Children's book tells Craig Kielburger story

{mosimage}TORONTO - Young children’s experiences can have a lasting influence on their lives. For Craig Kielburger, his first trip to help children in South Asia at the age of 12 was such an experience, and he has chronicled it in a children’s book called It Takes A Child.

Kielburger is the founder and chair of Free the Children, a Toronto-based organization that aims to eliminate poverty and exploitation of children around the world through education and social programs, such as Adopt A Village. This program allows families that are confronted with poverty a chance to break out and live successfully, building schools and establishing health clinics among other things.

Quest hero meets the supernatural

{mosimage}Ryann Watters and the King’s Sword: Book One, The Annals of Aeliana by Eric Reinhold (Creation House, 227 pages, hardcover $17.99).

There is no shortage of quest-oriented books on the market today, each with its own unlikely heroes struggling against all odds to reach their final goal. With Ryann Watters and the King’s Sword, author Eric Reinhold has also entered into this popular realm of adventure and suspense, but with a supernatural twist. 

Benyamin Cohen connected to his Judaism through Christianity

{mosimage}Why is an Orthodox Jewish man, son of a rabbi, going to church every Sunday?
In My Jesus Year: A Rabbi’s Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith, Benyamin Cohen chronicles adventures and lessons learned while attending church services for a year. He talks of how his faith in Judaism was renewed from his Christian experiences. The story was made all the more fascinating as his wife, the daughter of a Baptist minister, had just finished converting to Judaism when he embarked on his year-long journey to explore what churches of various denominations offered.

Richard Neuhaus faces Babylon

American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile, by Richard John Neuhaus (Basic Books, hardcover, 288 pages, $31).

You won’t enjoy American Babylon if (a) you’re not loyal American, (b) you didn’t support the Bush administration agenda, or (c) you can get through your day without a pressing need to disparage the philosophy of Richard Rorty and other “liberal ironists.”

The book’s title is provocative in itself — as was its author, the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. The historic Babylon is located just outside Baghdad, where there is nothing more than a series of mounds and ruins, the place having been destroyed by the armies of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. Babylon is mentioned many times and in several symbolic ways in the Bible. About 600 years before Christ, the Babylonian dynasty attacked the kingdom of Judah, captured Jerusalem and exiled the Israelites.

Doing it right for a world gone wrong

{mosimage}Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy by Peter G. Brown and Geoffrey Garver (Berrett-Koehler, softcover, 216 pages, $21.95).

Reading Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy in Kenya is a powerful experience. Right and wrong relationship live side-by-side here — in technicolour. Wrong relationship is vividly illustrated by slums with no electricity or running water bumping up against the gates of the manicured lawns of this country’s elite.

Right relationship, as defined by the authors, “tends to preserve the integrity, resilience and beauty of the commonwealth of life.” The term’s early Quaker usage is expanded to incorporate scientific and economic concepts that more clearly illustrate what “integrity, resilience and beauty” look like — or how they are violated — in today’s world.

Unity begins with prayer

{mosimage}A Century of Prayer for Christian Unity , Catherine E. Clifford ed. (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., softcover, 143 pages, $26).

There is a difference between hope and wishful thinking. When the ecumenical movement was in full swing, particularly immediately after Vatican II when the Catholic Church joined in, the hope was palpable. Many expected long-standing divisions would soon be overcome and Catholics, Orthodox, Anglican and mainline Protestants would soon be joining in a common celebration of the Eucharist.


Comic? Yes. Spiritual? No

{mosimage}Heaven is Small by Emily Schultz (House of Anansi Press, 256 pages, $29.95).

In her comic novel Heaven is Small, Toronto author Emily Schultz takes a light-hearted approach to the hereafter. At the outset the protagonist, Gordon Small, has just died — “an event he had failed to notice” — and he seeks new employment as a proof-reader of romance novels at the Heaven Book Company. 

Although the novel is creative, it does not offer any serious reflection on life after death.


An outsider's inside look at the Vatican gardens

{mosimage}When Linda Kooluris arrived at the Vatican with an old Nikon F2 she discovered the secret life of the city state. She also found out it is not really a secret.

Twenty-seven years later the photographer and painter reveals her discoveries in The Gardens of the Vatican, a 159-page, hardcover photo book with text by her husband Kildare Dobbs (McArthur & Company, $39.95).


‘The Great Hunger’ changed Toronto

{mosimage}Death or Canada: The Irish Famine Migration to Toronto, 1847 by Mark G. McGowan (Novalis, hardcover, 170 pages, $24.95)

Few experiences can be more painful than having to tell your hungry child there is no food. Today mothers and fathers in Sudan, North Korea and other troubled countries have to do just that. In the mid-1800s, it was Irish parents who witnessed their children starve, as they did so themselves.

The crushing nature of famine is captured most poignantly in J.P.L. Walton’s lament, first published in The Limerick Reporter in 1846 and reprinted in this beautifully produced book. As he and his neighbours suffered, Walton’s “Irish Labourers’ Pater Noster” reads, in part:
 

Young authors explain sexuality

{mosimage}Sexuality is an inescapable topic, yet teens just aren’t being given the tools to evaluate their relationships properly, say the authors of a new book for Catholics called How Far Can We Go?

“Kids don’t like scare tactics, so if you tell them they might get pregnant or get AIDS, it often doesn’t help — it basically reinforces the idea that if you don’t get AIDS or get pregnant then there’s no problem. But if you say it’s bad for your relationship... and if you find out what level of intimacy is appropriate to you, that’s much better than saying here’s what not to do,” said co-author Brett Salkeld.

Truth can hurt, even in a beautiful way

{mosimage}Perfecting by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer (Goose Lane, hardcover, 360 pages, $22.95)

Classical and medieval writers on esthetics believed that what made a work of art good was — at least in significant part — its proportion to the subject matter, its “trueness” to even an ugly topic. A true and proportionate image of the ugly can be beautiful because it shows forth the subject in a way that strips away ambiguities or irrelevant details that cloud the issue.