Kasey & Ivy – Alison Hughes

Kasey has just learned she needs to spend an entire month in hospital. She’ll be away from her family and friends and surrounded instead by old people.

And you know how old people creep me out, Nina. I can’t help it. The slowness. The teeth. The tendency to be super crabby.

Kasey passes the time by writing a series of letters about the experience to Nina, her best friend. She also has Ivy, who helps her through the lonely and scary nights.

While she’s waiting to be released back into the world outside, Kasey makes some friends and realises how lucky she is. There wasn’t much of a transition between Kasey complaining about her situation and coming to the realisation that she has much to be thankful for.

Sometimes it felt like Kasey was younger than twelve and I wondered if this was because the author was reflecting on their own hospitalisation when they were nine years old.

I also wondered why Kasey was hospitalised and hooked up to an IV before she was even officially diagnosed. There wasn’t really any indication of how she was feeling physically during her hospitalisation either.

In the beginning of the book I wondered why this twelve year old was handwriting letters (this was answered) and why she didn’t spend her time complaining about the lack of internet access.

I had expected much of this story to consist of Kasey visiting the other patients and learning their stories. She did interact with some of the other patients but not as much as I had originally hoped.

I absolutely loved Missy Wong, though, and was delighted to learn that she was based on a real person. I also liked Louise, although I really wish I had learned the details of why she didn’t want to go home.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Orca Book Publishers for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Through twenty-six letters to her friend Nina, twelve-year-old Kasey chronicles the often humourous observations and impressions of her unexpected, month-long stay in a geriatric ward for the treatment of a rare but treatable bone disease (“osteo-something-something-itis”).

Kasey tries to make her life less dull by wearing her own nightgowns, surrounding herself with her favourite stuffies and developing an unusual exercise routine. Hospital food, insomnia and the germy communal bath are enduring sources of dread, but some new (and unexpected) friends make her life bearable.

The Seal Garden – Nicholas Read

Photography – Ian McAllister

This is the second of the My Great Bear Rainforest series that I’ve read. Having previously fallen in love with A Bear’s Life I looked forward to reading The Seal Garden. Once again Ian McAllister’s photography is gorgeous! I noted (and appreciated) in the fine print at the beginning of the book that there has been no digital manipulation of the images.

Although this book is nonfiction the conversational tone and story about a storm and what the animals do to protect themselves during it pull the reader in. I liked the link between this book and A Bear’s Life, where we’re told how the animals of the forest will be taking cover during the storm before the seal garden is introduced. The story of the protection that the seal garden provides seals and other smaller animals from predators such as orcas gives readers an interesting overview into the lives of these beautiful mammals.

This book is for readers from 5 to 8 years and both the writing style and content are appropriate for this age group. When the orcas came on the scene I was personally dreading a scene out of a David Attenborough documentary (you know the type I’m referring to) but am pleased to report that no seals are harmed in the narrative or photographs in this book. Phew! 😅

In some photos you get the impression that the seals know all about cameras and are hamming it up for the photographer. In others I just about melted as I gazed into their huge, dark eyes. 😍 I don’t have a favourite photo of the seals because they’re just so darn loveable.

I do, however, have a favourite orca photo. It shows two orcas, one with its head above water. The composition and lighting are perfect. The movement of the orcas is evident through the ripples in the water and the fine spray in the air above them. It’s a truly stunning photo.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Orca Book Publishers for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When storms roar and orcas are on the prowl, it’s the seal gardens of the Great Bear Sea that provide safety and shelter to sea lions, otters, a variety of seals and other sea mammals. Ian McAllister’s glorious photographs reveal the beauty and mystery of this rarely seen place of refuge. This is the third title in the My Great Bear Rainforest series, following Wolf Island and A Bear’s Life

You Hold Me Up – Monique Gray Smith

Illustrations – Danielle Daniel

You Hold Me Up is a lovely picture book that teaches children empathy, compassion, love and the importance of supporting one another. I’ve read this book twice so far and the second read was as sweet and heartwarming as my first time through.

Danielle Daniel’s illustrations are bright, colourful and happy. I loved that the principles outlined in this book are shown clearly relating to children’s interactions with not only their peers, but also adults and family.

I particularly loved the author’s note at the end of the book that provided deeper meaning to this project, that of much needed reconciliation and healing for Canada’s Indigenous population as a result of 150 years of abuse suffered by children in Indian Residential (boarding) Schools.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Orca Book Publishers for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

This vibrant picture book, beautifully illustrated by celebrated artist Danielle Daniel, encourages children to show love and support for each other and to consider each other’s well-being in their everyday actions.

Consultant, international speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote You Hold Me Up to prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with their friends, classmates and families. This is a foundational book about building relationships, fostering empathy and encouraging respect between peers, starting with our littlest citizens.

A Bear’s Life – Nicholas Read

Photography – Ian McAllister

I adore this book! Written in a conversational tone, this book would be perfect for parents to read to their younger children and for older children to read to themselves. With enough information to capture your interest but without the information overload that leaves you bored, A Bear’s Life would be a fantastic resource to assist children writing school reports and will be sure to teach their parents new information as well.

Following a year in the life of British Columbia’s black bears, grizzly bears and spirit bears, the words are complemented by spectacular photography. You almost feel as though you could reach out and touch the bears in some of the images. The changes in layout and the scatterings of bear paw prints throughout the book work together, unlike some children’s nonfiction books where the layout on each page remains the same and becomes stale by the end. There’s a great balance between words and images, and there aren’t any pages that look cluttered.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Orca Book Publishers for the opportunity to read this book. I’d recommend this book to children and parents alike, and imagine it being used in classrooms, as well as public and school libraries. I’ll be looking out for more books in this series.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Black bears, grizzly bears, and spirit bears all make their home in the Great Bear Rainforest. A Bear’s Life uses Ian McAllister’s stunning photographs to follow these beautiful animals through a year in the British Columbia wilderness–catching fish, eating berries, climbing trees and taking long naps.

A Bear’s Life is the second in the My Great Bear Rainforest series.