Friday, July 25, 2014

The Town that Drowned | Riel Nason

This is a great story, well crafted, with strong characters. A young teenager Ruby Carson falls through the ice while skating, and as she plummets she sees a vision of her town submerged in a lake, and a few of the town's people float past her.  Ruby is not one of the popular kids, and is teased because of this vision, which she blurted out as she was being rescued.

We feel tension mount as Ruby struggles to find meaning in her vision, and as she tries to come to terms with being a teenager in a very small community.
As weeks go by, stakes are found in the ground, mysterious people show up measuring and marking things around the town. It transpires that a dam is going to be built upstream and they will all lose their homes and the town itself, as it will be submerged. People start dying, the same people Ruby saw in the vision.

The story is well worth reading, as Ruby and her younger brother are beautifully drawn, as are the many odd people who live in this community.

The Boy who harnessed the wind | William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

Now here is an inspiring story. A young boy called William (born 1987), living in Malawi saw first hand the devastating effects of the famines that hit during his childhood. He was too poor to go to school so he read the books in the town's library. A series of science and engineering books had been donated from America. He studied there and learned about windmills, something he had never seen in Malawi.
He decided to build a windmill  by his house so his family could have electricity and power a water-pump so that in the future their crops would not fail. The villagers around him thought he was crazy or practising witchcraft, opposing at every turn. But this is why this story is inspiring above all else. William had a dream, he worked towards it undeterred by his circumstances or by the negative response of his community. He knew he could do it, so he did.
There were no 'proper' parts for him to build it with, so he scavenged around, looking for metal parts, bulbs, wiring etc in the local dump and old cars left out to rust. He made his components out of junk left lying about the village. I would love children to read this book and be inspired by what William achieved. His family was the first to have electricity, he figured out a way to make a plug so all those in the village could charge their cellphones.

Through a passing reporter's interest William became famous in Africa, attended the TED conference and has now travelled around the world inspiring other children to work on innovation enterprise.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

You're still hot to me | Jean Kittson

If you are over 40, regardless of gender, you should read this book!

Kittson was interviewed on Radio New Zealand National, and after hearing her I got her book. It is an easy, informative and very funny book, about ....menopause. Don't discard this review yet, keep reading.

When Kittson started looking into menopause, there was little information available and it was either totally frivolous or so convoluted, it meant nothing. She also found not many women or men were talking about this period (or lack thereof) in a woman's life.

This is NOT a 'poor me' book, it is a candid look at what women go through at a time in their lives when they are busy, effective and are integral to the lives of their families and work places. From one day to the next, they have physical and psychological symptoms which destabilise and impede their performance in many areas. So, let's get informed.
Read this for yourself and your partner, for all the women in your life. They are NOT going insane, their hormones are changing, they are going to be ok, eventually. Be the support crew, drink a glass of wine together and eat more chocolate....Read this book!