Lena’s Story: The D-Day Landings (A Book Review)

“Lena’s Story: The D-Day Landings”
by Patricia Sinclair
Published by DriverWorks Ink
Reviewed by Ben Charles
C$12.95 ISBN: 9781927570463

 

“Lena’s Story: The D-Day Landings”, written by Patricia Sinclair, illustrated by Wendi Nordell, and published by DriverWorks Ink is a fantastic work of historical literature for young readers that is both beautifully crafted and exceptionally informative. The book cleverly educates the reader about the D-Day landings and World War II through a narrative of a young girl speaking with an elderly neighbor named Lena, who is about to move away. Like many real Canadians, the young girl in this story learns about the battle of D-Day and the history of World War II from elderly people in the community that either fought directly in the war or were alive during that time period. As I am writing this, Remembrance Day is approaching, and I cannot help but be reminded through this story that World War II and all of its horrors really did not happen a long time ago.

Lena tells the girl, and through a frame narrative the reader about what she remembers of that fateful day, June 5th, 1944, as Lena learns about the battle so does the reader. During Lena’s story, the reader will notice that some of the terms that she uses are in bold, this provides a neat method to teach the young readers new vocabulary and terminology about the war and the military. It is not just the terminology that is informative, but the entire book. As an adult reader, this book introduced me to new vocabulary and facts about the battle that I did not previously know. Upon finishing the book, I was impressed by the sheer attention to detail and the adherence to research that went into the information found in the story, and it gave me more confidence that what I had just read was truly legitimate. There is something for everyone to learn in this novel.

The simplistic yet powerful descriptions of the battle written by Sinclair are also brilliantly matched in tone and imagery by Nordell’s illustrations. The pencil sketches in the book give impact to the words, and the style is mature enough that a young reader would not feel as if they are reading a “baby book”. The writing found within this novel would also act as a great introduction to literary devices such as metaphors, similes, onomatopoeias, and the aforementioned frame narrative for young readers.

In conclusion, Sinclair’s novel is a fitting read in this season of Remembrance. As if the content of “Lena’s Story: The D-Day Landings” was not a respectful tribute to Canadian veterans on its own, a donation of the book’s sales is made to the Royal Canadian Legion. I cannot recommend this book enough both as a tribute to our veterans and as the perfect gift for the budding history buff in your family.

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM

Planes

As a boy, I would look up to the clear, blue skies
mesmerized
by the screaming white lines and triangle silhouettes.
Miniature and mysterious.
White and grey.

Crawling through the abyss
in slow motion
at blistering speeds
they march,
at altitudes as high as my ungrounded dreams.

 

My head in the clouds.
The pristine cerulean brilliance, once arrogant in its own awe
is now cyan. Tainted by envy.
I longed to pierce the heights, to damn Nature’s law.

 

My head in the clouds.
Someday I would be there.
I would be on one.

One turned to two.
Two became three.
Three.

And many more.

Daydreams of worldly travel died with long, sleepless nights and Oriental Mix.
An international hub of shysters, sore feet and dicks.
A bustling city of the dead. No one stops, no one lives. No one rests.
Creativity thrives amongst thieves and franchises,
demanding inconvenience as the price for the convenience.
Tired, hungry, and drained
forced to fight a war
versus an army of employees
who need to get laid.

BE THERE TWO HOURS EARLY!

They say,

To be two hours delayed.

 

Despite the delays,
the maze,
the twelve hour days
and the employees who need a lay.

Despite it all,
Tell the child in me that I made it,
that the beauty of the flight is worth endurance of the locusts.
I now look down at the billowing, majestic clouds.
Light as a feather,
moving anciently, as if woken from a millennia old slumber.
Flexing, lumbering, and blustering like the authority of the Earth that they are.

Respect is found in my heart,
my true size revealed in this wild tube ride.
Mesmerized
by the yawning white behemoths below,
and their black silhouettes.
Majestic and mysterious.
White and grey.

 

River Rock

Tell me, river rock, what do you know?
Wisdom erode, timeless flow.

Cradled smooth.
Ancient, nomadic,
unmoved.

The affection of God’s eye embraces you.
Spectacular shades of love.
The glistening, rapid streams of your heaven above
reflect shades of reds, violets, oranges, and blues.

The fish swallow and spit you out as bone.
The children laugh and skip you over ripple and rave.
You sink to the bottom.
You sink with your legion, an army in a lave,
but yet you are completely alone.

Cradled smooth.
Ancient, nomadic,
unmoved.

The Birthday Poem

The skeleton dances ’round the sun again.
It dances with the sword, the mat, and the pen.

“Happy Birthday” creeps me the fuck out.
Standing loved ones surround me,
my heart resounds with anxiety.
Delusions of immortality fade into doubt.
I look around, it’s too uncomfortable to stare at the smiling people.
They sing off-harmony, they sing off-key.
They sing from the heart, they sing with glee.

“What an archaic tradition,” I mutter to myself.
A great, white ball of fire is before me,
ready to be extinguished,
ready to reveal a singular prophecy.

The loved laugh.
My love is by my side.
“What an archaic tradition,” I mutter. “But I guess it’s not that bad.”
Annual lifetimes have brought change, sorrow, toil, and laughter.
Twenty-seven trips- some were triumphs and some were disasters.
I laugh, I think, and I shed a tear.
“What an archaic tradition,” I mutter.

“But I do hope to do it all again next year.”

The Casino

A glorified bingo palace,
same indignant smell.
Saps sitting silently,
counting contently,
offering obediently.

Saps sitting silently,
planted in place.
Pacing in place- preparing for self-promised pipe dreams.

Tax dodgers, collections dodgers, draft dodgers, wife dodgers, and coffin dodgers alike
flock as moths to the warm glow of the pharaoh,
as disciples they listen
to the soothing reassurances from bets high and low,
that their grass may grow greener.
Reality goes on strike.

Down the dated carpet I walk,
I see the young and old fixed on cards and screens,
sarificing precious time and superficial dollars
to legal criminals, to cheats in blue collars.
The wolves who have ditched wool for Armani cackle,
friends of the fallen feed the fiends.

This is not meant to provide fame nor fortune, this vice.
How can these people be so gullible, so docile, as well trained pets?
So I shake my head, and I buy a beer.
I hum and I haw, I light a cigarette.
I take a drink,
I take a puff,
I curl my lips in contempt at the saps,
I sneer,

“What a waste of life.”

Fishing

The water is calm and careless
as virgin glass
shimmering like countless diamonds.
Nothing is wrong,
emails and deadlines and phone calls are nowhere near to harass,
aluminum beer cans stashed in an aluminum diamond,

glistening in mounds.

Rocks are weathered, wise and smooth
from the constant caress of the shore.
My brother swears, can’t see the beauty
only sees a chore.
As he misses the forest for the trees,
I admit that they are impossible to miss.
An oaken, birch and pine army watches on,
Tall, dark, and legion.
A stoic reminder this world is not mine to do as I please.
Winds whisper news from the Arctic, they sway and they soothe.

With a flick and a plop
my line hits the water.
In this waiting game I pop a top,
light a cigarette, sit back and relax
to talk meaningless trivia and pop culture facts.
Did you know that the Biebs is engaged to Stephen Baldwin’s daughter?” 

Bended urgency cuts riveting conversation short!
An aquatic wrestler writhes and convulses
guilty of only following instinct and a yellow 5 spotted lure.
I cuss and swear, it is becoming a chore.
C’mon, you dirty fuckin’ whore!”
The line is up, my reel whirs, I cannot hear it over a rapid pulse
Flashes of silvers, emerald and a torpedo contour
I am aided by the closest helping hand, through netted support.

Stripped from the water, a rude awakening like birth.
The wrestler becomes a gymnast
bending, leaping, contorting to impossible angles
to escape the anglers, scorching in the sun, or drowning on the earth.
In the plastic box it goes. A live well, a death row cell.

Back to shore we clean, filet, cook, then celebrate.
Eat as we have been eaten by mosquitos and gnats.
Our hearts full of love, our heads full of joy, our bellies full of beer and fat.
Off to bed in bunks, ignoring sounds of buzzing intruders and death rattle snores.
The sun’s curious oranges peek over her celestial fence.
She is excited, too impatient and tense. She does not know her own strength
her radiance pours.

Steam from black coffee rises from porcelain and sand.
One more cast off the beach then I’ll go for breakfast, I tell myself.
As I cast off again and again.

Hidden

A surprise you will never find
is a discarded cigarette pack with one left inside,
nor the last swallow
of a suffering man’s bottle.

Always on the defence, building a wall.
Always on the fence, to love or to maul?
Parrying and fencing, the dance must abide.
Parrying and fencing the questions, the love, the attacks!

An “I’m Ok” reprised,
another empty promise compromised.
Love drowns.
Clawing, gnashing, thrashing
desperately through the ice.
It does not sink silently into a frozen goodnight.
Echoes escape, corroded and hoarse.
Love battles through unfathomable fathoms
through a sunken, bloated corpse.

Monkey on the back, something on the chest.
Cackling black hounds tear flesh asunder.
Tears too precious to fall, the damned dam them under.
No life, no rest.

Guilt-ridden, heavy becomes light as feathers.
Bottled, trapped like rats, as thieves hidden.

Modern knights awake all night, safe as houses.
Baring teeth bore in armour.
Invulnerable, impregnable.
Safe and sound in steel, brick and leather.
Yet clinging to the sword and the shield.
They live as statues, slower and sleepy.
Invulnerable, and unable to see past the mask they wear,
unable to strip the heavy armour they bear.

Silent screams swallowed.
Bottled battles are eaten as broken glass.
Scars, scorn, frozen disdain.
Once a rich vessel, now a shell husked and hollow.
Fire, ice, water and the serpent clash.
Black hounds lick their lips, gnash teeth.
The soundtrack of sleepless nights
becomes a cacophony of their perverted laughs.

Parrying and fencing the questions, the love, the attacks!
The body gives, cold steel cleaves the back.
One hand outstretched, a finger seeks who is to blame.
The other clutches his hilt, unaware of where the blade resides.
Like an impatient Damocles, the knight chooses not to see, chooses pain.
Invulnerable, hidden.
Struck. Stuck.
Not by the dagger in the back.
Not by the questions, the love, the attacks!
Imagined enemies draw closer, they fester and seethe.
As his own sword remains in his foot, he is frozen and bleeds.
Here the blade resides, black hounds cackle and chide.
Frozen and bleeding, yet the dance must abide.