I loved this picture book about a little girl who is given a magic paintbrush to help the poor. Beautiful illustrations and a great story told in vers...moreI loved this picture book about a little girl who is given a magic paintbrush to help the poor. Beautiful illustrations and a great story told in verse.(less)
Winchester is engaging here as usual, but this is a somewhat uneven book. Unforgettable anecdotes and descriptions that effortlessly flow into one ano...moreWinchester is engaging here as usual, but this is a somewhat uneven book. Unforgettable anecdotes and descriptions that effortlessly flow into one another mingle with the ones that are less interesting and choppier. For whatever reason the whole structure doesn't gel that well, and it may be due to a somewhat artificial imposition of the form of the five Japanese elements: wood, earth, metal, water, and fire on the themes of American unification. The division is meant as a tribute to Winchester’s Japanese mother in law, and for the longest time I was pondering how it fit with the overall scheme for the book. The mystery is solved by the end of the book where Winchester talks about all the immigrants and communities coming together to form a nation, indivisible, as he says. Very clever in the end. He also makes it very clear that what brought that nation of migrants and loose individuals together was a strong centralized government, so it seems to be a book with a mission for today’s American political climate. All that notwithstanding, there were parts better befitting the themes, and parts that were not so successful, or more lacking, in my opinion. We have a cauldron of individuals ‘melting in the pot’ including all the big adventurers, pioneers and inventors: from Lewis and Clark to Morse, Tesla and Edison, and many not so well known yet definitely memorable characters like Clarence King, Thomas Harris MacDonald and Theodore Judah, and the anecdotes about them are always engaging. Curiously, the chapter I found least coherent is the chapter on Winchester’s specialty- geology. Maybe it is true that it’s most difficult to write on what you know best. My favourite chapter, on the other hand, was when the American story was ‘fanned by fire’. Winchester discusses the development of the railway and highway systems and eventually finishes with the planes there. It’s not only interesting overall with at least four really memorable moments with the Donner Pass crossing, Judge farming family reflections, encounter with a Yukon Mountie and the grounding of the planes following 9/11, but it’s also quite beautifully written and in a form that I like reading Winchester most, a travelogue. It made me nostalgic for a good American road trip. Next summer. Can’t wait.(less)
He is preaching to the choir here, but no matter, he is doing it very well. The book is laid out in a very logical fashion and has all the characteris...moreHe is preaching to the choir here, but no matter, he is doing it very well. The book is laid out in a very logical fashion and has all the characteristics of a well designed university course. It is written for somebody who may be encountering his arguments for the first time, yet it's not boring for the one who has read a lot about the topic. Ultimately, it may be the best and most clearly written book about evolution I have ever read. Well done. 5+/5 (less)
A powerful book, especially for those who come from areas of conflict. Lots of pertinent topics tackled: genocide, PTSD, homelessness and what one per...moreA powerful book, especially for those who come from areas of conflict. Lots of pertinent topics tackled: genocide, PTSD, homelessness and what one person can do to avert evil and help others.
Some quotes and little parables sounded a bit tired to me, but I'm sure they would be fresh to the kids. All in all, somewhat predictable and sugar coated, yet good to teach with a multitude of themes running through it.
I found Dear Life enjoyable, but a bit of a slog. Don’t get me wrong, I admire Alice Munroe and have read most of what she has written. That may actu...moreI found Dear Life enjoyable, but a bit of a slog. Don’t get me wrong, I admire Alice Munroe and have read most of what she has written. That may actually be the problem here. Dear Life is exactly the same as everything Munroe has written before. Just a slight variation to the theme. You may argue that that’s what life is like and I will readily agree. Yet, I didn’t find it as awe inspiring as her earlier work, or as informative as her fictionalized memoir stories. I have my favourites in her work that stunned me into silence for days, but this is not one of them. There is something exceptional about this collection, though. This is the first time Munro writes about her own life and calls it so.