Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11, by James Donovan (2019)

Nonfiction | 14-Adult

Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11, by James Donovan

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the historical first landing of humans on the moon, it’s the perfect time to delve deeply into the science and the story behind that astonishing feat of human endeavour. I was alive but not even five years old when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the moon while Mike Collins piloted the orbiting command module, so I don’t actually remember this event. Despite that, it’s definitely part of my cultural history, as I’ve spent my life looking toward the stars and planets. This book is the story of the American space mission from Mercury through to Apollo 11; in fact, of the 400 pages of the actual narrative (there’s another 50 pages for addenda and index), only about 65 pages are devoted to the Apollo 11 voyage itself, from launch to return. So if all you want is the Apollo 11 story, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

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Ottolenghi SIMPLE, by Yotam Ottolenghi (2018)

Nonfiction | Adult

Ottolenghi Simple, by Yotam Ottolenghi

Sometimes I’m totally oblivious to a hot new trend. Apparently Yotam Ottolenghi is practically a household name in Canadian kitchens. Never heard of him, myself. But the gorgeous cookbook on display at my local library called out to me, and the full-colour photos sealed the deal. Cookbooks without photos are cheaper but without that inspiration the recipes are likely to go untried, right? So into my bag it went, and I’ve been enjoying browsing these delicious and simple yet exotic takes on fresh produce. Ottolenghi is British, known for his modern recipes using tasty Middle Eastern spices and ingredients with a focus on fresh produce.

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Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You’ll Never Hear, by Carl Hiaasen, illustrated by Roz Chast (2018)

Nonfiction
Adult

Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You'll Never Hear, by Carl Hiaasen, illustrated by Roz Chast (2018)

It’s graduation season at colleges and universities, so here’s a suggestion for a new grad in your life. A wee book (it’s just 43 pages, about $20 in hardcover), it is a good one to pair with the Seuss classic Oh, The Places You’ll Go, or if you can find it, H. Jackson Brown’s Life’s Little Instruction Book. This offers a gloomier perspective, and comes with couple of f-bombs along with lots of dark humour. Essentially, the message is that the world is going to hell, and you’ll find greater happiness (worth pursuing) by keeping your expectations low. Hiaasen, one of the few great writers for both kids and adults, begins by tearing apart the usual platitudes found in commencement speeches.

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Canadian Rockies, 9th ed., by Andrew Hempstead (2018)

Nonfiction
Adult

Canadian Rockies: Including Banff & Jasper National Parks, by Andrew Hempstead

This is the second of two book reviews this week, encouraging you to travel British Columbia. Moon travel guides are known for their extensive and off-the-beaten-track approach, and this latest edition of the Canadian Rockies guidebook is no exception. The Rockies are big, and you can spend a lifetime exploring park trails, lakes, and parks, and not see it all. This book is best for those who are relatively new to the parks. Hampstead lives in Banff and knows his Rockies. He starts with an overview for first-time visitors, including the 12 best day hikes (I’ve done only three), offering one-week and two-week itineraries that showcase the region’s highlights.

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Camping British Columbia, the Rockies, and Yukon, 8th ed., by Jayne Seagrave (2018)

Adult
Nonfiction

Camping British Columbia, the Rockies and Yukon, 9th edition, by Jayne Seagrave

This is the first of two reviews this week. Both are on travel in B.C. and the Rockies, as I hope to inspire you to plan a road trip in our beautiful region. I have an earlier edition of this book, so I was happy to discover an updated version on the New Books shelf at my library. With more than half the 100,000 B.C. Parks campsites reservable online, guides like this help you discover exactly what you are looking for, whether that’s a destination park for the family or a hidden getaway as a backpacking haven. Seagrave opens with an introduction aimed at first-time campers, from reserving to selecting a spot at a first-come-first-served campground and setting up your temporary home.

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The Lost Words, by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris (2017, 2018)

Nonfiction
8 to adult

The Lost Words, by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris (2018)

Pick up a copy of the Oxford Junior Dictionary and you’ll find the latest technological words like chatroom, blog and voicemail. But you won’t find acorn, buttercup, minnow, panther, and dozens of other natural world words that were cut to make room for the new entries. Robert MacFarlane noticed, and decided to do something. He collaborated with artist Jackie Morris to create what they call a “spell book” in a bid to conjure back 20 of the lost words. Both are British, and there is a decidedly British flavour to the book, celebrating childhood fascinations for conkers and brambles, newts and wrens, weasels and willows, though happily these are words equally familiar to Canadians and Americans, and doubtless in many other English-speaking places.

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Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School (#1), by Julie Falatko, illus. by Colin Jack (2018)

Humourous Fiction
7-10

Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School, by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Colin Jack (2018)

Sometimes a title just grabs you and says Read Me. This is one of those titles. It’s the first of two reviews I’m doing this week, both of them books for children. There are three books in the “Two Dogs in a Trench Coat” series; this is the first. Sassy and Waldo are two dogs whose lives are devoted to eating food, protecting the household from the evil squirrels, and napping in the sun. Until they realize Stewart, the boy in their house, needs saving from a place called School, a place he goes every day and returns dejected and bored. Thanks to Waldo’s surprising ability to speak English, the two dogs finagle their way into the classroom, where they learn just how exciting school is, and help Stewart make a friend along the way.

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