I love NatGeoKids! They have everything a kid (even a big one like me) loves! Around this time of year, many people all over the world are preparing to celebrate Easter.
Nat Geo Kids shows readers, in gorgeous full-color photos how other people celebrate Easter. While reading the book, young readers will discover that in New Orleans people celebrate Mardi Gras, and in England there are pancake races, in Cuba there are carnivals with stilt walkers!
The book contains photos of people attending church in Peru and Russia. In Germany, there is an Easter Eve bonfire, and all across America there are Easter egg hunts. Celebrate Easter is a good addition to your library not only because of the photos, there are recipes (yummy food), songs, and maps in the back.
I remember when I was a kid I had to get dressed up in a new dress and go to church. The book even explains that old tradition. What traditions do you have for Easter?
“Maggie Murphy stood alone and unnoticed on the doorstep of the thatched stone cottage that three generations of her family had called home.” We learn very early on that Maggie is sailing to America on RMS Titanic from Ireland. Poor Maggie is forced to leave her homeland and her beloved Seamus on the ship destined to sink! But before we go any further, let’s chat with Hazel Gaynor, the author a bit and see what’s inside her brain.
UNCONVENTIONAL LIBRARIAN: Like many women, I love all things Titanic related! I thought it would be fun to torture ask you questions and pick eat your brain. Thank you for subjecting yourself to us today. Let’s get started. Do you drink coffee?
HAZEL GAYNOR: Yes! Too much!
UL: Is there really such a thing as too much coffee? Do you like donuts or cookies? Do you dunk?
HG: I like both, although you have to be quick to get your hands on either in my house – my husband and two children all have a very sweet tooth. I have to admit that I have never dunked a donut – I must rectify this as soon as possible!
UL: OMG for sure! We can’t be besties if you’ve never dunked! Noshing while drinking coffee and reading are my most favorite activities. Speaking of books, how did your book get started?
HG: I was a teenager when the wreck of Titanic was discovered by Robert Ballard in 1985 and have been fascinated with the ship and the events of April, 1912, ever since. I have said many times in the years since then that I would write a novel about Titanic one day – it just took a little time! When I started my research for the novel, I came across the record of a survivor from a small parish in County Mayo, Ireland. From there, I discovered the history of a group of Irish emigrants – now known locally as the Addergoole Fourteen – who travelled together on Titanic. I knew immediately that I’d found the inspiration for my novel. I wanted to explore the experience of a third class passenger on Titanic, the aftermath of the disaster and how such an event can have far-reaching repercussions on a survivor’s life. Through my character, Maggie, I hope to allow readers to immerse themselves in an aspect of the Titanic disaster they might not have previously considered.
UL: What else have you written?
HG: Can we ignore my first attempt at writing a novel, which is now hidden under my bed? Good! Apart from that, I wrote a successful parenting blog for several years before seriously starting to write novels. In addition to my debut, THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, my second novel, DAUGHTERS OF THE FLOWERS, is scheduled for publication in early 2015. It is about two sets of sisters and is set around a charity for orphaned flower sellers in Victorian London. The story spans several decades across the late 1800s and early 1900s. I love the era and the atmosphere of street life in late Victorian London and it was a wonderfully haunting period to explore. I am very excited about the book’s publication early next year.
UL: I love the idea of your next book. If you could have any superpower what would it be?
HG: I would love to have the power to tidy my desk in an instant. It is currently possessed by an evil being known as DISORGANISATION GIRL.
UL: Ooooooo Disorganization Girl, I know her! She possesses my house too. She needs to go away! What makes you happy?
HG: My children. Satisfied readers. And writing THE END.
UL: yes, Yes, and YES. Although sometimes it’s difficult to say goodbye to a good book. Wrapping up now, anything else you want to tell us?
HG: I could tell you about the time I was so immersed in my writing that I forget to collect my son from school, but let’s just keep quiet about that for now. (the apology ice cream more than made up for it, by the way!)
UL: Oh no! Thank goodness for apology ice cream!
Did you know that Hazel has a Pinterest board? Yes, it’s full of FABULOUS images that are inspired by The Girl Who Came Home. Here’s the link: Check it out, it’s really interesting to see real images from the Titanic. It’s also very inspiring to see the faces of those who survived.
Because I hate spoilers, I’m not gonna tell ya what happens. You’ll hafta get it for yourself. Don’t be an eejit. Get the book. Read it. Love it.
So here we come to the final installment of the Passing Bells trilogy, with A Future Arrived.
I’m sad to see the series end. To be sure, I have mixed feelings about the trilogy. Touted as a companion to Downton Abbey, it’s almost completely different from Downton Abbey in that there is less about the lives of the servants downstairs and more about the lives of the beautiful and rich upstairs. But that alone, is not a reason to discount the trilogy. If you yearn for the recent historical past, you’ll love this series too.
I love a writer who can keep up with all of the character’s lives, introduce new characters and not get too convoluted in the telling and merging of their stories. I believe Rock has done this well. Now, in book three, I am reminded of why I liked or hated the characters from book 1, but am still able to enjoy the lives of the newer characters as they struggle with the similar problems of war. The grandson of Lord Greville is now a main character, as well as the young brother in law of our favorite reporter, American cousin Martin Rilke. The Grevilles have stopped yearning for the Edwardian days and have accepted the future and the mixing of social classes. Not that they really had a choice.
During the course of the series I’ve learned the ins and outs that led up to World War I. I feel as if I’ve become an expert. I also feel like I was experiencing life in the trenches and on the streets of London. Post WWI I feel as if I was taking a slight vacation and allowed to have a little fun and relax. I was also aware that WWII would come and I wasn’t sure how Rock would introduce our characters to it. Rock did not disappoint, he provided a thorough look at how life can be ruined by war. Interestingly enough, given that I learned about war was from the American viewpoint, I feel as if I have a broader understanding of how ugly and devastating war is.
If you don’t like war stories or need a bit more of an emotional setting, this is not the book for you, but if you want to develop relationships with characters, this trilogy will satisfy you just fine.