It’s Monday yet again, but now we’re in July! Holy smokes, we’re half way through the year! The weather has been absolutely stunning here in Raincity, with blue skies, warm temperatures and cool breezes. It’s pretty much weather perfection. Hopefully the weather’s behaving itself where you are, too!
Here’s what I’ve been reading:
If you’re looking to add a bit of colour to your reading life, have I got the books for you! Last week on the blog I reviewed What’s Your Favorite Color?, a collection of illustrated poems and anecdotes from some of children’s literature’s favourite illustrators. It’s very creative and lots of fun, and would be a fantastic lead-up to a creative kids’ activity. If you want to find out my favourite colour, you’ll just have to click on the link and check out the review! 😉
Later in the week, while weeding my overflowing picture book shelves, I came across My Blue is Happy, by Jessica Young, with utterly charming illustrations by Catia Chien.
A little girl explains what different colours means to her, while comparing her feelings with those of others. For example, while others find grey gloomy and dreary, it reminds the little girl of rainy afternoons spent curled up with her grandma, her cat and a good book. And while her best friend loves the colour pink, and associates it with a ballerina’s tutu, our narrator is instead reminded of itchy bug bites and sticky gum on the bottom of her shoe!
In the end, the little girl decides that colours can mean different things to different people, and that’s a-ok, because we’re all different! This would be another lovely picture book to pair with a creative kids activity, where kids can explain and illustrate the different ways they feel about different colours. It could be fascinating for kids to compare and contrast their approaches and associations, and could lead into a great discussion on preferences, opinions, and perceptions. It’s never too early to encourage kids to have these kinds of conversations.
By the way, as a Canadian, the phrase “favourite colour” just looks so sad and empty and wrong when it’s missing its “u“s!
Thanks to my new commute (I can’t believe it’s already been three weeks since I started my new job!!!) I’ve been reading more than ever, so I’m likely going to have a few more grown-up books to share here on the blog in future. My most recent discovery has been a thoroughly enjoyable medieval murder mystery series from English author Michael Jenks. My two favourite fiction genres are mystery and historical fiction, so any book that promises to combine the two is sure to catch my eye! Michael Jecks is ridiculously prolific, and the novel I picked up, The Tolls of Death, is actually the seventeenth book in the his Templars series. Here’s the publisher’s summary:
After their gruelling journeys back from Galicia and Scilly, Sir Baldwin Furnshill, Keeper of the King’s Peace, and his friend Bailiff Simon Puttock are at last back on the English mainland, dumped unceremoniously when their shipmaster partakes of his cargo and almost wrecks the ship. Eager to get home, Baldwin and Simon set off on horseback but only get as far as Cardinham on Bodmin Moor.
While they rest in this Cornish vill, a penniless young woman, Athelina, is found hanged alongside the dead bodies of her children.
At first this seems to be the final act of a desperate woman, but then suspicions are raised, and Simon and Baldwin are asked to investigate her death. But where can they start? The Constable seems to run the whole place as his own fiefdom; the miller ignores the law with impunity; even the priests are too scared to talk. The rivalry and feuding seems to involve the whole of Cardinham – including the castle’s men-at-arms and the strange, grim-faced squire who has so recently arrived. Who is he, and what is his interest in the affairs of the villagers? And why won’t the men in the castle enforce the Manor’s laws?
Yet among the peasants someone knows more about the death than they are letting on. Simon and Baldwin soon realise that Athelina’s death is not just an isolated incident; the killings go back many years, to a very old feud.
As the escape of a traitor threatens to embroil the country in a new civil war, and as rebels are sought out by the King’s men up and down the land, Simon and Baldwin must look beneath the village friendships and family loyalties to find an evil killer and secure Cardinham’s safety – but when law and order fail, how can any man hope for justice?
Jecks’ talent and passion for historical fiction is obvious from the very first page. The murder story line kept me guessing right to the end, while the historical details, of which there were many, were inserted seamlessly and naturally throughout the text. Unfortunately all to many historical fiction authors seem desperate to show off their research and derail the story with jarring exposition dumps, which I was happy to see avoided in this instance. While the protagonists obviously had a long history together, they were introduced with just enough explanation to get new readers quickly up to steam. There were some aspects of the story that didn’t quite work for me, but I really do enjoy Jecks’ easy and natural writing style, and I immediately picked up another of his books! If you enjoy medieval settings, I’d highly suggest picking up one of the Templar mysteries – I’ve only read one so far, but I do have high hopes for the rest of the 20+ books in the series.
And there you have it! I will of course have some book reviews coming up during the week, so please do check back in if you’d like to read those, and if you missed my Canada-themed Poetry Friday post, feel free to check that out, too!
Have a great week, everyone!!