Tag Archives: mcnally robinson

Another Plug For Books And Brushes

middle sex at mcnallys'I was so pleased and excited to see this lovely display at McNally Robinson on Thursday night when I was there for my writers’ group meeting.  I am leading a book club at the Winnipeg Art Gallery based on the book Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.  We are going to have a great discussion on May 21 at 11:30.  Come and join us.   We will be talking about the book and looking at some art pieces I’ve picked out that can connect with the book. You still have time to read the novel.  As you can see McNally’s still has plenty of copies. Even if you don’t finish the book come and join us.  You can find out how to register here and you can find out more about what we will be doing here.   Would love to see you on the 21st!!

 

 

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Coop the Great- A Book That’s Not Just For Dog Lovers

I was once bit on the nose by a dachshund and needed several stitches. My nose ballooned up to about triple its size.  I was a teenager at the time and was soooooooo embarrassed because my Mom made me go to school despite the fact that thanks to a dachshund I looked like a clown. That’s important for you to know before I offer my review of Larry Verstraete’s new middle grade novel Coop the Great.  The main character is……… you guessed it……… a dachshund.  You have to understand that I am not really a dog person and in particular not a dachshund lover.  

So the fact I enjoyed Larry‘s book despite my lack of affinity for canines should be an indication of just how good a story it is.  The novel taught me some very interesting things about dogs and I was amazed at how Larry was able to consistently let us see the world from a dog’s perspective. 

Coop is an aging pet who struggles with health issues and some past problems with the families who have offered him a home. In that regard he is not unlike his owner Mike who is getting on in years and is dealing with cancer and heart issues. Mike has lost his wife, and is worried about his daughter Jess and his grandchildren Zach and Emma who are being threatened by an abusive husband and father. 

Larry’s publishing team from Great Plains Publications meet Darnold.

Coop enters Mike’s life from a dog shelter and when author Larry Verstraete launched his book at McNally Robinson this month he had a special guest, a dog named Darnold from D’arcy’s ARC,a Winnipeg shelter much like the one in the book.

Larry signs a book for one of our writing group members

Larry is a member of my writers’ group.  I respect Larry and am inspired by his success.  Coop the Great is his seventeenth published book for children. I am lucky I get to benefit from his expertise and experience with regards to my own work on a regular basis. I was honored to have my name mentioned in the book’s afterword as Larry acknowledged the input he receives from our writing group. 

In some ways Coop reminded me of The Littlest Hobo a television series about a dog that was popular when I was about ten years old- the age of Larry’s target audience for his book.  Coop proves to be every bit as daring and brave as The Littlest Hobo  but I liked him more than my childhood television hero. Coop is such a colorful, quirky and interesting character.  

On the cover of Larry’s book Coop has some ear buds wrapped around his neck.  It’s a clue to the exciting climax of the story that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Although Coop is definitely the novel’s main protagonist the story is also about Mike’s grandson Zack and the way he deals with his difficult family situation.  That was a helpful thing for me to read about in reference to the work I do with children, and I am sure other adults in similar professions will feel the same way. 

Larry’s book Coop the Great is an interesting, exciting and inspiring read even if you aren’t a dog lover. 

Other posts…………..

Writer or Palaeontologist?

A Glamorous Night For Manitoba Writing

Launching Not One Book But Three

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Tantalizing Tidbits

Claude Monet in His Studio Boat- painted by Edouard Manet – 1874

Did you know that before the impressionist artist Edouard Manet got to know Claude Monet he would become extremely upset and irritated when art critics reviewing both of their work got the two artists mixed up because their last names sounded so similar?

The Monet Family in The Garden at Argenteuil -by Edouard Manet- 1874

Later Manet and Monet became friends and Manet even painted a family portrait of Monet, his wife Camille and their son Jean. 

Camille Pissarro and his wife Julie Vellay at Pontoise in 1877. Julie was once Pissarro’s mother’s maid. 

Did you know that Paul Cezanne, Alfred Sisley, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet and Camille Pissarro all had long-term romantic relationships that their parents highly disapproved of ? Some of them had to keep their relationships a secret in order to continue receiving money from their families. 

Madame Rene D’ Gas by Edgar Degas- 1873

Did you know the artist Edgar Degas visited his brother in New Orleans and while there painted a beautiful portrait of his blind sister-in-law?  

Berthe Morisot Reclining- by Edouard Manet- 1873

Did you know that impressionist artist Berthe Morisot was a frequent model for fellow artist Edouard Manet and some of his paintings of her are very suggestive and sensual? Later Berthe would marry Edouard’s brother Eugene. 

Camille Pissarro Self Portrait- 1873

Did you know that during the Franco-Prussian war nearly 1,500 paintings of Pissarro’s were destroyed? 

Those are just a few of the tantalizing tidbits I have already discovered while reading The Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe.  I will be leading a discussion of the book on August 7th at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  You still have time to buy the book at McNally Robinson and join me. You can register here.  I was at McNally’s last Thursday and there were still plenty copies of the book available. 

Other posts………

Without Him We Might Not Have Heard of Monet

A Tale of Two Portraits

Who is She? 

 

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Octogenarian Story Teller Extraordinaire

I read in the Winnipeg Free Press on the weekend that Roland Penner had died.  He was a high-profile lawyer, a professor at the University of Manitoba, member of the Manitoba legislature, and served as the province’s attorney general.   I knew him however as a storyteller.  

Photo by Joe Bryska/Winnipeg Free Press

In 2012 I took a course from Roland at the McNally Robinson Community Classroom called Winnipeg Fact and Fiction where he told stories about events from Winnipeg history and then introduced us to books that had those same events as their focus.  I remember three of the classes in particular. One in which he taught us about the Winnipeg strike and we looked at Margaret Sweatman’s novel Fox.  Another where he described famous criminal cases tried in Winnipeg and introduced us to Heather Robertson’s biography of robber Kenneth Leishman The Flying Bandit and another where we examined the Winnipeg immigrant experience and Fredelle Maynard’s memoire Raisins and Almonds. 

In 2012 I had just moved to Winnipeg and taking the course from Roland was a great way to connect with the history of the city that was to be my new home. He made every class so interesting.  He was 86 at the time. In one of the blog posts I wrote about the course I described Roland as an ‘octogenarian story teller extraordinaire’. It is clear from his obituary Roland Penner lived his life story to the fullest and left an extraordinary mark on our province’s and city’s histories. He was 93. 

Other posts……..

Winnipeg General Strike

The Flying Bandit

 Winnipeg Mennonite Immigrant Fiction

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You Are Invited to Books and Brushes!

I am leading the book club sessions at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in November and this is your invitation to join me!  Books and Brushes is a new venture. It’s designed for people who love books or love art or love both. The book we will discuss on on Tuesday November 21 from 11:30 am to 1 pm. and again on Friday November 24 from 7:30-9 pm is a perfect fit for Books and Brushes because it contains short essays by famous authors who describe their favorite art gallery or museum in the world. The book is called Treasure Palaces: Great Writers Visit Great Museums. It is edited by Maggie Fergusson.   McNally Robinson book store in the Grant Park Mall has stocked up on copies and they are available in their art writing section. The nice thing about a book of essays is you can read them one at a time whenever you have a few minutes and even if you don’t read them all you can still come and enjoy talking about the ones you have read with the other book club attendees. We will look at some of the artwork mentioned by the various essay writers and then we’ll go out into the galleries at the WAG.  I am excited about the ways I think we will be able to make connections between the artwork referred to in the book and the artwork in our current exhibits.  

You have to sign up to attend Books and Brushes and you can do so by e-mailing education@wag.ca

I’d love to see you there!

Other posts…………

Art Tours Inspired by Books- What a Great Idea!

A Bottomless Vortex of Books

Is It Art?

 

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Getting To Know Emma Donoghue in Person

Emma was interviewed at McNally Robinson Booksellers by Winnipeg International Writer’s Festival Director Charlene Diehl

Emma Donoghue’s latest book is set in a Toronto mansion with thirty- two rooms. The house is inhabited by two sets of gay parents, seven children named after trees, a frightened cat, inquisitive rat, crippled parrot and three-legged dog.

You might know Emma as the author of Room. She also wrote the Oscar nominated screenplay for the movie based on the novel. I had the pleasure of hearing her interviewed at Winnipeg’s McNally Robinson Book Sellers last week.

Emma, the author of several successful adult novels is currently promoting a new project, a book for children called The Lotterys Plus One. Emma wants to show readers just how diverse families can be and The Lotterys Plus One certainly does that. The four parents in the novel come from India, Jamaica, Scotland and the Mohawk Nation. Many of the seven children are adopted. One has attention deficit disorder, another a physical disability, and a third gender identity issues.

Striking illustrations like this one by Caroline Hadilaksono help readers sort out all the characters in The Lotterys Plus One. 

The children are all home schooled and the parents don’t work because long ago they found a winning lottery ticket that left them financially set for life. Things are ticking along as normally as can be expected in this unusual household until a grandfather moves in because he is suffering from dementia. How will the family cope with this cantankerous newcomer?

We learned quite a bit about Emma’s personal and family life from her talk with Charlene Diehl

Author Emma Donoghue grew up in a large Catholic family in Dublin Ireland but now lives in London, Ontario where she parents two children with her partner Chris. Emma told us she used some of her own parenting experiences in The Lotterys Plus One. For example the children in the novel get head lice, something that has happened several times to Emma’s children. Emma says when her children do something funny or interesting she will ask them, “Can I use that for one of my book characters?”

I was curious how Emma had found the switch from writing for adults to writing for children. She says writing for children is much harder. It took her six years to write The Lotterys Plus One. She is a busy woman with as many as ten writing projects on the go at once, short stories, poetry, novels, screenplays and children’s books. She collects ideas for all ten projects in separate files on her phone. She finds inspiration everywhere and making notes in her phone is the handiest way to keep a record of things as soon as she sees or experiences them. Later she transfers these files to her computer.

Emma answers questions from the audience

After Emma’s interview the audience had a chance to ask her questions. One young girl said she wanted her mother to write books too and asked Emma if she could teach her Mom how to write a book. Emma said, “Everyone has a book in them. Your Mom does too. She just needs the time and space to write it.”

Another audience member said she had never seen the movie Room because there was no way it could compare to the book. Emma said she loves the movie version of Room. She thinks the director did a marvelous job with her story.

I asked her what books she had read as a child and she said pretty much anything but did mention Jane Austen, Enid Blyton and C.S. Lewis. She said she had loved fairy tales.

My friend Wendy getting her copy The Lotterys Plus One signed by Emma Donoghue

Her new book is a bit of a modern fairy tale and I think Emma knows that, but she also hopes the diverse family in The Lotterys Plus One will help her readers realize it can be enriching and positive to have an open mind about what  we consider to be “ideal” when it comes to family life.

Other posts………

Writing For Children- Not As Easy As I Thought

Writer or Palaeontologist?

Chocogasm Course at McNally Robinson Booksellers

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Broken Stone

I loved the photographs Carol Shields included in Stone Diaries.  After I read the book I carefully studied the photos trying to link characters in the story to people in the photographs.

broken-stone

I felt the same way about the photos Gabriele Goldstone includes in her new novel Broken Stone.  I studied the photographs for a long time after I finished the book, mentally trying to connect the people in the pictures  with the characters in the story they inspired.

family-photos-Broken Stone is the second in a series based at least in part on the experiences of author Gabriele Goldstone’s own mother in Ukraine, Siberia and East Prussia. 

gabriele goldstone

Gabriele Goldstone signs copies of her book for her fans.

I went to the launch of Broken Stone at McNally Robinson on Thursday and thanks to Gabriele spent the better part of my Saturday reading her book. I had already finished Red Stone the first book in the series, and was anxious to find out what awaited its heroine Katya Halter. 

family photosAlthough Katya escapes communist Russia early on in the book, more challenges await her at the home of her aunt and uncle in Prussia. While the book tells Katya’s personal story it is set against the backdrop of Hitler’s growing popularity and rise to power and so we learn about that period in German history as we read.  The book ends with Katya leaving her family and striking out on her own.  What adventures lie ahead?  I guess I will have to wait for the third book in the series to find out. 

goldstone reading

Gabriele Goldstone reads to her audience from Broken Stone on Thursday night.

Broken Stone is targeted for young people and would be a great way for the many families  in Canada who have post World War I roots in Ukraine or Germany to give their children and grandchildren an interesting insight into their family history. 

Other posts……

Red Stone

The Disappeared

Remembering

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