Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Open Book’s Holiday Book Guide 2011: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

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Holiday Book Guide 2011

Happy Holidays from Open Book! Our second annual Holiday Book Guide will direct you to some of the most engaging books on store shelves this season. Open Book's Guide will be regularly updated throughout December, featuring a fresh theme with each listing.



For all the nature enthusiasts and camping buffs on your shopping list, Donald J. Beauprie’s Destination Algonquin Park: Tracks to Cache Lake and the Highland Inn (General Store Publishing House) will make the perfect gift. Beauprie relates the history of a once-thriving part of the Provincial Park, where people lived and vacationed in elegant inns and cottages, that was accessible only by railway.

Stephanie Bolster’s latest poetry collection, A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth (Brick Books), is a riveting read. Bolster writes about the natural world contained into institutions, represented by monuments, turned into art. A smart and captivating collection that you will want to share with fellow poetry-lovers. A sample: “Under glass: a field, soaring elms,/ the gathered best, prey predator,/ Victoria and Albert/ together here and in the name/ of the museum that would house the objects/ afterward” (from “Crystal Palace”).

“Plants and flowers aren’t simply pretty things to look at,” writes master gardener Sonia Day in her introduction to her book The Untamed Garden: A Revealing Look at Our Love Affair with Plants (McClelland & Stewart), “they have the ability to arouse our senses. They can be incredibly exciting — and erotic.” Filled with gorgeous images of swelling buds and phallic stalks (prepare to blush), The Untamed Garden discusses myths, history, botany and plant lore and shows us just how erotic and seductive plants are. The perfect gift book for the plant lover (or just the lover) in your life.

Horse of a Lifetime: Canadians Reveal Their History and Depth as Horse People (General Store Publishing House) by Dr. Helen Douglas explores the unique bond between horses and the people who care for them. The book tells the stories of 60 relationships between Canadian horses owners and their horses. It is touchingly dedicated to Police Mount Brigadier, a police horse who was killed while on duty. Illustrated with lovely full-colour photograph, Horse of a Lifetime would make a handsome gift for the equestrian on your list.

Frozen Planet: A World Beyond Imagination (Firefly Books) by Alastair Fothergill and Vanessa Berlowitz is a companion volume to the much-anticipated third show in the BBC’s Earth series. The breathtaking photographs in this book are shot by some of the world’s best wildlife photographers, who travelled by submarine, helicopter, icebreaker and snowmobile to capture the images. Frozen Planet follows the polar bear, the arctic fox, the Adelie penguin and the wandering albatross. Those who enjoyed the first two shows in the Emmy Award-winning series, Blue Planet: Seas of Life and Planet Earth: As You've Never Seen It Before, will be captivated by this book — as will anyone be who is interested our planet and its future.

A beautiful book about the world’s second most consumed drink, Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties (Firefly Books) by Kevin Gascoyne, François Marchand, Jasmin Desharnais and Hugo Americi, is filled with photos, interviews, instructions, recipes, a guide to “The Chemical Components of Tea” and more. This comprehensive guide to Camellia sinensis is sure to please anyone who enjoys relaxing with a hot cup of tea.

Rich in captivating metaphors, Sue Goyette's latest collection of poetry, outskirts (Brick Books), should be on every reading list. John Steffler writes, "Goyette peels back the surface of the familiar human world to reveal the forest-world mysteries, the shape shifting, the glories and agonies truly at play there."

Animal Babies (OwlKids) is a fun and informative book filled with interesting information about the stages in the lives of baby animals. The illustrations are lovely and kids will enjoy feeling textures, lifting flaps to watch an egg turn into a butterfly, pulling a tab to make a cloud of ink squirt from an octopus. The book teaches kids about various animals' mating, eating, cleaning and playing habits. Animal Babies is written by Pascale Hédelin and beautifully illustrated by Stéphanie Herrbach.

No Shelter Here: Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs (Pajama Press) by animal advocate and chartered biologist Rob Laidlaw is the perfect gift for any young dog lover and animal advocate in training. Laidlaw explores humankind’s relationship with our furry companions, while teaching kids about the mistreatment and neglect dogs suffer around the world. The best part of this book is the focus on amazing kids — he calls them “dog champions” — who are working to help the dogs in need.

The title of Sasenarine Persaud’s latest collection of poetry, lantana strangling ixora (TSAR Publications), stems from the flower lantana, a hearty creeper of South American origin that engulfs other plants, and the ixora, a plant of Asian origin. The plants serve as a metaphor for the “the consciousness of the Americas overcoming that of India in the Americas.” Read the title poem and you’ll be drawn into the whole collection, which explores a variety of subjects, including family, literature, politics, geography and race.

Jenny Sampirisi's debut collection, Croak (Coach House Books), is a wild and untameable animal, constantly twisting and contorting amidst the unstable metamorphosis that is love and loss. Sampirisi cleverly uses the analogy of the frog throughout these poems, which, as she told us in our On Writing interview with her this past fall, are at their core about love, relationships and compromise. Rather ironically, Croak is as uncompromising with being boxed into either the poetry or prose construct as anything written by Beckett, which is the name most often dropped when discussing this book. Now that's some fairly high praise! Exciting stuff. 

Join two adorable, sneaky and clever rodents on their quest to fill their stomachs with delicious food in Roslyn Schwartz’s suspenseful and delightfully illustrated picture book, The Vole Brothers (OwlKids). In their travels, the Vole Brothers encounter many other hungry creatures, including ants, birds and a great big cat. Schwartz is also the creator of the popular series, The Mole Sisters.

Gems and Minerals: Earth Treasures from the Royal Ontario Museum (Firefly Books) by Kimberley Tate is a sumptuous book filled with exquisite photos of gems and minerals from the Royal Ontario Museum. Tait provides the historical background for each mineral, the origin of the mineral’s name and many other details. The perfect gift for your favourite rockhound.


Buy these books at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

The Holiday Book Guide is written by Kate Burgess, Michael Doyle and Clelia Scala

Are you a high school student who loves to write? Check out Write Across Ontario, a creative writing contest for Ontario high school students from IFOA Ontario and Open Book: Ontario. You can find the full details at

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