An impressive and enjoyable collection.



The first full-color photographic encyclopedia of heritage silver spoons spanning the breadth of Canada.

The seed for this book was planted in 1967 when Refaussé purchased a few silver spoons in Calgary on her way to attend Expo 67 in Montreal. Over the next 30-plus years, she and her husband amassed a collection of spoons from all across their vast country. Organized geographically, the book opens with spoons of the Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island on the country’s eastern coast and then gradually moves west, ending in British Columbia on Canada’s Pacific shore. The provinces and territories are all represented by sections, as is the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor, an urbanized region in the province of Alberta. The photographs clearly display the intricate detailing of the spoons’ handles, as well as engraved names and scenes in the spoons’ bowls. (The author provides small, offset photos in cases where this detailing is overshadowed or unclear in the primary picture.) Rounding out the collection is a page dedicated to provincial and Canadian crests, along with a photo of the Sister City Trophy (a work of silver and carved wood commissioned by the city of Burnaby, British Columbia, in honor of its sister city of Kushiro, Japan). The trophy seems a little out of place given the rest of the book’s undeterred focus on spoons, but a note on the back cover flap explaining that Refaussé designed the trophy explains its inclusion as a sort of culmination of a life spent in silver. Finally, the book presents a list of silver manufacturers and companies, including company symbols, locations and dates of operation. Even those not predisposed to souvenir collecting (though the spoons are now available for sale—inquiries can be made by fax to 604-597-1881) will be astonished by some of the spoons Refaussé has accumulated, particularly the beautifully rendered pick-and-shovel spoons representative of the Yukon. In her foreword, the author alludes to the rich Canadian history encapsulated in these silver treasures, and while the history lesson would have benefited from additional text to provide some context for the images, the craftsmanship of the spoons is a reward unto itself.

An impressive and enjoyable collection.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2009

ISBN: 978-0981334608

Page Count: 102

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2010

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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