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November 2019
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Best value MAPS of FRANCE, and keeping the children amused

Book Reviews for September by Susan Keefe

Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table, Book One

(Champagne, Alsace, Lorraine, and Paris regions) (The Savoring the Olde Ways Series)

by Carole Bumpus

Carole Bumpus a retired family therapist and the author of this absorbing book has within its pages shared her abundance of experiences which she and her husband Winston enjoyed whilst travelling from Paris in the Île-de-France, through the Champagne, Alsatian and Lorraine regions, and then returning to Paris.

Her travels through these eastern regions of France enjoying the food, and experiences of their local inhabitants were enhanced immeasurably by the presence of her French Californian friend and translator Josiane Selvage.

From the first page, this book is packed to bursting point with information, details of the villages they visited, the history of the regions, and the lives of the families they were welcomed into. Reading through it, the impact WWI and WWII had on family life and circumstances is clearly apparent. However throughout the centuries, ‘family favourites’ have, for the most part been conceived through necessity of one kind or another, either because of food shortages (whether it be conflict or caused through natural events,) or quite simply the necessity to create good, tasty, family food using the vegetable and fruit produce and the animals which are abundant where they live. As the years have passed these dishes may have been embellished by food companies and sold for the masses frozen, bottled or canned, but it is in the family kitchen that the best versions are made, with love, and with fondness because of the memories they evoke. For those readers who are keen cooks traditional recipes from each of the regions can be found at the end.

Living in France and enjoying sharing the last 16 years with our neighbours has taught my husband and I about the closeness of French families, and the importance of food and ‘family time.’   These values are wonderfully apparent in this book, and I am looking forward to book two in the series which is due to be released in August 2020. In it the author completes her journey, beginning again in Paris, and then heading north into Pas-de-Calais, Normandy, Brittany, to the Loire, my chosen region, and then completing the tour in the Auvergne.

Highly recommended: This book is compelling reading, its pages overflow with memorable moments, family secrets, and delicious recipes, and it will hold a prized place on the bookshelf of readers who love France, its food, people and history.

Available from Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Searching-Traditions-Champagne-Lorraine-Savoring-ebook/dp/B07H1BHPJH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Searching+for+Family+and+Traditions+at+the+French+Table&qid=1566810578&s=gateway&sr=8-1

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I BELIEVE: I Can Learn to Draw and Paint, Just Like Sara, the Golden Mare

by Suzanne Mondoux

I think we should always encourage creativity, and build self-esteem in our children and grandchildren, and this is why I love the ‘I Believe’ series of children’s books.

In this the third book in the series, two brave horses, Teddy and Carlo, decide to go on an adventure and visit the desert. When they arrive they are amazed at its size and beauty. However, they are even more surprised when the most beautiful horse which has golden hair and a silver mane comes over to say hello, with her friends the Mustangs.

The horse is called Sara and she’s very friendly. As they talk together Sara tells them about her life when she ran wild, before she met the Mustangs. She explains that now they all look after the desert, and the rich diversity of wildlife which live in it.

When she discovers that Teddy and Carlo don’t know how to draw or paint she offers to teach them, explaining that when she arrived she didn’t know either, but that with encouragement and practice it is easy to get better, and have great fun doing so.

At this stage the wonderful interactive part of this book really comes to life. It starts with a follow the numbers dot to dot to complete of a desert bird, which can then be coloured in, and then the author encourages children experiment with mixing colours and doing finger painting. This really appealed to my granddaughter, we had great fun discovering what colours different combinations made, and inventing a few of our own.

Then children are encouraged to first draw a Mountain Lion, colour it in, and then use their imagination to draw an animal a day for 30 days, and create scenes with people helping them. This is a lovely way for children to learn about animals, be creative, but also to think about animals, their needs, and how we can help them.

The author, in this interactive book has, by showing children simple skills, and inspiring, them through a lovely story, used positive reinforcement to empower them to have confidence in their own ability to draw and paint.

Available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Believe-Learn-Draw-Paint-Golden/dp/1982222530/ref=sr_1_4?qid=1566486516&refinements=p_27%3ASuzanne+Mondoux&s=books&sr=1-4&text=Suzanne+Mondoux

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