Tuesday, 29 January 2013

New Year Celebrations Around the World

As one New Year Celebration ends and another begins, I wanted to embrace the multiculturalism of our City of Greater Dandenong. Let me introduce to you a selection of ten books on the topic from our library’s various collections which may be new and potentially of interest to you.

Title: Western and Chinese New Year’s Celebrations
Author: Elizabeth Dice
Series: Holidays and Celebrations
Library Collection: Non-Fiction

This is a comprehensive but easy to read book containing factual information on New Year’s Celebrations around the world. It focuses on mainly the Western or Gregorian calendar that was introduced to us by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 and the Chinese Lunar Calendar based on the phases of the new moon. Chinese New Year begins on the first new moon and ends on the first full moon. It is also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year. Celebrations often go for 15 days and begin Mid-January and Early February. (In Australia it will start on the 10th February with the “Year of the Snake”, an animal taken from the Chinese Zodiac. The City of Greater Dandenong has celebrations on Sunday 3 February in Springvale. Many Australians observed New Year’s Eve on 31st December 2012 and New Year’s Day on 1st January 2013.)

The book talks of a time we can reflect on our past and plan for the future with the changing of one year to the next. It mentions the varied celebrations that come with this very old tradition of when an old year ends and a new one begins. New Year’s festivities are celebrated differently around the world and held at different times of the year. It touches on other “Regional Traditions and Customs” from around the globe. It contains not only an introduction to the “Origins of a Calender year” but at the books conclusion it lists the Glossary, Bibliography, Further Resources, including Websites and an Index. Throughout the book are beautiful photographs with detailed captions and small “boxes” of text containing trivia, facts and figures. The chapters are also short and contain headings and sub-headings.

This is a fascinating, interesting, informative and looks to be a well research book on the topic. One that can be picked up to either read a small piece of trivia, a photo caption or small chapter. I would recommend this for late primary through to an adult. It is worth noting that it is written in the Northern Hemisphere so some information is applicable for this half of the globe.

Title: Public Holidays
Author: Clare Renner with Katherine Stewart
Series: Australian Celebrations
Library Collection: Non-Fiction

The introduction touches on world celebrations and holidays that are observed for different reasons. The book then starts to explore specifically Australian celebrations in our multicultural society. Under the headings of National Public Holidays the chapter begins with New Year’s Day and the background to why Australian celebrates on 1st January each year in the Western world. The book mentions the origins of the Julian Calender’s first day of the year then due to an error the Gregorian calendar was then adopted which is the one we use today.

It talks of how Australians are from various backgrounds and celebrate differently. As the weather is often fine at this time of year, families gather together for such things as festivals, picnics or barbeques. The chapter ends with some of the New Year traditions.

This is an appealing, well formatted junior non-fiction book, with easy to read text. It has “boxes” of text with facts, figures and trivia that create added interest. It seems to be a thoroughly researched and informative book. It contains a contents page that lists Australian National, State and Territory public holidays. At the conclusion of the book it has a “Calender of Australian Public Holidays”, Glossary and Index. At the end it has a section titled “Find out More” with useful websites for further research. Also on the back cover we find an excellent summary about this book and mention of others in the “Australian Celebrations” series.

I believe this book to be relevant to primary school students through to an adult, including English learning students, wanting to know more about Australia.

Title: (We Love) Chinese New Year
Author: Saviour Pirotta
Series: We Love
Library Collection: Non-Fiction

This book contains basic paragraphs of information with large font and photographs aimed at a Kindergarten audience. It is written in general terms, rather than in an Australian perspective. It contains interesting facts and trivia and seems to focus on things that are done or enjoyed during Chinese New Year rather than dwelling on its origins. Each chapter is simple with most having a page to a heading; however the book does contain an Index and Glossary which also helps the young child be introduced to how a non-fiction book works. A pleasant and appealing format, as well as an informative read for this age group.

Title: January to March
Author: Cameron Macintosh
Series: Our Special Days
Library Collection: Non-Fiction

This is similar in format and content to the “Public Holidays” book, in that it mentions New Year’s Day and Chinese New Year but it also mentions other special days including Vietnamese New Year or Tet which is especially applicable to City of Greater Dandenong and its Vietnamese community. It gives information on days that we may know little about and how they are celebrated in other parts of Australia, as well as different cultural or patriotic days that are open to all to enjoy. The first chapter opens with a general introduction to Australia’s “Special Days” and how we commemorate “a wide range of special days. Many of these days have become an important part of the way we see ourselves as Australians. They often help us to understand each other better.”

A great book in helping to break down barriers and misunderstandings as well as creating respect and appreciation. Once again I believe it to be relevant to primary school students through to an adult, including English learning students, as well as those wanting to learn more about our country and its people as a whole.

Lunar New Year Celebrations in the City of Greater Dandenong take place on Sunday 3 February Lunar Festival. The libraries will celebrate the New Lunar Year with a traditional Lion Dance performance in Springvale Library at 3pm. Come along and enjoy the festivities!

Title: Let’s Celebrate!: Festival Poems from around the world
Editors: Debjani Chatterjee & Brian D’Arcy
Illustrator: Shirin Adl
Library Collection: RHYMES

Colourful illustrations encompass the poems that celebrate the festivals from the far reaching lands of the globe. Poets from around the world share their story of celebration in this compilation of poetry from many eras and places. The book begins with an introduction and ends with a small, but informative, explanation of various world cultural, traditional and religious festivals. The poets name and county of origin form part of their “signature” at the end each poem. In addition, some have the year it was scribed attached, which creates an added interest. It was a novel way to be informed of various world festivals without the normal non-fiction book format. This is an enjoyable book to share with people of many ages and backgrounds. It may also introduce and encourage people to another style of writing or poetry.

Also, for your added interest, the book begins with the Chinese New Year poem of “The Chinese Dragon” by Catherine Benson (UK).

Title: Chelsea’s Chinese New Year
Author: Lisa Bullard
Illustrator: Katie Saunders
Series: Cloverleaf Books™ – Holidays and Special Days
Library Collection: Picture Book

This picture story book is written in the first person about a little girl Chelsea of Chinese origin growing up in the USA. This is a snap shot of her life as she celebrates Chinese New Year. The book is written in a child friendly format and contains “bubbles” of informative facts elaborating on her story. More interest is created for parent/carer and child by adding the list of twelve animals where one is chosen from each year to match the Chinese calendar. The book also contains a small Glossary and a section to “Learn more” which includes books and websites. The back cover gives a great “blurb” about the book and others in the series.

This is a sweet, charming, yet informative story. One that would appeal to children of all ages.

Title: The Runaway Wok – A Chinese New Year Tale
Author: Ying Chang Compestine
Illustrator: Sebastia Serra
Library Collection: FOLK TALES

Ming, a small poor Chinese boy from Beijing, goes to the market to buy food but returns to his family with an old work. His parents are not impressed. They discover it is a magical singing wok that goes on an adventure bringing good fortune to the village’s poor people. Join the Zhang family in this delightful story of generosity and selflessness.

The tale is written in picture story book style format. At the books conclusion we have the interesting addition of an Author’s note for parent/carers with a brief but informative explanation of Chinese New Year. It emphasises the abundance and importance of various food types and their symbolic meanings, including the Chinese wok which symbolises sharing.

The last page ends with a “Festive Stir-Fried Rice” recipe. A nice touch, I believe, emphasising once again the importance of the abundance of food and sharing at this time.

Enjoy cooking and eating together with family and friends!

Title: A New Year’s Reunion
Author: Yu Li-Qiong
Illustrator: Zhu Cheng-Liang
Library Collection: Picture Book

Maomao a small girl lives with her mother while her father works quite a distance way as a builder. The story is about his eagerly awaited return once a year at New Year’s Holiday. This is a family time sharing in festivals, traditions and celebrations. This is a beautiful and delightful New Year’s story.

On the book’s last page there is a footnote from the author stating that the book is fiction but informing us of the number of “migrant workers” that work far from home. This is printed along with a short profile of the author and illustrator. It is a shame this is stated on the reverse of the very last page of the book. It is easily missed, as the page at the story’s conclusion is patterned and you assume you have come to the end of the book as a whole. It is only by accident I thought to turn the page! This brief explanation from the author I believe gives a greater appreciation and understanding of the story’s origin. Many a family who are separated from their love ones due to work or other reasons will relate to the story in this book.

“A New Year’s Reunion” won the prestigious Feng Zikai Chinese Children's Picture Book Award in 2009 and the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2011.

Title: Fang Fang’s Chinese New Year
Author & Illustrator: Sally Rippin
Series: Fang Fang
Library Collection: Picture Book

A picture story book format with large pictures and minimal sentences. A lovely story of two little Australian girls from different backgrounds. Fang Fang was born in China but came to Australia as an infant. Her mother encourages Fang Fang to invite her friend Lisa to celebrate Chinese New Year with the family but thinks she may not enjoy the festivities and be “bored”. Lisa’s reaction to the occasion may not be what you expect! Join Lisa on her journey of discovery!

A great story of sharing and mutual appreciation of different backgrounds. At the books conclusion there is a helpful Glossary with a brief explanation of Chinese New Year and some of its greetings and symbols. This is a story that has been around since the late 1990’s but one that never grows old. This would appeal to many generations.

Sally Rippin won The Crichton Award for Children's Book Illustration for "Fang Fang's Chinese New Year" in 1997. Some of the books in the “Fang Fang” series, as well as others, have formed part of the Victorian Premiers Reading Challenge booklists. She is also a Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge Ambassador. Sally Rippin is a prolific and popular children’s writer.

Title: Tale of Rhonda Rabbit
Author: Sarah Brennan
Illustrator: Harry Harrison
Series: The Chinese Calender Tales
Library Collection: FOLK TALES

Unfortunately as this book review goes to print, The tale of Sybil Snake, which is more applicable to 2013 being the “Year of the Snake”, is unavailable. I decided, however, to still review the Tale of Rhonda Rabbit, as I’m guessing it would be of a similar format to the other book in The Chinese Calender Tales series.

An Emperor Qin Shi Huan in the early days of China is not impressed with his missing vegetables from the “royal vegetable patch”. Is it Rhonda Rabbit, with a not too pleasing reputation and big appetite or someone else? Join in on the adventure and see how it all ends?

Sarah is a brilliant and clever storyteller. Her delightful and humorous tale is written in poetry and rhyme. (A great and fun way to introduce anyone to poetry.) The illustrations of characters are “weird and wacky” and form a large part of the pages in this book.

The book is fiction but “boxes” of text in the inside front and back covers provide a brief explanation of the stories origins i.e. The Chinese Calender, Qin Shi Huang and the Great Wall of China, The Legend of the Rabbit in the Noon and The year of the Rabbit. This creates a better appreciation of the story.

This is probably best suited for a Junior age group to read, as the pages are full of text, however, I believe it would be a great book to read out loud and share with an audience of kindergarten or primary school age students.


Monday, 21 January 2013

Eugenia : a true story of adversity, tragedy, crime and courage by Mark Tedeschi QC

An absolutely riveting presentation of a tragic and extraordinary biographical account of Eugenia Falleni.

Falleni was a woman, who in 1920 was charged with the murder of her wife. She had lived in Australia as a man and during that time married twice. Three years after the mysterious disappearance of Annie, her first wife, Eugenia was arrested and charged with her murder. This is the story of one of the most extraordinary trials in Austalia’s legal history. The book traces Eugenia’s history from her early years in New Zealand and explores how Eugenia, living as Harry Crawford, managed to convince two wives that she/he was a man and the legal case around the disappearance of Harry’s first wife.

This book is true crime, gritty and gripping written by Mark Tedeschi, QC who brings this to life in a very readable way as well as putting a perspective on the miscarriage of justice that was allowed to take place back in the 1920s that would not prevail today. It includes a tragic main character who believed she was a man trapped in the body of a woman, sexual deception in the dark, an allegation of murder, an over exuberant police investigation, a press gone feral, the discrepancy of skills between prosecutor and defence barrister and much more.

Visit: Eugenia Falleni


Monday, 14 January 2013

Get the Gringo starring Mel Gibson

The story centres around Mel Gibson's character who's a criminal called the Driver and is sent to a Mexican prison. Once there, he attempts to survive with the assistance of a ten year old boy. The odds are against him and everyone else. The film throws corruption at us in every way and you have to be warned that the language and violence is strong. The movie is rated MA15+.

I liked this movie because it has some great twists, the acting is great and gives me something to cheer for as well as to sit back enjoy Mel’s action. I would definitely recommend this movie to whoever likes Mel Gibson and good action/adventure movies with lots of twists.


Monday, 7 January 2013

New Fiction for January

Why not start the brand new year with a brand new fiction title? The library has the following new titles to tempt you:

Daughters of the Mersey Anne Baker
Rubbernecker Belinda Bauer
Hit me Lawrence Block
Speaking from among the bones Alan Bradley
Bloodfire quest Terry Brooks
Suspect Robert Crais
Moonlight masquerade Jude Deveraux
Touch and go Lisa Gardner
Death in St James’s Park Susanna Gregory
Trader’s sister Anna Jacobs
Deadly business Quintin Jardine
Wind through the keyhole Stephen King
Don’t let me go Susan Lewis
Don’t want to miss a thing Jill Mansell
Cottage by the sea Carole Matthews
Winter wonderland Fern Michaels
Back to Pilliga Tony Parsons
Alex Cross, run James Patterson
12th of never James Patterson
Calculated in death J.D Robb
Ritual in death & Missing in death J.D Robb
Spellbound & Ever after Nora Roberts
In dreams & Winter Rose Nora Roberts
Skybound sea Sam Sykes

Visit our catalogue to place your free hold!