Book Talks: Who By Fire, I Saw a Man, In the Unlikely Event, and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Sten_9780385668798_jkt_all_r3.inddWho by Fire by Fred Stenson

In the novel Who By Fire by Fred Stenson, it’s 1960 and ground has been broken for a sour gas processing plant in southern Alberta. The plant malfunctions with immediate impact on the farmers living nearby. The escaping gas is not just sickening; it has the power to kill. Fences and farm equipment corrode; animals die. When the farmers complain to government, they find they are not believed. The Ryder family farm is less than a kilometer downwind of the plant. On bad days, toxic hydrogen sulphide rolls down the slope to their home. As a farmer and father, Tom Ryder steadily loses faith in himself and his ability to protect his family. He wants to battle the company even as he worries that the value he and his wife Ella have built in their lifetime will be lost. At worst, both Tom and Ella fear their children could die. With unflinching truthfulness and precise detail, Fred Stenson portrays the crunching impacts between people and industry, of lives left twisting in the winds of change. Who By Fire is one of ten titles nominated for the 2015 Evergreen™ Award, read one or all and vote for your favorite in the fall at your branch of the Haliburton County Public Library.

I saw a manI Saw a Man by Owen Sheers

The event that changed all of their lives happened on a Saturday afternoon in June, just minutes after Michael Turner – thinking the Nelsons’ house was empty – stepped through their back door.

In I Saw a Man by Owen Sheers, Michael Turner is a best-selling author and newlywed, ready to settle down with his war reporter wife Caroline in Wales when she is killed by a drone strike while on assignment near the Pakistan border. Grief stricken, Michael moves to London and rapidly befriends his neighbours, Josh and Samantha Nelson and their young children, only to careen into a catastrophic event that leaves him holding the burden of grief and a secret that he must keep. Sheers works back from and toward the event, exploring vioence, guilt and attempted redemption in the connections between the Nelsons, Michael, and the drone pilot.

I Saw a Man by Owen Sheers is a literary novel written with the pace of a thriller. It is available to reserve at the Haliburton County Public Library.

in the unlikely eventIn the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

In her highly anticipated novel, In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume creates a richly textured and moving story of three generations of families, friends and strangers, whose lives are profoundly changed by unexpected events. In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life. Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen, and in love for the first time, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events that Blume experienced in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, she paints a vivid portrait of a particular time and place—Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable,” Elizabeth Taylor haircuts, young (and not-so-young) love, explosive friendships, rumors of Communist threat and a young journalist who makes his name reporting tragedy. Through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on. You can request In the Unlikely Event in large print or regular print through the Haliburton County Public Library.

mrs frisby and the rats of nimhMrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

Mrs. Frisby is a mouse, a widow with four children since her husband Jonathan was killed by Farmer Fitzgibbon’s cat, Dragon. When her son Timothy falls ill right before ploughing season, Mrs. Frisby must find a way to move their home out of harm’s way. She enlists the help of a secretive and resourceful clan of rats who have escaped from a nearby laboratory, led by the wise Nicodemus, along with a jovial crow named Jeremy and an elderly apothecary named Mr. Ages. As the rats of NIMH race to move Mrs. Frisby’s home before Mr. Fitzgibbon’s plough starts up, their efforts are threatened by a renegade rat named Jenner, the townspeople bent on exterminating Nicodemus and his colony, and Dragon himself. But Mrs. Frisby will do anything to save her family from catastrophe – even putting herself in danger.

Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH was written in 1971 by Robert C. O’Brien, and won the 1972 Newbery Medal for children’s literature. Nearly forty-five years later it remains a patron favourite. It is available to reserve at the Haliburton County Public Library.

*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM, June 2015.


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