Missy’s Midnight Caper

Music and friends – what more could anyone ask for? This charming story will delight readers of all ages. A granddaughter and her grandfather have created a sweet tale about their favourite feline friend. In the story, Missy lives with her owners and expects them to retire early so that she can do what cats love to do – go out at night. For Missy, midnight is her hour for adventure. She has a secret. It unfolds as each page turns until the surprise is revealed. The inspiration of the young author will be readily appreciated. Drawing from experiences that are meaningful for her at the age of seven, she imagines a social life for Missy, her teddy bear and other stuffed animals. Do they have eyes of their own? The animals were very special for my granddaughter, Sophia, when she read the book. Missy’s Midnight Caper will be enjoyed by readers who love cats or play an accordion or another instrument. An original melody with words is included and every page features a colourful illustration. Although this picture storybook has been written for children, we can all join in the fun. What did I learn from my encounter with Missy’s nocturnal caper? Simple pleasures are treasured.








The End of Iceland’s Innocence

The Image of Iceland in the Foreign Media During the Financial Crisis

The End of Iceland’s Innocence, The Image of Iceland in the Foreign Media During the Financial Crisis, a book by Daniel Chartier was published in 2010 by the University of Ottawa Press, along with co-publisher, Presses de l’Université du Quebec. The book is an English language translation of La spectaculaire deroute de l’Islande, l’image de l’Islande Durant la srise ‘economique de 2008.
Daniel Chartier is a professor at the Université du Québec á Montréal and director of the International Laboratory for the Comparative Multidisciplinary Study of Representations of the North. (Who knew that such an institute existed?!)
His book looks at how the image of Iceland has been affected by the rise and fall of its private banks, notably Landsbanki, Kaupþing and the Glitnir bank.
As the title suggests, this book is essentially a compilation of the coverage given to Iceland’s financial crisis of 2008, primarily by nine leading foreign newspapers : The New York Times of New York, USA; Le Devoir of Quebec, Canada; The International Herald Tribune of Paris, France; The Financial Times, of London, U.K; The Herald of Glasgow, U.K.; The Globe and Mail of Toronto, Canada; The Australian of Sydney, Australia; Le Monde of Paris, France; and The Guardian of London, U.K.
This listing of well respected international media journals is a potent illustration of the old adage, “be careful what you wish for”! Iceland, with its unique language, small homogenous population, incomparable landscape, pristine pastures and artistic excellence in many fields has long sought for attention to these and other national assets from the foreign media. Tourism has been carefully developed and marketed and become a thriving industry. Upscale markets are developing a taste for high-priced lamb, fattened on the summer pastures of the unspoiled highlands.
In 2008 the media turned its attention to Iceland as never before, but not to extol the virtues of the landscape of the country or the artistic excellence of its people. They sensed that all was not well in the financial sector, and nothing draws the interest of the media like the smell of trouble in the banks. The feeding frenzy began in earnest when the British Government invoked its anti-terrorism act to freeze the assets of Landsbanki and the Kaupþing bank in the U.K.
This book is largely composed of articles from 2008, as markets and bond rating agencies began to get nervous about the affairs of the Icelandic banks, and, inevitably, Iceland itself. The Telegraph likened the country to “one big toxic hedge fund”! It goes on through 2009 and the upheavals that led to the fall of Prime Minister Geir Haarde’s government. The final entry in the chronology of events is dated January 5th 2010 , the day that Iceland’s President, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson vetoed the Government’s IceSave bill, legislation based on a negotiated settlement with the governments of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
For those with a deep affection for, and family roots that reach back to Iceland, this book is not an easy or entertaining read. As the author points out, little distinction was made by the foreign media between the financial institutions, the political parties, or for that matter, the people themselves. In a country as small as Iceland, the lines are blurred. Nor does the book, to any degree, make an effort to place responsibility or blame for the demise of the banks, beyond highlighting the gross excess and recklessness of the new entrepreneurs, as they expanded offshore and used the resources of the banks to go on an unprecedented buying binge. Iceland’s “New Vikings”, financial marauders, were out to make their mark, as quoted from the Dallas Morning News:
Over the last six years, a group of about a dozen young, U.S. educated financiers took Iceland on a Viking voyage of acquisitions, grabbing airlines, banks, mortgage lenders and securities traders from Texas to Hong Kong.
And later, also from the Dallas Morning News on Dec. 10th, 2009:
The Viking financiers have sought refuge abroad. ‘Their public relations experts say rehabilitating their images will have to wait until the financial blood-letting stops.’
This book does not purport to be an accurate analysis of events leading up to, and following the October crisis. It does state that, for most of the outside world, media reports are the primary way through which Iceland as a whole will be viewed and that its reputation as a utopian island nation has been badly tarnished. The newspapers question the adequacy of regulation in the Icelandic banking arena. In the euphoria that gripped the nation during the heady days of easy credit and low interest rates based on foreign denominated funds, where were the regulators? In Njáls Saga, the lawspeaker, Njáll Thorgeirsson quotes an old Nordic saying, Með lögum skal land byggja, en með ólögum eyða, “With laws shall the land be built, but with lawlessness laid waste”.
What does become clear is that Iceland’s reputation has been damaged by the reckless excesses of the “New Vikings”, and its financial affairs will not soon be restored to good health. Icelanders are bitter, the Vikings have departed and they are left to clean house and restore order – left to restore a shattered image in the eyes of a world which knows them only through what they read in their newspapers. The question we are left with is, “who will pay, and what price can be attributed to a nation’s reputation and integrity?” In the spring of 2011 we still await the answer to that question. A second attempt to resolve the IceSave issue has again been vetoed by the President, and as before, turned down in a national referendum. Interestingly, the foreign press quoted here does not delve into the value of the banks’ assets frozen by the U.K. Government, or any pledged as security by the high-flying investors.
In spite of the fact that this book deals with a very painful period in Iceland’s history, it does so with some sensitivity. While it leaves many questions unanswered, it provides a broad sweep of events and of the people at the centre of Iceland’s financial debacle.
The author dedicates the book to: “My Icelandic Friends”.

Kingdom of Trolls

 

Follow Wil and Sophie on an adventure to Iceland with Rae Bridgman’s new book, Kingdom of Trolls. Learn about crystal balls, rune stones, trolls, ghosts and some rather tasteful museums in Iceland. With a book so full of mystery, folklore beings and “galdur” there is no better setting than Iceland.
This is Wil and Sophie’s fourth adventure brought on by a mysterious unbeknownst organization called the Serpent’s Chain. Wil and Sophie are connected to this organization through the black medallion worn around Wil’s neck and through both their deceased sets of parents; however, these two children are very much in the dark as to how all the puzzle pieces in their lives fit together. They have very little information about the history or background of themselves and the situation they are currently in. So while they are busy having adventures and fouling foul plans, supposedly laid out by the Serpent’s Chain, they are also always garnering pieces of information about the Chain and their parents’ links to it. In Kingdom of Trolls, there is also the underlying, rippling, confusing, emotional question of whether or not the chain is as evil as they first believed.
Picking up this book, it is a little hard to follow some of the basic structures of the world Bridgman has created in this series, although this may be remedied by reading the previous books. The novel has an unoriginal “children detectives” theme to it, although the magical element does set it apart from others. One critic compared it to the Harry Potter series and I can see that there are similar elements - such as the deceased parent(s) of the main child character(s), the hidden magical community interacting with unsuspecting non-magical people on a day-to-day basis, and the spontaneous accidental danger that the characters find themselves in, but the comparison stops there. Although well researched and written, Bridgman lacks J.K. Rowling’s talent for bringing the characters to life on the page. And as much as Sophie’s glasses changing colour according to her mood is a creative, fun and original detail, Bridgman’s imagined magical world isn’t as clearly defined or as interesting as compared to the one Harry Potter lives in, and therefore I found the book not quite as engrossing.
The book is punctuated by very short chapters which makes it easy to read when you have a few spare minutes here and there. It is a book that I think would be more involving if you have read the prequels, although it is enjoyable on its own. For anyone that enjoys a novel involving a little mystery, a little fact, a little humour, and a little bit magic and folklore all mixed together, pick up Kingdom of Trolls. I am at least curious now if the museum featured in the book, the one containing only male... specimens, truly exists or not... only in Iceland.