Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Log Driver's Waltz

I was so excited when I saw they had made a picture book version of the Log Driver's Waltz. I grew up listening to the playful, whimsical song from the 1979 original short film, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book.

The story is about a young girl whose parents want her to marry someone respectable and well-to-do - a doctor, a merchant, or a lawyer - but she is in love with a log driver, who woos her with his talent for dancing - a talent he has developed driving logs. It is a charming, lighthearted story that brings history to life.

Jennifer Phelen has outdone herself with the illustrations. Her style combines elements of the 1920's - both city and country - and the 1970's, when the original film was created, and the pictures perfectly match the style of the song. There are some precious details that add an extra sweetness to the story, like the log driver checking his reflection in a waterfall before the dance. While this picture book would be delightful for any child, it would make a great addition to a classroom, or to complement a children's study of Canadian history.

-Aliah-

For more information on "The Log Driver's Waltz" by Wade Hemsworth, visit us in store or visit our website here.

To listen to the song (and sing along with the book if you have it!) follow this link:
  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upsZZ2s3xv8
 

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Maid


   Stephanie Land almost broke my tear ducts with her memoir. Maid is a crucial, desperate, important installment in showing that people in poverty are some of the hardest working, least appreciated, most disadvantaged people in our society. The next time I hear someone say people in poverty are lazy, I hope I can recommend this book to them.

   Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive

   Stephanie Land is a single mother struggling to escape domestic abuse, to keep custody of the child her partner never wanted but fights her for at every turn, and to provide enough for her daughter so they can at least survive. She narrates a messy, belittling, dehumanizing journey of food stamps that never provide enough food, homeless shelters that can't offer proper shelter, and low-income housing that could be ripped away at the merest threat of a $50 emergency.

   "Struggling to make ends meet" is probably the most passive, deplorable, understatement one could apply to this woman's life. Throughout the memoir, Land takes painstaking creative steps to illustrate the sheer reality: she's not making ends meet at all. She rations her coffee in the morning to quell her hunger so that her daughter can have more to eat. She can't afford produce unless it's below a certain price-point, but the middle-class shoppers at the grocery store vocally harass her for buying less nutritious food - the only food that she can afford - and for making them wait longer because of her food stamps. The amount of times other shoppers shout "You're welcome!" at her because she's using food stamps from the government, funded by taxpayer money, is atrocious. 

   At one point, Land and her daughter are using eight different government programs at once, just to survive. The way that the various government programs operate, qualifying for one may disqualify her for another. If she makes slightly more money from her multiple part-time (minimum-wage) jobs, that extra pocket change could tip her over the edge and disqualify her for another program or two, leaving her scrambling again the next month. The system is built in such a way that it beats her down and keeps her there, and I don't know where she finds the will to beat it back, but she does, in a white-knuckled, teeth-gritted kind of way

   Maid is a stepping stone to addressing and erasing the stigma around people in poverty; to establishing the compassion and empathy we need to work towards a better world. I'd recommend it to anyone, but especially to the middle-class and the rich - the more financially privileged people in society.

--Elise T.--

   For more information on Maid by Stephanie Land, visit our website here.