Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What's Making Me Happy This Month - October

What's making me happy this month?


It's October, and as Anne says, " I'm so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers."

My morning walks never fail to stop me dead in my tracks at the stunning beauty that is set before me. Year after year. I am in awe at this rhapsody of colour. Happy is an understatement. 

Speed Book Dating is also making me happy this month. A little bit of fun I have with my Intermediate students. It makes me happy to see them meeting new books, new authors. 

We have been having some wonderful fun in the Library this month with nonfiction picture books. This is definitely making me very happy. 

A half hour sitcom, once a week, to make me laugh: The Grinder, on Fox. I knew I would like Rob Lowe, but didn't suspect that Fred Savage would be so funny.

A new-to-me podcast is making my drive to school a lot quicker these days: Missing Maura Murray.  If you were a fan of Serial, and are waiting for something to fill the void before Season 2, I recommend this one.

After a summer hiatus, Book Club is back on. I look so forward to reading and discussing big people books with this fun group of ladies. I just finished Lisa Genova's Inside the O'Briens. The Huntington's was a little frightening, but I loved the characters in the novel.

As October draws to a close, I have found lots to be happy about in this beautiful month. How about you? What's making you happy this month?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Stay Strong: A Musician's Journey from Congo

There couldn't be a more relevant time to read Stay Strong: A Musician's Journey from Congo, with refugee issues taking the front stage each day in the news. And this is exactly what occurred to me when I was asked by the publisher to read and review Natalie Hyde's latest book.

Debuting under Clockwise Press' new nonfiction Arrivals* series, Stay Strong tells a story that we all need to hear.

Growing up, Gentil Misigaro only knew the world as a place of loss, fear, and death. For fifteen years he and his family moved from country to country to escape the violence, but it followed them from their village in Congo to Rwanda and then to Uganda. Through it all Gentil found strength and hope in music. When his family got the news that they had finally found a new home in Canada, Gentil saw his music as a powerful force that could bring positive change to his new homeland and to the world. (from the publisher)

Natalie Hyde does an excellent job of detailing the terror that was experienced and witnessed by Gentil and his family without resorting to graphic descriptions. The reader is consumed by the extreme fear that ruled the lives of the Misigaros for over 15 years.  They were "never free from fear".  I was struck by the passage of time - life continued despite the lack of a permanent home or the continuation of violence and uncertainty. And yet, remarkably, Gentil continued to have hope. I'm not sure I could have done the same.

Upon learning that they had been accepted as refugees to Canada, Gentil "felt as though they had won the lottery".  But his story does not end there. The theme of music, which is woven throughout Stay Strong, helps Gentil adapt to his strange new home, and then to become a valuable contributor to his community.

Stay Strong is an enlightening read. It is an uplifting read. And it is an important read. Young people should be challenged by this book to be grateful for the peace and security that most have been afforded, and to search for a way that we can all make our world a better place to live.

Stay Strong: a Musician's Journey from Congo by Natalie Hyde. Clockwise Press, 2015.
ISBN: 9780993935121
Ages 12+
Set in dyslexia-friendly font. Includes Timeline, Resources, How Kids Can Help

*Arrivals is a narrative non-fiction series featuring the life stories of inspiring immigrants and refugees from all over the world who have come to Canada to find a better life. In return they have made valuable contributions to their new home and have been positive influences in their communities.

I would like to thank Solange from Clockwise Press for the copy of Stay Strong that she provided to me in return for an honest review. This copy will find a new home in my school library where it will be shared with young Canadians who I'm sure will be interested in hearing Gentil's story.