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Book Reviews in March 2003 Issue

Note from Editor
Editor's Note
by Olga Stein
About a year ago I met Ken Sherman, well regarded poet and regular contributor to BiC, for a coffee. It was delightful to discover, during our conversation, that we had been taught literature in highschool by the same man. I had attended a different school, more than a decade after Ken had graduated from his, and yet both of us had known Art Spence.
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The Isle of Battle (Book Two of the Swans' War)
by Sean Russell

HarperCollins
467 pages $39.5 cloth
ISBN: 0380974908
Paragon Lost: A Chronicle of the King's Blades
by Dave Duncan

HarperCollins
348 pages $34.95 cloth
ISBN: 0380978962
Book Review
In the Shadow of Two Towers
by Patrick R. Burger
The recent release of the second film of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, reflects the current strength of the fantasy genre and into this favourable context come The Isle of Battle, the second novel in Sean Russell's Swan's War trilogy, and Dave Duncan's Paragon Lost, a novel in his "Tales of the King's Blades" series. These are works by experienced authors in a field overshadowed by the twin titans Tolkien and Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan.
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Down the Coaltown Road
by Sheldon Currie

Key Porter Books
279 pages $24.95 paper
ISBN: 1552634825
Book Review
Transplanted Conflicts
by Heather Birrell
Sheldon Currie's Down the Coaltown Road is a murder mystery whose mystery is rooted less in intrigue of the whodunit variety than in the shocking predictability of ethnic prejudice. Set in a small Cape Breton mining community in the year Mussolini joins forces with Hitler, this novel's sour twist can be traced to its exploration of the manner in which conflict (seemingly at some remove) can be transported and terrifyingly transmuted.
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A Box of Matches
by Nicholson Baker

Random House
178 pages $29.95 cloth
ISBN: 0375502874
Book Review
Mistaking Triteness for Profundity
by Shaun Smith
Imagine a smooth round boulder about four feet across, with one-third of its diameter embedded in the earth. Over this boulder lies a sturdy wooden board, say eight feet long, six inches wide, an inch thick. You now have a children's toy, a see-saw. In geometry this formation is called a tangent, "a straight line touching a curve or curved surface so that it meets it at a point but does not intersect it at that point," as defined by the Canadian Oxford English Dictionary.
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The Conversations Walter Murch and the Art of Film Editing
by Michael Ondaatje

Vintage Canada
339 pages $34.95 paper
ISBN: 0676974740
Book Review
Fashioning Footage¨The Film Editor's Role
by Keith Garebian
When I picked up this marvelously rich book, I tried to recall what I knew about film editing, and came up with obvious examples of the craft: the way Orson Welles indicated the transition of time at the breakfast table in Citizen Kane by the graying hair and faces of Kane and his wife; the synchronization of William Walsh's soundtrack and the flight of arrows at the Battle of Agincourt in Olivier's Henry V; the swift cut from the flare of a match to the vast, mysterious desert in David Lean's
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Discoveries: Early Letters, 1938-1975
by Robertson Davies, Selected and edited by Judith Skelton Grant

McClelland and Stewart
413 pages $37.99 cloth
ISBN: 0771035403
Book Review
Indefatigable Man of Letters
by W. J. Keith
Just before Robertson Davies died in 1995, he had agreed in principle (though one suspects with some reluctance) to the publication of a gathering of his letters. Two volumes were eventually planned, but, because his publishers wanted to take advantage of the international attention and interest sparked by his death, the later letters, more easily annotated and prepared for printing, appeared first, as For Your Eye Alone, in 1999.
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Myself When I Am Real
by Gene Santoro

Oxford University
452 pages $17.95 paper
ISBN: 0195147111
Book Review
Brilliant Innovations
by Paul Neufeld
It's hard to go wrong with a book about Charles Mingus. The simple facts of his life speak volumes about racial politics in the United States. He revolutionised the playing of his chosen instrument, made a lasting legacy of powerful music, and spawned hundreds of legendary tales. He orchestrated his life as a drama of his own making and left no room for tedium. Gene Santoro gets to the heart of the matter in his introduction.
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Who Gets In: What's Wrong with Canada's Immigration Program ű and How to Fix It
by Daniel Stoffman

Macfarlane Walter and Ross
205 pages $34.99 cloth
ISBN: 1551990954
Immigration: The Economic Case
by Diane Francis

Key Porter
192 pages $21.95 paper
ISBN: 1552635325
Book Review
Qualifying Would-be Immigrants
by Martin Loney
Canada receives more than a million immigrants every five years, far more on a per capita basis than any other country. The size and composition of the country's urban centres has been transformed in the last fifteen years with little critical discussion about who gets in or why Canada's immigration targets are so much higher, proportionately, than those of the other principal immigration destinations¨Australia and the United States.
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Canada and the Idea of North
by Sherrill E. Grace

McGill-Queen's University Press
341 pages cloth
ISBN: 0773522476
Book Review
Going to the North Country
by Eric Miller
A childhood acquaintance of mine, staring out the car window for faunal and floral proofs, used to exclaim, "We're in boreal forest now! We're in the boreal forest!" And simply to register this instant of entry was a triumph to him. It meant Olive-sided Flycatchers, not Great Crested; it meant Grey Jays, not Blue; it meant that hemlock ceded ground to the odoriferous Balsam Fir. The more northern, so the idea evidently went, the greater the degree, somehow, of incarnation¨of reality.
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Exile
by Ann Ireland

Dundurn
300 pages $34.99 cloth
ISBN: 1550024000
Book Review
Exiled and Alienated
by Michelle Ariss
"In Latin America, the assassination of journalists continues to be the most serious threat to freedom of expression, with at least nine journalists murdered in 2001 alone. The victims had most often written or spoken out about official crimes and corruption or about the crimes of narcotics entrepreneurs. Few such cases are ever solved, and the official investigations are often thwarted by threats, official corruption and indifference." PEN CANADA - Toronto, December 10, 2002 Richard H.
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Wind and Root
by Brent MacLaine

Signal Editions/Vehicule Press
108 pages $18.27 paper
ISBN: 1550651374
Mining For Sun
by John Reibetanz

Brick Books
112 pages $14 paper
ISBN: 1894078071
Instruments of Surrender
by Christine Wiesenthal

BuschekBooks
85 pages $14.95 paper
ISBN: 1894543076
Book Review
Landscape and Loss
by Geoffrey Cook
Wind and Root is Brent MacLaine's first collection of poetry, and at 59 poems¨including a 16-poem sequence, "Timothy Harbour" ¨it's large. Free verse of medium length lines dominates, though many poems employ regular stanzaic divisions (quatrains and tercets, mostly). MacLaine's title alludes to a basic and conventional tension motivating poetry: the flight and transcendence of the imagination ("wind") versus the commitment to the "local habitation and name" ("root").
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The Love Poems: with Reverence and Delight
by Irving Layton

Mosaic Press
132 pages $20 paper
ISBN: 0889622469
Book Review
From Layton with Love
by Chris Jennings
It happens often enough that there must be some thrill in pronouncing the death of abstract things, of gods, or "the author", or irony. These pronouncements render moving targets static, making it easier to define them when delivering a eulogy; they revel in morbid eloquence rather than identifying signs of necrosis.
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Theater of War
by Lewis Lapham

The New Press/University of Toronto Press
202 pages $22.95 cloth
ISBN: 1565847725
Book Review
A Privileged Vantage Point
by Brian Fawcett
Theater of War is a collection of essays written for Harper's Magazine by its editor Lewis Lapham from the end of the Clinton presidency into the early aftermath of the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Across the essays, Lapham argues that the period reflects an accelerating slide in American political attitudes and government policies from self-interested but functional plutocracy toward theocracy and empire.
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Dogs, Houses, Gardens, Food & Other Addictions
by Sondra Gotlieb

McArthur and Company
275 pages $29.95 cloth
ISBN: 1552783103
Book Review
Arranged in Winnipeg
by Sharon Abron Drache
Disappointing, sums up Sondra Gotlieb's attempt at memoir writing, because almost every chapter reads as a "work-in progress," similar to what she describes as her newly-acquired interest in gardening. Unfortunately, what readers get is a book of lists, highlighting the areas of her life that Sondra chooses and yet refuses to examine in depth.
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Pavilion
by Stephanie Bolster

McClelland & Stewart
72 pages $16.99 paper
ISBN: 0771015585
Book Review
Between One Room and Another
by Jana Prikryl
"Yet Vermeer would seem to be Rembrandt's antithesis, by virtue of his dispassionateness, his serene, limpid techniqueÓ." It's no accident that this generic gloss of Vermeer's style (from Art Treasures of the Louvre, a forgotten 1951 coffee-table book I plucked off the shelf at random) recalls the calm fluidity of Stephanie Bolster's voice. She returns again and again to Vermeer as her subject.
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The Garments of the Known
by Norm Sacuta

Nightwood Editions
96 pages $16.95 paper
ISBN: 088971178x
Hamburger Valley, California
by David McGimpsey

ECW Press
140 pages $15.95 paper
ISBN: 1550224565
Shameless
by Marlene Cookshaw

Brick Books
64 pages $15 paper
ISBN: 1894078217
Book Review
Truths Told Slant
by Robert Moore
Montreal poet David McGimpsey's Hamburger Valley, California is a comic pilgrim's progress through the fallen world of late capitalism's consumer culture. The ersatz heart of darkness toward which these poems tend is the mythical Hamburger Valley, California of the title, arrived at in the book's third section in a series of linked poems.
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The Dark Bride
by Laura Restrepo, Translated by Stephen A. Lytle

HarperFlamingo
358 pages $34.95 cloth
ISBN: 0002005204
Book Review
Columbian Cinderella
by Olga Stein
The Conquistadors came to the land that would become Columbia, conquered, and permanently altered it. Those with dark skins were no longer native peoples but primitives and heathens. The lore of the country also changed, became distorted; stories of the indigenous peoples, the Indians, turned into a mix of the traditional¨collective wisdom, awe and superstition¨and the imported, unreflected prejudice of presumed superiority of race and religion.
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Rory & Ita
by Roddy Doyle

Alfred A. Knopf Canada
238 pages $37.95 cloth
ISBN: 0676975666
Book Review
Seeing Change Through Wry Irish Eyes
by Gerald Lynch
Rory and Ita, Roddy Doyle's septuagenarian parents, are gifted raconteurs: possessed of considerable powers of memory, loquacious, mildly ironic, self-deprecating, humbly proud, patiently charming. They abundantly repaid this reader's attention, and not because as the parents of an important contemporary Irish novelist they give a privileged view of the environment in which their writer-son developed
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Shakey: Neil Young's Biography
by Jimmy McDonough

Random House Canada
786 pages $45 cloth
ISBN: 0679309403
Deep In a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker
by James Gavin

Alfred A. Knopf
430 pages $39.95 cloth
ISBN: 0679442871
Book Review
The Music of Two Lives
by Ian McGillis
Some come to praise, some to bury; some to demystify, some to prop up the myth. What all music biographers share is the knowledge that their readership will be drawn mostly from their subject's fan base, and from the more fanatical end at that. So what's the conscientious Boswell, someone aiming for more than either a puff job or a kneejerk bit of iconoclasm, to do? (For a look at the product of a lack of conscience, consult the works of Albert Goldman.
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The Making of Guys and Dolls
by Keith Garebian

Mosaic Press
153 pages $20 paper
ISBN: 0889627649
Book Review
Studying a Great American Art Form. A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Broadway's Musical Best
by Jeniva Berger
WithThe Making of 'Guys and Dolls', Keith Garebian's fifth book in his Great Broadway Musical series, Garebian demonstrates once again his meticulous research into what may be the last great American art form: the Broadway musical. An anomaly in the U.S. theatrical marketplace, Broadway had always forged ahead as a breeding ground for the new genres of musical comedy
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Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides

Knopf Canada
529 pages $37.95 cloth
ISBN: 067697564X
Book Review
An Unusual Greek American
by Nancy Wigston
Middlesex, by novelist Jeffrey Eugenides (author of The Virgin Suicides), traces that very American saga, the tribulations and triumphs of the immigrant family. Along the way we become intimately familiar with a family of Greeks, survivors of a Turkish massacre, who cross the seas and reinvent themselves in Detroit.
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Arrivals: Stories from the History of Ontario
by John Bentley Mays

Penguin
417 pages $36 cloth
ISBN: 0143013408
Book Review
Discovering Ontario
by Clara Thomas
ARRIVALS' sub-title is well chosen, for this is a book of stories and a story-teller's book as Bentley Mays makes abundantly clear in his first chapter. He is telling stories about "people who have come to Ontario from elsewhere and done something interesting, horrible or wonderful here since the withdrawal of the continental ice sheet, about eleven thousand years ago
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The Vanishing Country
by Mel Hurtig

McClelland & Stewart
433 pages $37 cloth
ISBN: 0771042159
Book Review
The Sell-Off Continues
by Pat Barclay
Wake up, Canada; if Mel Hurtig is right, they're selling our country out from under us! How ironic that the last two lines of our national anthem are: "O Canada, we stand on guard for thee." Because, if ever there were a nation that fell asleep when it should have been on guard duty, it's this one. Superlatively beautiful and richly endowed, Canada has always attracted rapacious eyes from south of the border.
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No Place for a Lady; Tales of Adventurous Women Travellers
by Barbara Hodgson

Greystone Books/Douglas & McIntyre
216 pages $36.95 paper
ISBN: 1550549383
Book Review
Women Travelers in Bygone Days
by Jo-Anne Mary Benson
Today, with the aid of modern technology, travel is a commonplace luxury for many people regardless of gender. For women, especially, this was not always the case as travel was almost the exclusive domain of the adventurer or entrepreneur. Despite this, a great many women went against the norm and distinguished themselves as both travellers and authors
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Africa
by Leni Riefenstahl, edited by Kevin Brownlow

Taschen(Limited Edition)
564 pages $1250 cloth
ISBN: 3822816167
Book Review
Riefenstahl's Africa
by Christopher Ondaatje
Taschen, the German publishers, have published a large and expensive limited edition book (2,500 copies) of the African photographs of Leni Riefenstahl. Each copy is signed by the controversial and legendary film-maker. The publication is bound in blue synthetic leather, costs ˙850, and is a weighty investment but one that will pay rich dividends to anyone interested in Reifenstahl's work, the tribespeople of the Sudan or the art of photography itself.
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The Cave
by JosT Saramago, translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Harcourt
352 pages $40 cloth
ISBN: 0151004145
Book Review
A Cave of Man's Making
by Joan Givner
Jos+ Saramago, the Portuguese writer who won the 1998 Nobel Prize for literature, was born in 1922, but it was in the 1980s that he became a full-time writer, and began the series of novels that established his reputation. He achieved wide recognition for his novel Blindness (translated into English in 1997), the harrowing fable of a community dehumanized by an epidemic of blindness.
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Friend of China¨The Myth of Rewi Alley
by Anne-Marie Brady

Taylor & Francis
224 pages $144.6 cloth
ISBN: 0700714936
Book Review
Messing with Mr. In-Between The Real Rewi Alley Exposed
by Douglas Brown
I experienced a small epiphany¨I won't say revolution¨in historical under- standing while teaching in Beijing the year after the Tiananmen demonstrations and massacre of the annus mirabilis that was 1989. Beijing in 1990 was under de facto martial law, and my oppressed, depressed, and deeply unimpressed students were subjected to omnipresent surveillance and intense 'political education'.
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Interviews
Inspired Poetics. Harold Heft interviews Pier Di Cicco
by Harold Heft
Pier Giorgio Di Cicco's career trajectory is the stuff of CanLit legend. From 1975-86, he published 13 books of poetry¨a blistering pace that prompted one reviewer to ask: "Can [Di Cicco] produce one and sometimes two books a year of 'mature work?'" By the mid-'80s he was a rising star, gracing the cover of Toronto's Now Magazine, dubbed the "father of Italian-Canadian writing." After 1986, though, Di Cicco went silent, disappearing into a monastery and, subsequently, the priesthood.
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Letters to Editor
Letters to the Editor
Dear Editor, I was delighted when Amazon.ca sent BiC with my latest order, and found the magazine a rewarding read, provocative, wide-ranging. Rigelhof on Taylor and Aubin is very strong. Eric Ormsby's poems are a delight and beautifully crafted. But a lot of the paper is not as well-written as I should have hoped, and¨I have to add¨short on strong content-editing.
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Essays
Notes on Morality
by Alfred Stein
These notes were composed in the spring of 1995 by Alfred Stein (1930-1995). They were written in long hand, and were almost entirely unedited at the time of his passing way. It doesn't appear that they had been intended for publication. The aphoristic style was chosen for economy's sake. Beside the various entries, labels were attached to indicate priority for some future organization. We are publishing them as they were written.
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Essays
Introducing Irving Layton's Last Poem
by Donald Winkler
I found this in Box 31 of the Layton collection at Concordia University in Montreal. A clutch of pages stapled together; multiple drafts of a poem Irving Layton began, but never completed, towards the end of his writing. An invocation to the muse who was abandoning him. Twenty-five lines on lined paper, in the cramped handwriting of his old age, both neat, and, paradoxically, difficult to decipher. It was dated, with a question mark, early in 1989.
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Prose/Poetry
The Book of Canadian Poetry
by David Solway
Matsuo Basho wrote in a haibun journal, The Records of a Travel-Worn Satchel: "It is easy enough to say, for example, that such and such a day was rainy in the morning but fine in the afternoon, that there was a pine tree at such and such a place, or that the name of the river at a certain place was such and such, for these things are what everybody says in their diaries, although in fact they are not even worth mentioning unless there are fresh and arresting elements in them" (italics mine)
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Up Front
Amazon.ca/Books in Canada Bestsellers Lists
* Stats based on period from January 6 to February 11 Top 50 Bestselling Fiction 1 J.K.
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The Truth About Death and Dying
by Rui Umezawa

Doubleday
291 pages $32.95 paper
ISBN: 0385659083
Several Women Dancing
by Paul Dutton

Mercury Press
204 pages $17.95 paper
ISBN: 1551280965
Acting the Giddy Goat
by Mike Tanner

Cormorant Books
387 pages $22.95 paper
ISBN: 1896951392
First Novels
First Novels
by W.P. Kinsella
Acting the Giddy Goat by Mike Tanner (Cormorant Books, $22.95, 387pages, ISBN: 1896951392). There are some wonderful moments in this very Toronto novel. (1) a pompous PhD. in Philosophy who thinks he is God's gift to the university system, can't get a college job and is reduced to teaching kindergarten where he finds out that five-year-olds have no concept of logic, and he has to resort to an air horn to keep them in line.
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NightMusic
by Harrison Gradwell Slater

Harcourt
559 pages $42.95 cloth
ISBN: 015100580X
Brief Reviews
Brief Reviews
by Maurice Mierau
Harrison Gradwell Slater is an American with a doctorate in musicology and a career as a concert pianist. He is also the author of a respected reference book about Mozart's travels. His shiny resumT exactly duplicates Dr. Matthew Pierce's, the first-person narrator/hero of Slater's debut mystery novel NightMusic. In the novel, Pierce is a neglected music scholar and pianist who lucks into a document that could be a valuable and previously undiscovered Mozart diary.
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Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence
by Paul Feig

Three Rivers Press
278 pages $19.95 paper
ISBN: 0609809431
Brief Reviews
Brief Reviews
by Ryan Bigge
A few chapters into Kick Me, Paul Feig refers to the song "Number Three" by They Might Be Giants. Feig's brief, eight-verse flirtation with poetic inspiration in Third Grade reminds him of the lyrics "There's only two songs in me / and I just wrote the third." It would be cruel and inaccurate to suggest that Feig has only two essays in him, but it is fair to say that this memoir of his childhood bleeds filler like a cheap plush toy.
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The Great Gift of Tears
by Edited by Heather Hodgson

Coteau Books
201 pages $16.95 paper
ISBN: 1550501925
Brief Reviews
Brief Reviews
by Keith Garebian
As Heather Hodgson indicates in her Introduction, this First Nations anthology of four plays is obviously a teaching tool primarily for students of First Nations or Metis ancestry. The plays "have been read and discussed in manuscript form by students of English at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College.
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Children's Books
Children's Books
by Deirdre Baker
Talking about Excellence Children's book reviewer Deirdre Baker is passionate about children's books. She talked about what she believes constitutes excellence in children's literature during a panel discussion that took place at the monthly meeting of the Canadian Association of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers (CANSCAIP) on November 13, 2002.
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An Earthly Knight
by Janet McNaughton

HarperCollins Canada
253 pages $15.99 trade paperback
ISBN: 0006391885
Children's Books
Children's Books
by Karen Krossing
How many of us do what we should do, rather than what we want to do? This struggle between duty and desire is the theme of a new book from acclaimed writer Janet McNaughton. After the futuristic novel, The Secret Under My Skin, which earned McNaughton the Ruth Schwartz Award, a Mr
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Feed
by M.T. Anderson

Candlewick Press
240 pages $22.99 cloth
ISBN: 0763617261
Children's Books
Children's Books
by Jeffrey Canton
Imagine a world where a computer implant sends endless banner ads streaming directly into your head along with the very latest pop songs, fashion tips, news stories, television programs of every kind and snippets of the most trivial and utterly meaningless information and chat with your friends through mind links
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Crispin: The Cross of Lead
by Avi

Hyperion Books
262 pages $22.99 paper
ISBN: 0786808284
Children's Books
Children's Books
by Jeffrey Canton
Winner of the American Library Association's prestigious Newbury Award for 2003, Avi's Crispin is a gripping tale of adventure set during the Middle Ages. Following the death of his mother, thirteen-year-old Crispin, called Asta's Son for most of his life, finds his world turned totally upside-down.
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Stinky (The Kids From Monkey Mountain series)
by Ted Staunton

Red Deer Press
64 pages $6.95 paper
ISBN: 0889952639
The Trouble With Girls (The Kids From Monkey Mountain series)
by Ted Staunton

Red Deer Press
72 pages $6.95 paper
ISBN: 0889952647
Children's Books
Children's Books
by Hannah Lee
These books, from award-winning children's writer, Ted Staunton are a welcome addition to literature for children just entering adolescence or those precocious youngsters curious about what's in store for them. Both books successfully deal with a host of subtle changes¨growing awareness of one's appearance, new dynamics between friends and other girls and boys, developing anxiety with regard to school work, and evolving parental expectations.
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Children's Books
Children's Books
by Jeffrey Canton
2003 is set to be an exciting year for Canadian children's literature. As part of the 50th anniversary of the National Library of Canada, the Children's Literature Division is hosting an international forum.
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