Archives for category: classics

Brazenly, I decided to call my ordinary family’s history A Book of Kells after Ireland’s finest, famous relic of western civilization The Book of Kells. My sister, Tanis, agreed it should be “a story for all people of all time.” Our father (John Kell of a farming family) and mother deserved no less. Like the ninth century monks behind ‘The’ illuminated Gospel vellum, our parents practiced selfless Christian tenets, taking no credit themselves but leaving a record behind for the after life.

  • Brazenly, I thought of my genre as ‘true novel’ which defies the Oxford dictionary’s definition of the novel as being “fictitious prose.” Professor Northop Frye loved to tell his students that the Greek word “myth” simply means “story” and the English word “fictitious” is from the Latin word for “something made”. I wanted to relate as accurately and excitedly as possible what really happened in my parents’ lives so people would enjoy reading about it. That would make the book authentic and launch a voyage of self-discovery and learning as I wrote.
  • Brazenly, I decided all the names of people and places in my book would be real. My parents had been dead for over six years when I started to write it in 1996 but some names linked them to ongoing connections. I disciplined myself to do careful research and record my sources. If it was going to be a classic, it had to be able to stand up to scrutiny. If anyone objected or threatened to sue, my defence would be that I wrote the truth and could substantiate it. 
  • Brazenly, I bet myself I could find a beginning, middle, climax and ending in the appropriate places if I studied my parents’ diaries, letters, etc. thoroughly enough. I would not have to write fantasy, which I can’t. In fact, the bones of a novel were there and so was a theme: selfless love and redemption. I added the subtitle Growing Up in an Ego Void. Making myself my parents’ foil kept up the pace of the post-honeymoon story. Frye taught his students that the Bible (“the grammar of western civilization”) had two types of continuity. One was the chronological continuity of the Hebrew people’s history and the other was a cyclical continuity on the theme of redemption.
  • Brazenly, I took a chance on having BookSurge, a pioneer in the technology of print-on-demand digital publishing, publish my book in 2002. It cost only $299 so I still had $500 burning a hole in my pocket. I took advantage of an offer BookSurge made to hire New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Tanner Marsh, to review my manuscript prior to publication. She wrote a good, honest, favorable review from which I lifted a blurb to print on the back cover above her name and credentials.
  • Brazenly, I went to the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany in 2003 and dropped by the exhibit booths of the Canadian publishers to try to interest them in my book. BookSurge had invited its authors and we accepted because we were already planning a trip to Hungary. The publishers gave me the curt nods and surprised looks a self-publishing interloper on these hallowed premises might have expected. One publisher told me my book “reeked of self-publishing” although he felt BookSurge had done an excellent job. He pointed out that I had used “by” before my name on the cover, had no logo on the spine, did not have a page for chapter titles and did not refer back to my sub-title inside the book. When I came home I fixed these deficiencies. Two publishers called me later in Canada; Saint Paul University seriously considered publishing it but chose a competing book instead. They said mine fell between target audiences; they suggested I look for a publisher on the basis of location.
  • Stubbornly, I have persisted as an independent author, selling everywhere possible, but have now decided to be more selective and financially savvy. Aiming to write a classic is not the same thing as aiming to write a bestseller. At the recent conference of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa I was able to peddle editing services as well as books. I got a booming endorsement from a past president, Glen Wright, who said, “This is a marvellous book. I just read it. I hope you sell all the copies you brought with you.” Other good places for me to sell in are seniors’ residences where nostalgic, romantic, true books like mine are popular. I’m optimistic about returning to Galeries Aylmer’s Foire Artisanale on Nov. 25th along with Santa Claus. I’ll share a table with Stevie Szabad who is launching her book about being an army brat. For the first time I will have a Square register with me so I can accept credit cards. 
  • Brazenly, if someone asks who my role model author and favorite book are I reply, “Anonymous, who wrote The Summoning of Everyman. This morality play is the first play Frye mentions in his course on Modern Drama. It was written in fifteenth century England and is still being performed today. I saw it performed by Ottawa’s Third Wall Theatre in the National Art Gallery outdoor amphitheatre in 2005. It is being performed in the Pershing Square Theatre in New York City this year. 
  • Modestly, I do not plan to leave instructions in my will to have a copy of my book stolen and buried under the sod for two months and twenty nights before it is retrieved and presented to a university to be displayed, similarly to The Book of Kells. I’m very content to keep on trying to share the story and hearing from wonderful readers from all over who comment and say they enjoyed it. Writing a family history is memory’s classic way to create a link to loved ones and times that have passed on to the after life.


fizafaceTwins clash and a teacher is ruined by his peers in Raman and Sunny: Middle School Blues, author Fiza Pathan‘s inspiring new full-length novel. It is a crown of jewels to entertain readers and sit atop her several award-winning books.

  • She tackles bullying, being a twin, parenting and suicide risk while disastrous tween-age errors in judgment and villainous teacher politics wreak havoc. Her fresh outlook as a child of the nineties (now a seasoned teacher and tutor of grade-six-plus students) brings sound content and intelligent resolution to the story.Raman and Sunny ebook (1)Raman Sharma, only a few minutes older than his brother Sunny, is fed up with leading the life of a twin and desperate to establish his own, separate identity. At the beginning of the book they don’t even walk to school together any more, although they are in the same class. Uncontrolled emotions of lying, anger, jealousy and revenge take over, leading to despicable acts of betrayal and violence. A new teacher with a revolutionary philosophy of education as a “holistic experience” made up of “Question, Research, Debate” arrives on the scene. Sunil Sir is exceedingly popular with the students and, also, a pretty good detective.
  • Pathan’s work attains classic standards with its interesting plot, satisfying structure, universal theme (of redemption), suspenseful climax and elegant style. It falls into the categories of ‘literary’ fiction for its social commentary and in-depth characterization, and ‘paraliterary’ fiction for its fast pace and focus on action. The “pizza” forgiveness scene made this reader cry.
  • The novel is set in Pathan’s native Mumbai, with a few chapters retreating for a bittersweet interlude at a school for orphans surrounded by beautiful roses, but occasionally disrupted by unwanted wild life.
  • This book is very worthwhile reading, particularly for children and their parents involved with middle schools. Unforgettable sentences such as, “A child with an inquiring mind will always achieve academic excellence” and “Now I realize the importance of having a brother in my life who cares for me” could even transform readers’ lives.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics

pinocchiofizaGetting children to read classic books, even hilarious ones like Pinocchio, is not always easy but the stakes couldn’t be higher. They’re our best bet for ever achieving our dreams for self-realization, rebirth, peace, redemption and goodwill to all mankind. A good boy was what Geppetto was trying to carve out of his outrageously impossible, willful puppet. What classic books come to tell us is that the paradise-on-earth we dream of is never easy but can always happen. With more than ever readers, available books, gift-giving grandparents, creative teachers, informed parents and technological tools, we should be able to progress: – the Gutenberg Project offers free e-book versions of all books in print – you can download excerpts from movies of classics on devices; e.g. a mother I know used  Frozen (from a Hans Christen Andersen story) to organize a birthday party – a variety of audiovisual resources can be used in classrooms to stimulate interest pathanChampioning the cause is the beautiful, brave Fiza Pathan, a perceptive, passionate, young teacher and author who says she was “born to read”. She has just written How We Can Encourage Children to Read the Classics as a sequel to her bestseller, Why We Should Encourage Children to Read the Classics. An appendix and index tie her second book to her first for easy reference.She also portrays the poverty of her native Mumbia, India in a powerful novella about Nirmala the Mud Blossom, a tragic slum girl whose parents punish and beat her for reading After reading Pathan’s first book, I accepted her challenge of reading a classic a week. Luckily, I uploaded the original unabridged, illustrated version of my childhood favorite, Pinocchio. I was stunned to find out it’s about much more than your nose growing long if you lie. It is a nightmarish, heartrending, fantastical tale that veers in and out of life and death via sea monsters, evil deceivers, whippings, starvation, cold, burning, hanging and metamorphosis into a donkey’s body before the hero stops being other people’s puppet, realizes how much he loves his father (plus his conscience and good fairy) and how right they were. Chicago would have no gang and delinquency problems if all adults read this book to their children when young, and the child reread it in the unabridged version when older. Pathan’s two 100-page handbooks, based on her own experiences, should be bought by anyone who has anything to do with kids. The sequel contains tips, approaches, methods, book lists, quizzes, puzzles and insight to help you and yours get over the barriers that stand in the way of making reading the classics a habit you will love. Pathan spent hours in a school library in early childhood instead of with a babysitter. The librarian helped her select which books she wanted and they became her best friends. Today she is familiar with a huge number of books, continues to be an avid reader of contemporary as well as classic books and has acquired a sizable collection which she loans out to children. Some of the 10 pointers are for teachers and some for parents. Others apply in the classroom, library, group, one-to-one, home or other settings.

How to Use Pathan’s Handbooks to Encourage the Success of Children You Know

1. Find quotes to motivate yourself, remind yourself of the names and authors of time-honored books, refresh yourself on the difference between classics and other books and keep your mind clear about why this is important. 2. Have fun, educate and inform yourself by doing the puzzles and quizzes. 3. Be alert to small strategies, such as placing stacks of modern books and classics on different tables or corners of the room. 4. Develop the traits, patience, skills, persistence and loving approach you will need to successfully introduce a child to one, first classic you sense will suit them. 5. Use your imagination and resourcefulness to adapt and expand on Pathan’s advice with your own ideas. 6. Assess her observations that by reading classics a student gains descriptive powers, logical thinking, scientific skills, knowledge of history, philosophy, morals, better all-round performance, creative skills, compassion and empathy. 7. (Teachers) Try out her basic, direct classroom methods of showing a movie first, reading snippets in class, doing quizzes and having the students read a classic as a study-room or exam-writing break. Different children learn in different ways. 8. (Teachers) Also use her indirect classroom techniques such as PowerPoints, having the children make charts and do research, giving them roles to act out the books as plays. Teacher or parent can prepare and give a talk on the importance of reading the classics. 9.(Parents) She describes how she works with parents in her private tutoring classes and book club for children and wants to do more. Reading stories (abridged classics) out loud to young children is basic. Reading books conspicuously in front of older children sets an example and arouses curiosity. 10. Support school initiatives such as rapid reading, holiday reading, using excerpts from classics in comprehension classes, creating school libraries and classroom bookshelves. If your school has ‘value education’ or ‘moral science education’ classes, as in India, material from the classics could be part of the resources. Fiza Pathan has taken on a huge task. To help her campaign snowball or to buy her books, contact her at, or If you have comments or ideas to share, I’d be delighted to get them and pass them on. Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertain. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. We pass on writing advice by word and example. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church  by clicking here.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

fican encourage