How Will I Keep the Spanish Going? (Or, Worrying about the Future) and give her some great ideas!

I love lists and 5 Simple Things Every Bilingual Kid Needs & Parents Can Give from SpanglishBaby is no exception!
Best4Future is taking on a new role as a teacher at her daughter's Chinese school, and shares her very interesting experiences in Chinese parent vs. Chinese teacher.

Bilingüebabies is expecting! She has so many exciting plans for her new baby chronicles in Letter to My Unborn Child.

I talk about the changes we make when a majority language speaker visits a minority language household in Fighting the Embarassment.

We have a lot of really amazing blog posts this month, I hope you all visit these and leave comments, and build our little community. 

Aug 19, 2013

Nonfiction Monday Roundup for August 19, 2013

Welcome to the Nonfiction Monday Roundup!

Nonfiction Monday is the brainchild of Anastasia Suen. Bloggers across the kidlitosphere celebrate Nonfiction Monday by writing about nonfiction books for kids on Monday.

Join Nonfiction Monday!
We invite you to join us!
o Write about a nonfiction book for kids on a Monday on your blog.
o Copy the Nonfiction Monday button to use in your blog post.
o Link your post to the weekly Nonfiction Monday Round-up! (Please use the permalink to your post, not the address of your blog. Thanks!)

If you are unable to add a comment, please feel free to email me and I will add your post asap.

Nonfiction Monday will be at Stacking Books next week on August 26, 2013, so get your nonfiction reviews ready!

Myra at Gathering Books has an autobiographical picture book this week, called Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola.What an amazing multigenerational story.

Ms. Yingling has a biography of car magnate, Henry Ford, called Driven. Looks perfect for the budding entrepreneur!

Fifty years ago this month was the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream speech, and Mary Ann at Great Kid Books introduces Martin and Mahalia: His Words, Her Song, which is perfect to commemorate the occasion.

Sue at Sally's Bookshelf introduces a book about amazing people who run sanctuaries for exotic animals, Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries.

Roberta at Wrapped in Foil features a really sweet title, Rabbits, sure to make a reader smile as she reads.

Anastasia Suen is getting sporty today with the book Football is Fun! for beginning readers who want to learn the basics of American football.

At Apples With Many Seeds, there's a book for those of us who strive to be more observant, The Skull in the Rock: how ascientist, a boy, and Google Earth opened a new window on human origins.

Jennifer at the Jean Little Library is getting her craft on! She features a number of DK craft books, including The Big Book of Things to Make

My review is for Sadako, the picture book version of the young adult book about the A-Bomb victim who struggled in her journey to fold 1000 cranes.


Sadako (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Eleanor Coerr

Illustrated by: Ed Young

Published by: Puffin

Published on: November 1, 1997

Ages: 5+

The past two weeks here in Japan my kids have asked a lot about peace, atom bombs, and WWII. August 6th marked the 68th anniversary of the atom bombing of Hiroshima. Three days later another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. August 13-15th are the Obon holidays, when we celebrate the lives of the dead including the victims of these bombings and people bring folded paper cranes to the Sadako statue in the Hiroshima Peace Park. I was lucky to find a picture book version of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, which I read in school.

Ed Young illustrated the book Tsunami, which also deals with a horribly tragic event, and so I was hopeful that this picture book would be done with the same grace. It was.

The story of a girl dying of leukemia as the after-effect of a nuclear bomb dropper on her city when she was a toddler is a hard one to adapt for a young audience. Twenty years before, Eleanor Coerr had success with a longer version of this book for older children, and was able to keep the same lyrical quality and respect for life in this version.
Statue of Sadako in Hiroshima

It is Ed Young's illustrations that give this an extra special quality, however. The illustrations use light to represent hope  and dark to highlight the horror of the A-Bomb dome and the tragedy it represents. The dreamlike quality of the background illustrations don't continue to Sadako's face, which is drawn to show what determination she had in face of the ultimate adversity.

This is a wonderful story of hope and friendship and the importance of peace, as well as an excellent introduction to the history of the only atom bombings A(and let's keep it that way) and to post-war Japanese society.

We have been folding cranes for my mother-in-law as the superstition is that one thousand of these will bring one thousand years of happiness. When there is nothing to do to help someone you love, folding paper cranes gives you a goal. 

Here's a paper crane tutorial if you decide to see just how much work Sadako put into her goal.

This post is for Nonfiction Monday, hosted by me this week at Perogies & Gyoza.

Aug 18, 2013

Giveaway - Kenta and the Big Wave (International)

I am very close to 200 Facebook followers. I would love to go over that number! So if you haven't yet followed Perogies & Gyoza on Facebook, please do!

To celebrate summer I'd like to give away a copy of my favourite book so far this year, Kenta and the Big Wave.

Enter using the rafflecopter below.  This giveaway will last one week, closing at midnight Japan time (12 hours ahead of EST) on August 25! This giveaway is open internationally, to any country to which The Book Depository ships !!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Aug 17, 2013

The Long, Long Line

The Long, Long Line (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written and illustrated by: Tomoko Ohmura

Published by: Owlkids Books

Published on: August 13, 2013

Ages: 2+

Summer evenings in Japan mean street vendors (yatais). How do you figure out which one to go to? I use the safe method of checking out which one has the longest line and joining that! I've never been wrong yet, even if it means trying out some things I normally wouldn't, like tuna ramen.

This book features adorable animals lining up- but for what we don't know until the end! They start off small and polite and then the animals gradually get bigger and bigger. My kids loved the porcupine and the poor armadillo being stunk out by the skunk!

Bright colours, backwards numbers (so fun counting down to 1!)  and a surprise ending make this a great book for toddlers and early readers alike. No wonder this has been translated to so many languages!

Aug 16, 2013

Fighting the Embarassment

I speak only English to my kids. Even when we are out and about, unless the conversation directly involves a Japanese speaker around us, I keep it in the language they have the least exposure to. They don't always speak back to me in English, but I'm hard-headed enough to keep it up. Most people we see around a lot know this and don't get excited about it.

But in April my son started elementary school, and therefore has a new afterschool setup. Twice a week I pick him up from the afterschool place, and always greet him in English. The other kids seem absolutely mystified by this, and my son is really embarrassed. He's never been embarrassed before! They ask him if he can speak English, or they ask me if he can speak English. But he never ever speaks English in front of them. I talked to him about it, wondering if he wanted me to keep it in Japanese. He said that he hates the question. They can't speak English to him so what does it matter if he can or not?

My son has golden curly hair and freckles. It's not just the linguistic ability that sets him apart from his peers. He will never be able to pass like my daughter does. This means extra attention, and so far he has been okay with that. But from elementary school he has wanted to be taken seriously as a Japanese kid, so much that every picture he draws for school involves the Japanese flag and also usually WW2 Zero planes. These are things most six year olds in Japan don't even think about, but having visited Pearl Harbour and heard things like "60 years ago your parents' countries were at war!", he is pretty sensitive to this issue.

We ended up deciding that he would speak Japanese when he was with friends outside who aren't Japanese speakers but it was fine for me to speak English. Not the best outcome for me but I completely respect his wishes at this time, and we'll continue to talk about it in future as his feelings change.

But recently a new issues has cropped up. We have had a Japanese visitor in our home. We practice Minority Language at Home (ML@H) which means even my husband tries his best to speak English with the kids when we are all here. But what happens when someone is here who doesn't understand?

I'll admit to being stubborn. When I am talking to our visitor, I speak Japanese of course, but when I ask my son to clear the dishes, I won't ask him in Japanese. Maybe this was rude! My husband immediately reverted to Japanese, wanting to make our guest feel at home. But my son converted his feelings of hospitality into something different. He decided to interpret what I said for our guest, without any prompting on my part.

I was pleased as punch! Interpreting is a very difficult skill, and even though he wasn't speaking English, he was showing comprehension and that he is a better host than I am. Spinky did a pretty good job. I asked if he was too embarrassed to speak English but he wasn't embarrassed, just excited to have a visitor and wanting to help out.

Do you speak your minority language in front of others? Do you think it's rude when someone speaks a language you don't understand in front of you? Is politeness more important than practicing a minority language?

This post is for the Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival, hosted right here at Perogies & Gyoza on August 26, 2013. Please comment with a link if you would like to submit a post!

Aug 12, 2013

The Strongest Man in the World: Louis Cyr

The Strongest Man in the World: Louis Cyr (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written and Illustrated by: Nicolas Debon

Published by: Groundwood Books

Published on: April 25, 2007

Ages: 4+

I'm on a Nicolas Debon kick at the moment. It's fun to read through an author or illustrator's entire bibliography, and even more fun when the artist wears different hats. This is the second graphic novel-type nonfiction picture book both written and illustrated by Debon I have reviewed here. Both are compelling, but this is a lot easier for younger kids to follow along with, probably because the tales are told to a Cyr's young daughter.

Even in a world with thousands of cable channels, watching people perform acts of incredible strength is very popular. One can only imagine how very popular Louis Cyr was in North America at the turn of the 20th century, for he was not just strong, he was also a proud showman.

Cyr's feats of strength, like lifting a horse or a platform full of men are fascinating to young readers. So is the fact that some of his world records are still held today, over a hundred years later. But Debon never whitewashes over the hard times, and tells of Cyr's poverty and struggle to keep his wife and himself healthy and not be scammed by tricksters in show business.

The two highlights of this book are the afterword which includes photographs of the huge Louis Cyr and his family, and the the endpapers, which include other performers of the time like The Bartelli Brothers, who were bicycle equilibrists (I have no idea what they do but wish I could see!) and Bergeron who could bend iron nails with his teeth. I would love to see a story from Debon about any of the other performers as well.

This post is for Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week by Brenda at Prose & Kahn. I will be hosting next week so please get ready to submit a review!

Aug 11, 2013

Most Anticipated Picture Books of 2013 Part II

Almost all of the books from the first edition of my most anticipated picture books of 2013 have been released, so it's time for Part Two! These all look amazing, but I know I am missing some winners so fill me in!


Zombelina (July 9, 2013) by Kristyn Crow and Molly Idle
I call my daughter Domba, which is the short form of her real nickname, Zomberella. So I need to get this book for her!

Here I Am (July 1, 2013) by Patti Kim and Sonia Sánchez
The wonders of a new world to an immigrant are introduced in this book.


The Man With the Violin (August 5, 2013) by Kathy Stinson and Dušan Petričić
Kathy Stinson provided my daughter with her first favourite book with the classic Red is Best, and I can't wait to see her tackled nonfiction.  Check out the great trailer too.


Dream Boats by (September 1, 2013) Dan Bar-El and Kirsti Anne Wakelin
Doesn't this cover look absolutely dreamy? I know Dan Bar-El as a comic writer for kids, so I am interested to see if this is in his usual style or not.

The Northwest Passage (September 10, 2013) by Stan Rogers and Matt James
I love Stan Rogers' folk songs and I think this one will make an amazing nonfiction picture book.

Little Red Writing (September 24, 2013) by Joan Holub and Melissa Sweet
Melissa Sweet is one of those illustrators who has a totally different style from one book to the next, and I want to see what the style is this time!


Spark (October 1, 2013) by Kallie George and Genevieve Côté
Look at that adorable dragon! And don't you want to root for such an adorable underdog?

Nala's Magical Mitsiaq (October 15, 2013) by Jennifer Noah and Qin Leng
I love the sibling tales Qin Leng has illustrated in the past and I am sure this Inuit family tale will be no different.


Awww, look at that baby mammoth!

What picture books are you looking forward to being released this fall?

Aug 3, 2013

Once Upon a Northern Night

Once Upon a Northern Night (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Jean E. Pendziwol

Illustrated by: Isabelle Arsenault

Published by: Groundwood Books

Published on: August 1, 2013

Book provided by publisher for review. All opinions are my own.

It's the hottest time of the year in Japan, 37C today, and we are feeling the heat and humidity. In Japanese culture one of the ways to beat the heat is to induce shivering, either with a scary story or images of cold things.

This story of a mother and child and the wondrous environment in which they live is perfect for instigating both cold shivers and smiles. Poet Pendziwol provides a comforting modern lullaby that is a joy to read.

I think this might be the most Canadian book I have ever read to my kids. The footprints in the snow, the falling flakes, the open sky, the northern lights, and the animals around them were all part of my winter nights on the Canadian prairies. But the way Pendziwol thinks about these nights gives a new perspective.

She writes about a small mouse scurrying in the back yard:

Across the table, 
mounded with snowy white
 like vanilla ice cream, 
he ran,
tunneling beneath the drifts 
to a midnight feast of seeds
that lay scattered
beneath the bird feeder.

The evocative verse pairs extremely well with Arsenault's start mixed media illustrations. The use of colour is limited, but the impact of each colour when used is big. Arsenault illustrated my favourite book from 2012, Virginia Wolf, and this book shows us why she has won so many awards for illustration (including the prestigious Governor General's Award!). Her northern night is breathtaking.

This is the fourth book I have reviewed for the Seventh Canadian Book Challenge.