NEW! The KSS Feature Reader …
Mr. Melle is an Administrator at Kelowna Secondary School.
The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant. A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed
A tree with luminous glowing needles, the golden spruce was unique, a
mystery that biologically speaking should never have reached maturity;
Grant Hadwin, the man who cut it down, was passionate, extraordinarily
well-suited to wilderness survival, and to some degree unbalanced. But
as John Vaillant shows in this gripping and perceptive book, the
extraordinary tree stood at the intersection of contradictory ways of
looking at the world; the conflict between them is one reason it was
destroyed. Taking in history, geography, science and spirituality, this
book raises some of the most pressing questions facing society today.
The golden spruce stood in the Queen Charlotte Islands, an unusually
rich ecosystem where the normal lines between species blur, a place
where “the patient observer will find that trees are fed by salmon
[and] eagles can swim.” The islands’ beauty and strangeness inspire a
more personal and magical experience of nature than western society is
usually given to. Without romanticizing, Vaillant shows that this
understanding is typified by the Haida, the native people who have
lived there for millennia and know the land as Haida Gwaii – and for
whom the golden spruce was an integral part of their history and
mythology. But seen a different way, the golden spruce stood in block 6
of Tree Farm License 39, a tract owned by the Weyerhaeuser forest
products company. It survived in an isolated “set-aside” amidst a
landscape ravaged by logging.
Thrilling and instructive though it may be, The Golden Spruce
confronts the reader with troubling questions. John Vaillant asks
whether Grant Hadwin destroyed the golden spruce because – as a
beautiful “mutant” preserved while the rest of the forest was
devastated – it embodied society’s self-contradictory approach to
nature, the paradox that harrowed him. Anyone who claims to respect the
environment but lives in modern society faces some version of this
problem; perhaps Hadwin, living on the cutting edge in every sense,
could no longer take refuge in the “moral and cognitive dissonance”
today’s world requires. The Golden Spruceforces one to ask: can the damage our civilization exacts on the natural world be justified?
Mr. Melle Just read…
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. is a memoir.
The Glass Castle
is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory
look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant.
When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his
children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to
embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and
destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of
domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.The
Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed,
and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York.
Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their
children prospered.The Glass Castle
is truly astonishing — a memoir permeated by the intense love of a
peculiar, but loyal, family. Jeannette Walls has a story to tell, and
tells it brilliantly, without an ounce of self-pity.
A Long Way Gone memoir of a boy soldier by Ismael Beah.
It is estimated that in the more than fifty violent conflicts going on
worldwide, there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to
be one of them.
In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now in his mid-twenties, tells how, at the
age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels in his homeland of Sierra Leone
and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen,
he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle
boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. This is a rare
and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and
Mr. Smith Just read…
Merle's Door : by Ted Kerasote:
is a wonderful read that is centered around the new relationship of a
man and a stray dog who befriends him. The man's life is changed!
Patrick Lawlor delivers an animated performance, both literally and
figuratively. His portrayal of Merle's enthusiasm and loyalty is so
endearing. The book has a genuine anthropomorphism while the author
tries to illuminate Merle's expressions and behaviors a true dog lover
cannot help but indentify. I have not been able to grant the freedom
that Kerasote lent Merle, but nevertheless, he made me think hard about
my love for the dog in my life- a pup chocolate lab.
Be our next Featured Reader– apply here: