Archive | June 2011

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider

I must lodge a complaint. Just how was I not supposed to buy this book? The more often I attend the Write! Canada conference and the more guild members I get to know, the more it would be like saying no to a dear friend…several of them actually.

To begin with, I haven’t been a big fan of anthologies. Don’t ask me why because I have no rational explanation. And I may even submit something for A Third Cup… (N.J. and Wendy should just ignore that comment. I’m sure they don’t even want to think about editing another in the series–not yet anyway.)

But here I sit with A Second Cup… beside me. I have already read the poetry selections and am working my way through the others. Is it too cliche to say “There’s something for everyone” and “It will make you laugh; it will make you cry”? Cliche or not, there is and it will.

So, what have I discovered about anthologies? Sh, don’t tell, but I think I might just like them after all–especially when the stories are engaging, thought-provoking, and written by those who are willing to work hard to make their contributions the best they can be.

So, if like me, you want to read the work of skilled Canadian writers such as Heather McGillivray, M.D. Meyer, Paul M. Beckingham, and Les Lindquist, pick up a copy of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. I also suggest checking out the Hot Apple Cider Anthologies page on facebook.

All kidding aside, I do want to thank N.J. Lindquist and Wendy Elaine Nelles for the hours they spent editing A Second Cup… I also want to thank the 37 writers of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry who shared their talent and their heart with us. Kudos to each of you.

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The Cardboard Shack Beneath the Bridge

This past week I had the privilege of hearing Tim Huff speak at the Write! Canada conference in Guelph, ON. Tim works with the homeless and seeks to educate others about this all-too-often misunderstood and neglected segment of society. He does so in a down-to-earth, humorous way. It’s the classic “you’ll-laugh-you’ll-cry” kind of presentation.

Tim also writes for adults and for children. The Cardboard Shack… was written to educate our sons and daughters. However, as parents and caregivers read the text, we too will find ourselves being educated–and reminded that homeless people are still people.

The book includes “Page-by-Page Discussion and Information Helps.” Instead of offering pat answers, the comments and questions are open-ended. They’ll get our children thinking. And they’ll do the same for us.

And as Tim says, “Discuss it with your teacher, and share it with your friends. Be kind. Remind your family that caring never ends.”

By purchasing The Cardboard Shack... we, too, can help these precious people. Part of the proceeds go to Youth Unlimited, The Daily Bread Food Bank, The Ladybug Foundation, and Frontlines. And while that’s wonderful, if we allow the book to stir our hearts, we may find ourselves seeking ways to be even more personally involved.

After all, Matthew 25:37-40 (KJV) says, “Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (italics mine)

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book

Is it OK to review a book I haven’t read yet?

I sure hope so.

Everything… caught my eye when I was at the bookstore today, and I just had to bring it home.

When I babysat, I would go to the library and bring home stacks of picture books. I came across some that were brilliantly written, books I was sure I enjoyed and appreciated far more than the children did. I would still love to have a collection of my favourites, despite the fact that my youngest is 21 and I haven’t babysat in years.

Obviously, I am not alone in my belief that children’s books have much to teach us. Many, from Roger Ebert to Stan Lee to Beverly Cleary, agree. These are only three of the “notable people” whose comments appear in Everything…

Not to worry if you haven’t read the books they refer to. In most cases, an excerpt and a biography of the author appear next to the readers’ comments. It’s great. I especially like the fact that they also include a picture of most of the book covers, many of which I recognize even if I haven’t read the books.

Burnet’s The Secret Garden, Seuss’s Horton Hatches the Egg, and Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are among the books that have taught lessons about imagination, morality, and wonder.

Some I haven’t even heard of, books like Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Rylant’s Waiting to Waltz, and Burton’s The Little House. They make me want to tuck myself away in a corner of the children’s library and read for an afternoon. I just may have to do that.

If you love children’s books–or are willing to at least give them a chance–Everything… may be just the book to launch you into the wonders awaiting you in their pages.

Natural Hospital Birth

Cynthia Gabriel’s Natural Hospital Birth has made it to the top of my if-you-only-read-one-book-on-childbirth…list. It caught my eye in the bookstore because my current clients want the most natural birth experience possible yet will be giving birth in hospital, where achieving their goal is often difficult.

As a doula, I have been encouraged to include one book in my bag that will prove helpful when I attend births. For me, this is it. Whether I’m attending a home birth or a hospital birth, this resource will prove indispensable.

As a PhD in medical anthropology, professor, researcher, doula, and mother, Gabriel is uniquely qualified to write on the subject. Though highly educated, the author writes in a way that is accessible to all readers.

NHB is divided into three parts: Preparing for Your Baby’s Birth; Giving Birth; and the last section, Pulling it All Together, which includes only one chapter, Birth Your Way.

Gabriel says, “Your feelings about safety are the single most important factor in how your baby’s birth will unfold.” She devotes an entire chapter to the topic. And in reality, the whole book serves the purpose of dispelling fear. Readers are taught what occurs in each stage of labor and childbirth. They also learn how the support team can best help the laboring mom.

Too often hospital staff are not taught the natural options for pain relief and common concerns such as encouraging the baby to change positions should he or she be facing “the wrong direction.” It is important for moms, dads, and others to learn these options–and when appropriate, discuss them with their midwife or doctor–before labor begins.

Gabriel does not recommend being confrontational. After all, the medical team is there to ensure the safety of mother and baby. However, there are options to those measures commonly used in hospital births, and it is up to expectant mothers to educate themselves and choose what is best for them. As Gabriel says, it’s possible to have “the best of both worlds.”

In my opinion, who should read this book? Expectant parents. Members of their support team. Those who plan to have children in the future. Midwives. Nurses. Doctors. Even those who are simply interested in the topic.