ROAR-chestra!: A Wild Story of Musical Words Robert Heidbreder & Duýan Petričić (Illustrations)

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It will be released May 4, 2021 by Kids Can Press.

Robert Heidbreder  & Dusan Petricic are masters of their craft. Never has learning musical terminology been full of so much joy. 

It begins with bow tied animals of all sorts waiting while the human conductor arrives in front of them. 

Then the conductor waves the baton to command allegro!

And the creatures begin to move accordingly, "quickly, swiftly, race, run fly!" 

Each time the conductor switches to a different tempo, the animals follow suit, and a new line of poetry captions it all. The piece moves along through adagio, glissando, staccato, dolce, fortissimo and pianissimo. Readers can almost imagine the music that accompanies each part. 

I like that the conductor could be either gender. I appreciate the humour that Petričić integrates into the animal characters. I love the energy in Heidbreder's poetry. It's impossible to imagine a world where these words and images are not always together. 

There are many ways to make this book interactive. I can imagine reading this to a group of children and have them guess what the term might mean based on the Conductor's baton movements. If the space is big enough children can move along with the animals. There is also the fun of figuring out which animal fits into each case. 

The only quibble I have with this book is that it doesn't have music samples in it. 

#MustReadIn2021 April Update

It’s time for our first #MustReadin2021 update! These updates are optional, but some of us find that doing them keeps us more focused on our reading goals. 

Carrie Gelson at There's a Book for That started #MustRead as a way to address our GoodReads lists. This year Leigh Anne Eck at A Day In the Life and I are taking over for her.

How are you all doing? Have you been distracted by other books? Have you made progress? What have you read that shines through? Add your link at the bottom of the page and let us know where you are at. 

You can see my original post here.


So far I've read 8/24 books from my #MustReadIn2021Fiction list.

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson
A young boy watches his family fall apart when his famous football father ends up deteriorating because of repeated head trauma.

Black Water by David A. Robertson
In this loving biography, Robertson writes about his father's life and how it influenced his own.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
In this prequel to The Hate U Give, we learn the backstory of Star's father, Maverick Carter.

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
In this #Ownvoices novel, a young girl, Della, tells the story of her and her older sister, Suki, who ended up in the foster care system after being sexually abused.

Hatch by Kenneth Oppel
In this second part of his Overthrow series, three teens with unusual capabilities are interned with other kids like them. In the meantime, monstrous insects are hatching and devouring everything in their path.

The King of Jam Sandwiches by Eric Walters
This story, based on Walter's real life, tells of two grade eight students living hard lives. They end up saving each other. 

Our Corner Store by Robert Heidbreder
In these delightful poems, Heidbreder captures the sounds and smells of a time gone by.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Doyle writes honestly about her divorce from her husband, and controversial new marriage to her wife.

I'm currently reading Apple: Skin to the Core by Eric Gansworth.


I've almost finished 4/12 books from my #MustReadIn2021Nonfiction list.

All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward by Tanya Talaga
Tanya Talaga looks at common themes that plague indigenous cultures from around the world. "From Northern Ontario to Nunavut, Norway, Brazil, Australia, and the United States, the Indigenous experience in colonized nations is startlingly similar and deeply disturbing."

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Chung was adopted by a white family when she was a baby. Growing up as the only Asian child in a white community was a difficult experience. Her story is an important read for people contemplating interracial adoption.

Strong Is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves by Kate T. Parker
The photographs in this book highlight different traits that make girls strong. I only wish there had been more diversity in this book.

I'm not quite finished The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert but will have it done by the end of this week. It's a profound book that looks at how humans are responsible for the catastrophic end to millions of species. 


I've finished 24/100 picture books from #MustReadPBIn2021. All of these were on my list because they had received rave reviews. So far I've given them either 4 or 5 stars. Picking one or two of the best is impossible.


I've read 14/25 books by Canadian Indigenous authors. You can read more about them here


I started this challenge last October. So far I've finished 38/41 of the main Discworld books. My heart aches as I get to the end. I feel like I am saying goodbye to old friends. There are miniseries within the collections that I know I will read again. Terry Pratchett does so much in these novels to educate his readers. He provides us with a mirror to look upon our own world in all it's messiness. He does it with remarkable grace, humour, and tenderness. I have become a serious fan.

Let us know how you are doing. Add your link below!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

#IMWAYR April 19th, 2021

 Hello out there. It's #IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

I'll be posting the #MustReadIn2021 update link this week so stay tuned!

Titles with a 🍁 indicate this is a Canadian or Indigenous Canadian Author and or Illustrator. 

Clicking on the title will take you to the Goodreads page of the book. 


Alice Fleck's Recipes for Disaster by by Rachelle Delaney


4 stars

Ten Little Dumplings
by Larissa Fan & Cindy Wume (Illustrations) Jan 05, 2021  🍁

Larissa Fan's father was one of ten boys. This is a fictionalized account of them growing up in Taiwan. If one boy was considered lucky, then imagine how lucky the family was to have ten of them! If you look closely you will see that there is one other child in the family.
I like that this story begins as a narrative about the boys, and then turns into a story about that other child. I like that it is based on real people.

5 stars

Mel Fell
by Corey R. Tabor Feb 2, 2021

Mel is a brave little kingfisher who is determined that today is the day she will fly. She might even catch her first fish.

Since I retired I've lost track of Messner's Over and Under series. I'm glad to read this one. It makes me want to visit Costa Rica (except for the spiders, snakes and crocodiles.) I love the illustrations and the additional information in the back matter. For readers who live near Vancouver Canada, you can visit the different levels of a northern temperate rainforest and walk across similar hanging bridges at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.


If you are looking for books that deal with fat shaming, add this and My Body In Pieces to your library.
Ellie has always been a large sized kid. She learned at an early age to hate her body. The shame and bullying she experienced from her mother, her siblings, kids at school, and doctors was internalized. Her mother has had her on diets since before she started school.
Thankfully Ellie has two people on her side. When a new family moves in next door, Ellie becomes friends with Catalina, their daughter. Catalina's whole family accepts Ellie just as she is. Ellie's father is also supportive.
When her mother wants her to undergo bariatric surgery, her father intervenes. Arrangements are made for Ellie to see a therapist instead of a surgeon. The therapist helps Ellie start to love and accept herself. Then she helps her confront her mother.

I know this is a children's novel, but it's probably as important that parents and other adults read it. The obscenity of diet culture and fat shaming of others and ourselves has to stop.

Harmony and Robert are two grade eight students in hard situations. Although it's never acknowledged, It seems like Robert's single parent father is bipolar. Harmony's mom is an addict and alcoholic. They meet when Robert is asked to look after Harmony, a new student, and show her around the school. After an inauspicious first day the two become best friends. Harmony is in a good foster placement situation, while Robert, who lives with his father, is essentially on his own. In the end they save each other.
I adored these characters and you will too. I love the humour, the angst, and the honesty of this book.
I didn't know til reading the author's note at the end that this is based on Eric Walters' life. Harmony is also a real person. The two of them have remained friends to this day.
3.5 stars

The Midnight Bargain
by C.L. Polk & Moira Quirk (Narrator) Oct 13, 2020  🍁

I'm not sure I would have picked this up if it wasn't a Canada Reads (CR) contender this year. It's a feminist, romantic, historical, fantasy set in an alternative regency England.
I almost abandoned this in the early part of it, but persevered because getting to CR is high praise. I ended up finishing it because I became so invested in the characters.
Beatrice Clayborn's family is on the edge of penury. If she doesn't find a suitable match in her 'bargaining' season, the family will be ruined. Beatrice has no desire to be wed because it means she will have to give up her goals for magic. Even when the man of dreams, Ianthe, wants to marry her, she refuses.
I like the magical parts of this book. I especially liked Nadi, Beatrice's spirit. It was a bit hokey in places, but overall a fun read.
The narration was delightful. Moira Quirk is also the narrator of Gail Carriger's series: Finishing School, and Custard Protocol. If you liked those you will like this. 

Alice and her father end up on a cutthroat cooking show set against the backdrop of a Victorian Fair. The week away from home provides all kinds of opportunities for Alice to become a different person. All it takes is a little courage, determination, and willingness to look deep within herself. 
Warning! At the end of this book you might want to dig out your stand mixer and start to cook. You can read my full review here

This is a sequel to Going Postal. I liked getting to spend time with Moist von Lipwig and his girlfriend Adora Belle Dearheart and her Golem Trust. This time Moist ends up as acting Chairman of a bank, the actual one being the previous Chairman's dog. The bank's corrupt family goes out of it's way to get rid of him. Moist ends up confessing his criminal past to everyone.

I was delighted to see more of Patrician Havelock Vetinari in this one too. I can see why people reread the Discworld, since the more I read, the more I see how convoluted it all is.


This is what I have on the go:

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo, Olivia Gatwood & Theodore Taylor III (Illustrations)
Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Apple: Skin to the Core by Eric Gansworth
I've read ROAR-chestra! by Robert Heidbreder couple of times and will have a blog post about it next week. 


A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus
Tremendous Things by Susin Nielsen
The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as Told to His Brother) by David Levithan


#MustReadIn2021 8/25 one in progress

#MustReadNFIn2021 3/12 one in progress

#MustReadPBIn2021 22/100 

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 14/25

Books by Canadian Authors: 36/100

Canada Reads 2021 4/5 

Discworld Series 39/41 

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 144/333

Alice Fleck's Recipes for Disaster by by Rachelle Delaney

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It will be released May 11, 2021 by Puffin Books (Penguin Random House Canada.)

It's been just Alice and James, her single parent father, since Alice was born. They love to cook together. James is a culinary historian, so they delve into recipes from the past and recreate different dishes. Hana, James' girlfriend, videotaped them cooking medieval peacock pie. Unbeknownst to them, she sent a copy of it to Culinary Chronicles, a cooking show on the History channel that Alice and her father love. It's being set during a Victorian Festival that Hana is part of. They have been accepted.

Alice reluctantly agrees to being on the show because she admires Mei-Ling, the supportive host of the show. Besides, other kids don't even know about Culinary Chronicles, never mind watch it. Gladstone Manor, where everything is taking place, is a refurbished castle. Alice figures it might not be such a terrible week after all. 

The morning of the first day of taping, the participants are gathered together and informed that the show has been purchased by a reality tv channel. Some drastic changes have made. No longer will it be a friendly non competitive show. Culinary Chronicles has become Culinary Combat. Mei-Ling is gone and has been replaced by a narcissistic, semi-famous reality TV star. They've brought in a food judge infamous for his insistence on perfection and vitriolic remarks. Still, Alice and James decide to continue. 

While at the festival Alice makes friends with Tavi and Henry, a couple of kids about her age. Tavi goes to historical reenactments with her folks all the time and enjoys wearing historical costumes. Henry plans to become a detective just like his hero, Sherlock Holmes. The trio realize that someone is sabotaging the show and set out to find out who. 

It turns out that the week away, participation in the show, and making new friends are the impetus for all kinds of changes for Alice. By the end of the book she's become more comfortable being herself and accepts that Hana is going to be a part of their life. 

I liked the humour and authenticity of this book. It's a delight to read about the relationship between Alice and her father. Alice's complicated feelings towards Hana feel realistic. I appreciated learning more history of Victorian England. I liked that while the TV show was set up to be antagonistic, the contestants themselves were actually friendly and supportive towards each other. 

I was fascinated by all the the cooking details revealed in the book. My only complaint is that there are no recipes to accompany it. Maybe I will never make peacock pie or  Charlotte Russe, but I would loved to have seen the recipes included. 

Warning! At the end of this book you might want to dig out your stand mixer and start to cook.

#IMWAYR April 12, 2021

Hello out there. It's #IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

It was cold last week,  but I managed to finish weeding all the garden beds. Compost is spread over the vegetable patch. Monday (today) we will rototill it in and then go for another load of compost. Some will go in the remainder of our gardens and the rest will go to the neighbours. I've managed to get the grape and flowering bushes pruned. It's all just in time because many of the seeds I planted with my grandkids are ready to get transplanted into real dirt. 

Titles with a 🍁 indicate this is a Canadian or Indigenous Canadian Author and or Illustrator. 

Clicking on the title will take you to the Goodreads page of the book. 


by Thao Lam


4 stars

Pierre & Paul: Avalanche! Caroline Adderson & Alice Carter (Illustrator)  🍁 March 15th 2020
This was delightful! It's the story of two boys who head off on an adventure, but then the two explorers become hungry. They return to Pierre's house. Paul does not want salad so they end up making a magnificent mountain of a sandwich. When it ends up collapsing, they have to eat it out of a large bowl.
The book is written with English and French mixed together. Although sometimes I had to dig into my highschool French, for the most part, the meaning of the French vocabulary is accessible from the context of the story and illustrations. I appreciate that it wasn't a huge struggle and can see that this book (and hopefully there will be more in the series) is ideal for French immersion and French as a second language learners.

5 stars

Over the Shop
by JonArno Lawson & Qin Leng (illustrator) 🍁 January 5, 2021

This is a book you want to pore over a couple of times at least. It is so richly nuanced and detailed that you need at least two go throughs to begin to appreciate it fully. You also need time. Don't rush to finish it.
On my first read I just grasped the story. The second time I reveled in the little details. One of my favourites is the maple leaf on the syrup jug when the young girl and her grandmother are eating pancakes. It shouts out, I am Canadian!

Over the Shop is about acceptance and transformation. A girl and her grandmother live behind their small grocery store. The apartment above them is vacant, but needs a lot of work. Many people come to view it, but no one wants to rent it. Then an energetic young couple arrive and with the help of the girl, mange to improve the place. At the same time as they transform the apartment, they manage to transform their community.

5 stars

by Thao Lam 🍁 April 21, 2021

The author writes about her experiences growing up with a different sounding name. It's an important book that teaches readers awareness and empathy. It encourages other new immigrants to take pride in their own names and identity. To see more images from it, check out my full blog post here

A young boy travels with his Moshom (Grandfather) to visit the family trapline. On the journey he learns more about his Moshom and his culture. Julie Flett's artword is spectacular. I expect this one to win awards. To see more images from it, check out my full blog post here


4 stars

Kou-skelowh - We are the people : a trilogy of Okanagan legends
 by Barbara Marchand (illustrator) 🍁 most recent edition: 2017

I wanted to know more about the Syilx, the indigenous people who live in the part of Canada where I grew up and have returned to. This bilingual trilogy is written in both Syilx and English. It includes: How Food Was Given, How Names Were Given, and How Turtle Set the Animals Free. Barbara Marchand's illustrations bring the tales to life. 
The story of how these three origin stories came to be is as interesting as the stories themselves. Syilx elders were an integral part of the process from start to finish. Two of their criteria were that the stories remain unauthored, and that a profit not be made from them. 


5 stars

The Rose Code
 by Kate Quinn 
Mar 09, 2021

Kate Quinn writes brilliant historical fiction. I devoured the 600 pages of this book in two afternoon & evening sessions of reading. It is a compelling story of three  women from different backgrounds who become friends while working at Bletchley Park in the UK. I loved these characters. I wept for them, I feared for them and I celebrated with them. I loved learning about life at Bletchley Park during the war. In the author's note at the end of the book, Quinn talks about the real women her fictional characters are based on. It was as fascinating and satisfying as the book itself. 

Omakayas and her family receive warning that they must leave their home. This novel takes place just before the migration begins. Omakayas grows and matures while a group of men head off to collect what is owed to them after signing a treaty with white people. I loved the complex relationships between the siblings. While they are often frustrated with each other, there is also a lot of love.

3.5 stars

Amari and the Night Brothers
by B.B. Alston & Imani Parks (Narrator) Jan 19, 2021

Amari's older brother, Quinton, has been missing for a while, so when she receives an unexpected package from him, she follows his instructions. Soon she's enrolled in a paranormal school and training to be a Supernatural Investigator. She just has to pass a series of three tests and not let the fact that she is a magician get her disqualified.
I liked lots about this book. I like that Amari's skin colour and her family's financial situation are dealt with realistically and provide a connection to the ordinary reality of kids like her today. I liked her relationship with Elise and even Dylan. I liked the complexity of some of the 'evil' characters. I liked the integration of all the mythical creatures.
I had a hard time with all the bullying stuff. I just don't like books that have this as an issue, especially when those characters are never shown to be much more than empty antagonists. I really hate to see girls in these kinds of situations when what I want to see and modelled is cooperation between them.
I anticipated the final betrayal, but won't spoil it for the rest of you who haven't read it.

This hilarious novel is a parody of football (soccer) and the world of sports. Like all of Pratchett work it’s full of important messages about living a good life and getting along with others. With the introduction of Mr Nutt, (a goblin) he forces us to examine stereotypes and the issue of inclusion vs exclusion. I like how this book introduces us to the ordinary people who 'work downstairs'. I especially appreciate that it is these ordinary folk who end up saving the day for the wizards. Glenda is one of my new Pratchett heroes. 


This is what I have on the go:

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo, Olivia Gatwood & Theodore Taylor III (Illustrations), 
The King of Jam Sandwiches by Eric Walters
Making Money by Terry Pratchett


My next audiobook will be Starfish by Lisa Fipps
I plan to start 
Apple: Skin to the Core by Eric Gansworth
My goal is to read and review two Netgalley titles: Alice Fleck's Recipes for Disaster by Rachelle Delaney & ROAR-chestra! by Robert Heidbreder. 


#MustReadIn2021 7/25 one in progress

#MustReadNFIn2021 3/12 one in progress

#MustReadPBIn2021 22/100 

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 14/25

Books by Canadian Authors: 32/100

Canada Reads 2021 3/5 

Discworld Series 38/41 

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 136/333  

On the Trapline by David Alexander Robertson & Julie Flett (Illustrations)

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It will be released May 4, 2021 by Tundra Books.

A young boy and his Moshom (Grandfather) travel to the north to visit the family's trapline where Moshom grew up.

On the journey the boy learns what life was like for Moshom. Throughout the book, readers, along with the boy, are introduced to aspects of Cree culture, experiences, and history. Life is, and was, very different from the boy's city life. Some experiences, like swimming in a lake and playing with friends are similar. Others, like living in close quarters, working outdoors, eating berries right from the tree, fishing, and being sent away to school, are not. 

Each section of the book ends with a Swampy Cree word and it's translation. These create a kind of sacred pause that serve to accentuate the significance of the passage. 

At one point they visit the remains of an old building where Moshom went to residential school. Two important words punctuate this recollection. The boy learns from his elder that, "Most of the kids only spoke Cree, but at the school, all us had to talk and learn in English." Moshom adds, "My friends and I snuck into the bush so we could speak our language." 

Ininimowin means "Cree Language."

The boy asks what it was like going to school after living on the trapline. After a long time Moshum replies, "I learned in both places... I just learned different things." 

Pahkan means "different."

The back matter contains notes from the author and illustrator as well as a glossary of the Swampy Cree words used in the book. 

As soon as I started reading this I was reminded of Black Water by David Robertson, an autobiographical biography of his relationship with his father. The two of them journeyed together to the family's trapline. I was happy to see this connection confirmed in the author's note in the back matter. In this book it feels like Robertson is sharing the essential truths he discovered about his father and himself on that expedition. 

Julie Flett's artwork is superbly glorious as always. There is something nostalgic about her work here. Perhaps it's the context of the story, but it might because her family come from the same place as Robertson's. It feels like it reflects her own personal connection to their shared landscape. 

Highly recommended. I expect this book to win awards. 

Thao by Thao Lam

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It will be released April 15, 2021 by Owlkids Books.

Renowned Canadian author, Thao Lam, tells the story of growing against the backdrop of a culture that doesn't deal well with difference. 

It begins with an adorable photograph of the author as a young girl.  The next page shows her surrounded by a diverse group of students - all of them staring at her. The text reads, It's not easy being Thao. 

What follows is a description of her name and the issues she had to deal with because of it. It's regularly misspelled. Sometimes it is accidentally mispronounced. More often, other children make fun of her because of it. 

Life with an English name would have been easier. At one point Thao contemplated becoming Jennifer. There is a page of text with a Jennifer doing all the things Thao would do during a day. Then she imagines her mother's gỏi cuốn (spring rolls), and leaves off wanting to be someone else. At the end of the book she finally teaches us to say and spell her name properly. 

The artwork, a combination of childhood photographs and cut paper collage, is full of angst, tenderness, and humour. This important book teaches readers awareness and empathy. It encourages other new immigrants to take pride in their own names and identity. 

Highly recommended.