Felicity and the Featherless Two-Foot by Loralee Evans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Having previously read about “Felicity the Sparrow” I was curious to see what new adventure she was about to encounter in this book, always bearing in mind the interests of my grandchildren. It was pleasing to find the inclusion of several illustrations throughout the second story, which I found to be artistically charming regarding the depiction of the living creatures and fairies. For me, though, the buildings and backdrop scenery appeared to be a little too mathematically graphic, requiring some artistry to modify the “perfect” straight lines etc. It’s probably just me because I doubt the kids would notice.
Now to the story: I thought it was charming throughout, with humour aimed at adults and children, elements of pathos in bearable amounts for little ones and two major characters, in Felicity and Cairn, that one grows to love and care about right to the end of the tale. This story was full of imaginative ideas and situations for Felicity to cope with, like using a word processor and reluctantly accepting help from, the inevitably cheeky sparrow chum, Cairn. The delightful innocence of two sparrows, one who is literate and the other with a penchant for maths, comes through wonderfully – particularly when they are trying to communicate with a human being, one Mr Yellow Horse! I have no doubt that my grandchildren will love this story as much as the many more youngsters still to discover Loralee Evans’ book. We are even treated to some fairy magic near the end.
A criticism in practical terms would be to set the first line, at the start of each chapter, on the same level as the initial, very large, capital letter. I understand that it may be intended to add a different “interesting” bit of style but it could easily confuse struggling early readers in my opinion as an ex-teacher. The kindle version should have a digitally workable table of contents to improve the professional (expected) touch seen in most ebooks.
I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest and objective review.
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A recent find was this set of fantastic pictures taken by Wendy Coops. My immediate thought was how well they illustrated the many examples of the natural world we have - even in the UK! It is so important for the present and future generations that we take good care of the environment and the wildlife within it. Our species is so efficient in taking over the habitat of all other species, whether of the sea, land or air, that we are in serious danger of leaving nothing that doesn't need "managing"!
Here's the Link to Wendy's pics.
We have one of those "cat scarers" in the garden that work by emitting a high pitched sound when there is a movement within the range of the device. In theory I believe the frequency that is emitted is uncomfortable specifically to cats only. But we noticed that since the start of the year we have not seen either foxes or hedgehogs in our garden, whereas last year we observed both animals. On several occasions we saw a fox and a hedgehog feeding together from the same bowl! And in the Spring of 2014 we had as many as 4 hedgehogs feeding on the patio at night time.
When we saw a pile of feathers earlier this year and two or three cats skulking under shrubs and a hedge I realised that I needed to replace the battery in the cat scarer to protect the many varieties of birds visiting. However, since the high pitched frequency has not been operating we have seen both fox and hedgehog again, for 3 days in a row! So I'm wondering whether the cat scarer has been scaring both foxes and hedgehogs as well as cats? Do I replace the battery to protect the birds or forget it and allow the hedgehogs and fox to return?
Below the Water Line: Getting Out, Going Back, and Moving Forward in the Decade After Hurricane Katrina by Lisa Karlin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Like most others living in the UK I remembered that the southern states of the USA had suffered the devastating effects of three hurricanes “some time ago” and, also like most people, I remarked that I was surprised to hear on the radio that it was as long as ten years ago. When I started reading Lisa Karlin’s amazing account of how it had affected her and her family I noticed that the date was rather spookily the same as in the title of her first chapter: “Just an Ordinary Day”, August 27! It gave me cause to remember the date Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Monday August 29 2005, which the author describes as Day 2 of her account. And so it began and Lisa Karlin continues her narrative in a carefully considered and colourful way, sometimes humorous, often ironical, but on the whole never judgemental despite the many disappointment and tragedies her family experience and witness. The early very sobering privations that Lisa and her family suffer are well illustrated by their visits to motels and garage rest-rooms/toilets.
Neither Lisa nor her surgeon husband, Rich, could be considered to be poor and down-at-heel, as they seem to have sufficient wealth and capital resources to withstand some of the very expensive events and incidents that befall them and their two kids – not forgetting their two dogs. It was also gratifying to see how their friends and family offered help and support to them over and over again. But what struck me was how Lisa often demonstrated her deep understanding of the misery that others, much less fortunate than her, would be suffering by helping them with offers of money or practical support. And it was most heartening to read how she did this without any hint of a “lady bountiful” attitude, often helping to cover any sense of the recipient’s embarrassment by a forgiven and gentle “white lie”. An incident in a supermarket, when Lisa buys some items and deposits them in another, obviously more needy, mother’s shopping trolley illustrated this well. The author scatters plenty of humorous incidents throughout her account and often raised more than a smile for this reader. For example there was the time she had a problem with the heated driver’s seat of her Chevy car, that one day resulted in the author attending her daughter’s soccer practice with “Northern Bath Tissue”, from a protective piece of cardboard, imprinted on the seat of her trousers! The various anecdotes about their dogs, particularly the “Jack Russell Terror”, were hilarious but perhaps not to the family at the time.
The book is very well written and has some of the pace and characterisation that one would look for in a gripping novel. Karlin is to be congratulated on this and I hope that she is able, one day, to devote her literary skills to produce works of fiction. Despite the many unfortunate and distressing events Lisa Karlin still manages to look for a happy ending and a positive outcome where ever possible. I found the whole book most illuminating in many ways: in the frightening power of, and damage caused through, hurricanes and in the relentless never-say-die attitude of the human spirit when it looks as though all may be lost. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading about the stark day-by-day realities to be found in accounts of human frailty, inner strength, generosity and political ineptitude that can result from such disastrous and tragic phenomena.
I received a free copy of Below the Water Line in return for my honest and non-reciprocal review.
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