IMWAYR July 15, 2024

Welcome! It's #IMWAYR time again, when bloggers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. These are fabulous places to start your search for what to read next.

I worked hard on a paper pieced unicorn quilt last week. I am determined to have it finished before the end of the month. I've had the pattern and most of the fabric for over a year. I started on it last spring but other projects got in the way. I need to get it completed before my granddaughter decides that she doesn't like unicorns anymore. 

The pile on the left are finished. I am almost finished the ones in the middle - just need to add the blue background fabric. I have yet to start the pile on the right.

In the process of that, (and weeding in the garden) I listened to a lot of audiobooks. 

At the same time as I was working on my projects, I travelled across time and space, made new literary friends, and came to understand the world and its denizens in new ways. I'm so thankful to be a reader. 

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.

PICTURE BOOKS

4 stars

Perla The Mighty Dog
by Isabel Allende & Sandy Rodriguez (Illustrator) May 28, 2024

Everyone needs a Perla in their life. Perla's super powers include making people love her and barking really loudly. Her boy, Nico Rico, is being bullied at school. Perla teaches him how to deal with his bully. 
I'm not really a dog person, but I fell in love with Perla. 

4 stars

MΓ©tis Like Me
by Tasha Hilderman & Risa Hugo (Illustrator) April 2, 2024 πŸ

What does it mean to be MΓ©tis? I'm not sure there is an American equivalent. The MΓ©tis here in Canada are a group of Indigenous people whose ancestors originate with the union of European men and Indigenous women. They have their unique history, culture, and even language. 
This book introduces us to a number of MΓ©tis children who tell us about their lives. Some of them are aware of their heritage, while others know next to nothing. No matter what, they are all MΓ©tis.

MG FICTION

5 stars

Tree. Table. Book.
by Lois Lowry & Hope Newhouse (Narrator) April 1, 2024

The two Sophies are best friends. Sophie Winslow is in elementary school while Sophie Gershowitz is 88. The elder Sophie is having memory trouble these days and her son is planning on moving her to a home near him. The younger Sophie is heartbroken. She comes up with a plan to test Sophie G. to show that she is competent. In the process we learn about her earlier life. 
Like all Lois Lowry novels, this one is full of brilliant characters aside from the main ones. The younger Sophie's other friends, Ralphie and Oliver are equally memorable. 
I loved this book. I'm sure that even if I wasn't already sucker for intergenerational relationships, I would have loved it. 
I was also terrified for Sophie Gershowitz. I'm now of age to have visited people living in the best kinds of care homes. Warehousing is not an ending I want for myself or anyone else I love. This book was a reminder to me of how imminent and important it is to find a better way. 

ADULT/YA FICTION


All the hype about this book is well deserved. I don't usually read family sagas but I was sucked into this from the first few pages.
It's filled with characters I took into my heart. I feel like I travelled back in time and made new friends. There are a couple of what seem at first to be disparate story lines. 
It begins with Mariamma, a 12 year old girl grieving the loss of her father, being married to a 40 year old man. I came to love this couple and all the other people who come into their lives in the next three generations. 
The other story lines are of different doctors. Dr. Rune Orquist ends up devoting his life to caring for leprosy patients. Digby Kilgour is a Scottish doctor who joined the Indian Medical Services. 
The lives of the different people intersect across time and come to a satisfying and heart wrenching conclusion at the end of the novel.


The best thing about historical fiction, is how much we can learn about times and places we previously knew next to nothing about. This is set in a small town near Philadelphia.
It begins in 1972 with the discovery of a skeleton and a mezuzah.  Then it takes us back to the 1930's. A Jewish immigrant, Moshe, meets and marries a young woman, Chona, whose father owns a grocery store in Chicken Hill, a Black, Jewish, and immigrant neighbourhood. When the rest of the Jewish community moves, they stay. Chona has become one of my favourite female protagonists, but all the women in this novel are remarkable: Addie Timblin, who helps out in the store; Patty Millison, AKA Paper, who knows all the news, and figures out how to get the kind of help they need to rescue Dodo, the young deaf boy trapped in Pennhurst, an insane asylum; and Miggy Fludd who works at Pennhurst. 
We discover eventually who the skeleton was and how it and the mezuzah ended up in the bottom of a well. It feels like justice, however erroneously, was meted out. 
This is a book about friendship, resilience, love and overcoming. I didn't want the book to end so I started it all over again. I've decided to read everything by James McBride that I can get my hands on. 


I don't generally like books where the mother dies, but this one was different. It focuses on on what her loss means to people close to her for the year after her death. It's told from three points of view, Ali, her daughter, her husband, Bill, and her best friend Annemarie.  Through them we see how the rest of the family is coping - or not coping. While there is grief, there's also growth as they all, especially Bill, have to take on the roles she once managed. 
In spite of the fact that nothing really happens, it's not an easy book to read. Ali discovers that her best friend, Jenny, is being abused by her father. Annemarie sinks back into addiction. 
I really appreciated how important therapy was for the children and Bill. 
I loved that all these people felt real - like the kind of family who might live on the same block as me. 

5 stars

The Warm Hands of Ghosts
by Katherine Arden, (Author and Narrator) and January Lavoy & Michael Crouch (Narrators) February 13, 2024

This fascinating story is told from the perspectives of two siblings caught up in the horror of WW1.
Laura Iven was a front line nurse until she was injured when her hospital was bombed and sent home. Shortly after arriving back in Halifax, two ships collided in the harbour. The ensuing explosion wiped out huge sections of the city and killed her mother and father. When she finds out that her brother, Freddie, has died she returns to Begium working in a private hospital to find what happened. 
Freddie almost died when he was trapped in an overturned pillbox with Hans Winter, a wounded German soldier. In the process of keeping each other alive and sane, the two of them bond. They manage to escape and go searching for Laura so that she can help Hans who was badly injured. Along the way they meet up with a mysterious man who can bring solace in the midst of all the terror. 
I became a Katherine Arden fan from reading The Bear and the Nightingale Trilogy. I ended up liking this book even more. I adored all these characters. I liked that while there is a bit of romance, it's a very small bit of the over all story. There is a plot twist near the end that took me completely by surprise!

CURRENTLY 

Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story by David Alexander Robertson & Scott B. Henderson (Illustrator) April 27, 2015 πŸ

Woke Up Like This by Amy Lea, Mindy Kaling (Introduction) September 5, 2023 πŸ

UP NEXT (MAYBE)

A Crane Among Wolves by June Hur
May 14, 2024 🍁

READING GOALS 

#MustRead2024 13/25 

NonFiction 20/24

Canadian Authors 38/50 two on the go

Indigenous Authors 18/25 one on the go

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 128/200   

#IMWAYR JULY 8, 2024

 Welcome! It's #IMWAYR time again, when bloggers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. These are fabulous places to start your search for what to read next.


We were lucky to have our sons and grandchildren visiting over the Canada Day long weekend. It meant lots of book sharing, snuggles, and fun! We had enjoyed collecting, washing and painting rocks. The best time was the afternoon we spent hanging out at the river. 



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.

PREVIOUS BLOG POST

PICTURE BOOKS

5 stars

Dipnetting with Dad
by Willie Sellars & Kevin Easthope (Illustrator) September 20, 2014  πŸ

This is told from a young boy' perspective. He is excited to be going with his grandfather and father for the first time to learn the Secwepemc method of fishing known as dipnetting. There's a lot to be done even before they get to the river. The nets have to be checked and any holes mended. After a traditional ceremony at the sweat lodge, they are on their way. 
A double page spread shows them taking a 'looky-loo' of another person dipnetting in the river. I'm not sure that my grandkids understood how dangerous this is, but I do, since my StΓ³꞉lō cousins who dipnet fish farther south, have lost family members to the river. 

At the bottom of the trail, the boy is tied to a hook bolted to the rock so that if he slips, he won't fall into the water. Dad fishes first and then it's the boy's turn. It takes a few tries, but soon he has his first salmon in the net, out of the river, and into the rock pit built for holding the fish. When they have caught enough fish, They take their sacks of fish home where the family wait in the yard for them to begin the next part. Everyone chips in to gut, wash, and prepare the fish for freezing and drying. 
This book was a hit with all the grandkids. We were all fascinated by the process, not only of the fishing, but of how the fish were dealt with once they got them home. I love how detailed this ends up being - not only the fishing part, but the whole process of smoking and drying the fish. I appreciate the humour that fills this story. It's there in the illustrations as well as in the text. I especially like that it shows us the connection between environment and culture and how it is integrated into all aspects of the family's life. 
Now I want to know Grandma's secret ingredient for making the tastiest smoked salmon around!

"Rooted in Indigenous teachings, this stunning picture book encourages readers of all ages to consider the ways in which they live in connection to the world around them and to think deeply about their behaviours."
This is more nonfiction than fiction. It's a book that focuses on connections, and how being a good ancestor means being aware of how our actions now can make a difference in the future. I really like how Carla Joseph's artwork helps makes these connections from small beginnings to global good. I like how the book progresses from concrete ideas of raindrops eventually becoming rivers, and rivers becoming life, to more abstract ideology of how thoughts can become ideas which can then become change. 



4 stars

Sweetgrass
by Theresa Meuse & Jessica Jerome (Illustrator) πŸ

Matthew and his Auntie are taking Warren sweetgrass picking for the first time. Readers learn along with Warren, what to wear, what to look for, how to harvest sweetgrass, and to remember to thank creation with their sacred medicine. Then when they return home, it's time to clean and braid it. We come to understand the importance of sweetgrass, and how it is used in indigenous cultures across Turtle Island.
I admired Jessica Jerome's artwork. The book is text heavy, so it would make a good read aloud for younger readers. 

NON FICTION PICTURE BOOKS


This is a deeply philosophical book about what it means to walk together in a good way not only with other people, but also with the land and the creatures who live upon it. Emily Kewageshig's illustrations are truly stunning. 




The book was inspired by the teachings of the Mi'kmaq spiritual leader Chief Charles Labrador, who said, "Go into the forest, you see the Birch, Maple, Pine. Look underground and all those trees are holding hands. We as people must do the same."

YA/ADULT GRAPHIC NOVEL MEMOIR


Zeina Abirached takes us to East Beirut, 1984, the Christian side of the civil war in Lebanon. Her memoir shows us what life was like for ordinary people caught up in conflict beyond their control. 
Zeina's parents have gone to visit her grandmother, Annie, who lives a few blocks away and left her and her younger brother home alone. A barrage of shelling has kept them there. The family had moved into the foyer of their apartment. It was the only safe place to be should the building be bombarded. While the parents are away, other members of the building join the children. When each person arrives, we learn their back story. As the evening progresses we come to understand that even if their parents never make it home, the children will be well loved and cared for. 
When the entire household has arrived, the tension in the space begins to build. A phone call from the grandmother says the parents left for home an hour ago. One of the household, Chucri, heads out in search of them. Thus begins an intolerable time of waiting.
This book is stunningly beautiful. I was blown away in the very first frames by the patterns in black and white. I had no background knowledge about this civil war, so before I went much further, I went and read a bit about it. When I came back to the book, these patterned images made much more sense to me. I appreciated the forward by Trina Robbins, and the new afterward by the author. 
If you are a fan of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, then you must read this. 
 
ADULT/YA FICTION

3 stars

The Sunset Years of Agnes Sharp
by Leonie Swann, Amy Bojang (Translator) & Moira Quirk (Narrator)

I wasn’t sure about this book to start with. At first it seemed like just a take on the Thursday Murder Club books. 
Agnes and her friend Lillian set up Sunset Manor as a home for seniors so they have a place to live at the end of their lives and don’t end up in some kind of drugged out stasis in a care home. The story begins with a missing gun and a dead body in the garden shed. Then the police show up to tell them that there has been a murder next-door. Agnes, who is a former police inspector decides they will find out who the murderer is and pin Lillian's death on them.
Parts of this were hokey, but in spite of that, I ended up getting sucked right into this this story. Agnes is an interesting character. I was fascinated as her back history emerged, especially upon discovering that she isn’t a very reliable narrator on top of her issues related to aging. There are some totally ludicrous events that I’m not sure did anything other than provide black comedic relief. They certainly didn’t bring the plot forward, although it did provide more information about the other members of the house. 

ADULT/YA FICTION


I fell in love with Siddhartha Mukherjee's writing in The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human, so of course I had to read more of his work. Siddhartha Mukherjee is a natural story teller who makes complicated subjects easy to comprehend. I appreciate how he integrates his personal and cultural background, as well as social context, into his books about science. This was published in 2016, so a lot has happened in the world of genetics since then. It's still worth reading for the detailed overview of history alone. 
This is my second big book for Sue Jackson's Big Book Summer Read Challenge.

CURRENTLY 

The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese May 2, 2023

Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story by David Alexander Robertson & Scott B. Henderson (Illustrator) April 27, 2015 πŸ

After Annie by Anna Quindlen & Gilli Messer (Narrator)

UP NEXT (MAYBE)

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride & Dominic Hoffman (Narrator) August 8th 2023

READING GOALS 

#MustRead2024 13/25 

NonFiction 20/24

Canadian Authors 37/50 one on the go

Indigenous Authors 17/25 one on the go

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 121/200  

FIRST FRIDAY POETRY JULY 2024

I'm joining Beverly A Baird & Linda Schueler in a "year long poetry practice – on the first Friday of each Month," when we, and anyone else who joins, writes a poem and pairs it up with a photo relating to it.

Last year for my birthday my sons purchased a MasterClass subscription. To be honest, at first I didn't do much except watch cooking lessons. Recently I completed a reading and writing poetry course with Billy Collins. The following poem is influenced by those sessions and an afternoon hanging out at the river with my son and his two children. 


the river

i don’t really want to go,
but it’s the grandkids last day
so we hike along the path
to the swimming hole

almost knee deep,
the sweet scented,  
olive green current
caresses my calves,
cools
 me down

lurking near the large rock
a two foot long
bass, carp, or trout,
(it's too early for sockeye)
dissolves into shadows

across the water
a duo of swallowtails swoop
among tree tops

high above the river,
a couple of
dragonflies
arc, dive, spin, and soar
aeronauts engaged in
the ancient dance
of romance

undaunted by the children splashing,
damselflies
skim across the river surface

a pair of them
alight
for one iridescent blue moment
on my knee

#IMWAYR June 24, 2024

Welcome! It's #IMWAYR time again, when bloggers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. These are fabulous places to start your search for what to read next.

We have had an abundance of guests in the last couple of weeks. My cousin visited and we celebrated our birthdays. Hers is in May, and mine is coming up. My baby brother arrives today and will be here to celebrate with my other baby brother who shares a birthday with me. Both my 'little' brothers are now over six feet... 

I haven't planted much new in the garden because I have been busy keeping the weeds under control, harvesting peas and greens and picking raspberries. When my cousin was here I found a recipe for raspberry daiquiris and between the 21 jars of jelly that we made and those drinks, I've almost cleaned out the frozen berries from last year.  

Here in Canada, June is Indigenous People's month. I've been trying to focus on Indigenous and Native American literature. I hope you find something here to enjoy. 

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.

PICTURE BOOKS

5 stars

Muinji'j Asks Why: The Story of the Mi'kmaq and the Shubenacadie Residential School
by Shanika MacEachern, Breighlynn MacEachern, Zeta Paul (Illustrator)
 πŸ

This is more like an illustrated short story than a picture book because the pages are quite text heavy. 
Muinji'j comes home from school and tells her grandparents that her teacher wouldn't let her say anything about their stories of residential school. They sit together and the grandparents tell the history of colonization from their perspective. I really appreciate that not only do readers learn about the elders residential school experience, they also learn the historical context for why and how it came about. 

NON FICTION PICTURE BOOKS


This delightful book is chock full of all kinds of important information. The graphic novel format with different talking species makes it fun to read. It starts with a tree falling and beginning its new life as a nurse log. It explains what happens in the spring of the first year, then moves on to summer, year ten, when a new fir tree gets a foothold. Then it jumps forward to autumn, year 100 to show how the nurse log still supports a host of plants and animals. Meanwhile, that "fir tree grew tall with roots that stretched over the nurse log." Next we see the tree in the winter 500 years after it first toppled. The log has almost disappeared. The fir tree now reaches for the sky. In the spring, year 1000, there is no sign of the nurse tree. "In its place now, the giant fir tree stands and stretches to the sun." Finally, what happened to the original tree happens to this one, and the cycle begins anew. I read this to a group of grade 3/4's last week and they especially enjoyed seeing the change over time. 


This is the finale in a series I adore. Jaxon is a young black boy who was apprenticing to be a witch before he discovered his connection to a phoenix. Ultimately this book is about a search for peace between human and magical realms. In the previous book, the Supreme Council appointed Jaxon to be the ambassador to Palmara, (the magical realm.) He and his friends set out to negotiate with Sis, the Guardian there. They succeeded in destroying the enchanted bridge, but not before Scourge, a magic eating monster, crosses over into Palmara. He fought Sis, defeated her, but didn't finish her off.
Scourge claims that he wants to live among the rest of the inhabitants of Palmara in peace. Most don't believe him, but Vic, one of Jaxon's friends, believes it's possible and works with Scourge to find alternative sources of magic. 
Then Ol-Korrok shows up with nefarious plans of his own. He manipulates Scourge into going to the human realm and feasting on the magic there. Before the story is over, there is be a war between the witches and Scourge. 
I love that this series has a diverse cast of characters. While the first book focuses on Jaxon, the following stories highlight the roles his friends play. 
I was fascinated by Scourge's addiction to magic, and that Vic and his Spiders were able to remember a time in history when Scourge didn't need it. I hoped he could be redeemed, but Ol-Korrok's hold over him was too strong. 
I mostly enjoyed this, but aspects of the ending just didn't work for me. Ol-Korrok's transformation felt rushed and didn't make sense - especially given that he had barely finished encouraging Scourge to take the rest of the magical world on. 
Perhaps it is because I had a sister with mental health and addiction issues, but as I read this novel, I couldn't help but make parallels between Scourge's desire for magic, and an individual dealing with drug addiction, and even the crisis of addiction more generally. 

I adore the artwork in this book almost as much as I do the story itself. The story begins with a Japanese man coming to a northern museum to repatriate a suit of armor and sword. The curator is happy to return the armor to its family of origin, but the sword has been taken. A young boy who is visiting the museum takes the man to where the sword should be. A battle ensues and the Japanese man is badly hurt. They young boy gets the injured man to his grandmother who ends up healing him. Eventually she helps get the sword returned to him without bloodshed. 
I really appreciated that it is the elder who manages to bring peace and heal all the combatants. I especially loved these Dene Laws. 

This book takes a comprehensive look at the causes and consequences of inequality. It's fairly global in outlook but focuses primarily on OECD countries. I really like
the layout.  As you can see from the Table of Contents, it is organized into three main sections. The book is loaded with all kinds of text features to make the information easier to understand. It includes graphs, illustrations, labeled diagrams, side bars, and fact boxes. I appreciate that many of the latter tell the story of real people. Each Chapter has a section at the end called The Takeaway, that reviews the important ideas presented. It also includes a section called Learn More! that presents links to other places and people if you wish to expand your knowledge. 
The final section is important as it takes young readers through many ways that they can get involved in changing their world, even if they are too young to vote. 
If I was still working in the library, I would purchase a copy of this book. If I was working in a secondary school, I'd purchase two. 
 
ADULT/YA FICTION

5+ stars

Warrior Girl Unearthed
by Angeline Boulley & Isabella Star LaBlanc (Narrator)

Angeline Boully's first novel, Firekeeper's Daughter, was one of the best books I read in 2021. Warrior Girl Unearthed will be in my top 10 this year.
Perry Firekeeper-Birch is niece to Daunis, the protagonist from the first book. The story is set ten years later. Perry is into fishing, hunting, gardening and hanging out with elders and telling stories. A minor automobile accident ends up with her working as a summer intern to pay Daunis for the cost of the repairs. She starts out working in the tribal museum. A meeting at the nearby college introduces her to artifacts that ought to be returned to the band. Cooper Turtle, her mentor, tries to instil an ethical way of living in Perry, but she's impulsive, strong willed, and doesn't understand why things need to be done in a proper way if the ending is the same.
Perry and other interns end up planning a heist to take back a collection of stolen remains from a local white man. They soon learn that it's more dangerous than they first anticipated and that many people can't be trusted. 
I appreciate how much I learned about NAGPRA. I ended up searching to see what we have like it in Canada. I was delighted to see that recent changes to NAGPRA require institutions to obtain permission from tribes to display remains and cultural objects. This has forced museums to shut down Indigenous sections of their exhibits. Hopefully it will mean that those artifacts will be returned to their owners. Unfortunately, Canada has no such laws in place. 
I liked the bit of romance between Perry and another intern, Erik. It felt authentic and healthy. Most importantly, it was a minimal part of the story. 
Just like in the last book, I loved the elders. I especially enjoy the humour they bring. 


This book won the Giller Prize in Canada and was shortlisted for the 2023 Booker. It doesn't have a plot, but I couldn't put it down. When I finished it, I still wasn't sure what was going on. It's a dark book that examines power dynamics, racism, and groupthink. 
An unnamed, and unreliable, narrator leaves her job to go to some unknown countryside to live with her older brother. He expects her to submit to looking after him and his house. Not only does she do this, she seems to consider it an ideal she must achieve.
She is the youngest of a large Jewish family. It is never out in the open, but there are hints of what might have been a previous incestuous relationship between the two siblings. Neither of them are very likeable.
The local people fear her and hold her responsible for the unusual troubles of local livestock. It might be because she is Jewish, but the crafted gifts of greenery woven into men that she leaves on their doorsteps most likely exacerbates things. 
For me this book was a reminder of how dangerous group paranoia can be. In a different time the narrator could easily be accused of witchcraft. 


The Ex Hex
by Erin Sterling
September 28, 2021

I could not finish this book. It had too much sex and not enough story. I stuck around for longer that I should have because I wanted to know how the hex problem was resolved. I ended up giving up. 

CURRENTLY 

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee June 2, 2016

A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return by Zeina Abirached, Edward Gauvin (Translator), Trina Robbins (Introduction) October 22, 2007

Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story by David Alexander Robertson & Scott B. Henderson (Illustrator) April 27, 2015 πŸ

UP NEXT (MAYBE)

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu February 1, 2022 πŸ

READING GOALS 

#MustRead2024 12/25 

NonFiction 18/24 one on the go

Canadian Authors 37/50 one on the go

Indigenous Authors 15/25 one on the go

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 114/200  

#IMWAYR June 10, 2024

Welcome! It's #IMWAYR time again, when bloggers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. These are fabulous places to start your search for what to read next.


I hope you all had a fabulous reading week. I sure did!

I almost have the garden under control, but of course, this is always just a temporary illusion. We have started eating the lettuce and by next week this time we will be eating raspberries from the garden. I'm not really getting enough peas to make into a meal, but personally I prefer just picking them and eating them anyway. I purchased some more flower boxes at a yard sale so I get to go to the nursery again to find more things to plant. I'm considering just putting strawberries in them. My grandkids will be delighted. 

I needed motivation to do a good house cleaning so we had people over for supper on the weekend. 

I find that if I have a book in my head the time just flies by and I accomplish much more than I thought I would. What do people who don't listen to audiobooks do when they are cleaning house or gardening? 

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.

PREVIOUS BLOG POST

PICTURE BOOKS

4 stars

Let's Go!
by Julie Flett May 7, 2024 πŸ

Let's Go pays homage to skateboarding, skateboarders, and their community. It's the story of a young boy who longingly watches the skateboarders "'cacussh! cacussh!" past his window. Eventually his mother brings him her skateboard from when she was his age. When he finally gets to the skate park, he is overwhelmed by so many riders on their boards. Then a couple of other boarders sit with him. They watch until they feel brave enough to join the crowd. Later on the boy supports another new boarder in the same way.
I appreciate that Flett shows us that it takes time and practice to get good at skateboarding. 
I also appreciated the author's note at the end of book where she talks about being inspired by her son and his skateboarding experience.

3.5 stars

The Sasquatch, the Fire and the Cedar Baskets
by Joseph Dandurand & Dionne Paul (Illustrations) June 6, 2020 πŸ

A lonely young sasquatch grows up on his own after the death of his parents in a flood. He forages for food and hangs out with bears during the salmon run. After he grows up he meets a young female sasquatch. The two of them pair up and have a child. The lady sasquatch created thousands of cedar baskets that they filled with water and left around the forest. When a forest fire eventually came, the sasquatch poured the baskets of water over it until the fire was out. 
I like the juxtaposition of traditional art with photographs of real life. These illustrations connect the story to the land and hints at all kinds of spirits the land holds. Although I like these illustrations, I think the story might just work better being read out loud to children. Joseph Danduand is a poet and gifted story teller. His words are all you really need. You can listen to him read this here

4 stars

Benny the Bananasaurus Rex
by Sarabeth Holden & Emma Pedersen (Illustrator) April 4, 2023 πŸ

The only thing Benny, the tyrannosaurus rex, likes more than dinosaurs, is bananas. He is warned that if he eats too many bananas he will turn into one. Benny isn't worried. He happily devours his bananas in many different iterations. From banana pancakes, to banana, peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, to tacos with fried bananas and banana peppers, Benny just can't get enough. Then one morning Benny wakes up and discovers he has turned into a bananasaurus rex! Benny couldn't be happier!
The book is a fun read. Both the illustrations and text are full of puns.

When you pick up a Kay O'Neill graphic novel, you know you will be immersed in an enchanted reality that includes a coming of age tale wherein truths about being human and living your best life will be revealed. They didn't let me down here. 
Anya is learning to be a Moth Keeper. The job entails looking after the lunar moths that allow the Night-Lily flower to bloom once a year. The flower is essential for her community to survive. Eventually Anya is capable enough to guard the lunar moths on her own. Then one night, she falls asleep and the moths go missing. I deeply appreciated that even though Anya blamed herself, the community did not. They saw it as their failure to support her when she needed them. I really wish the real world was more like this. 
As I read this book I realized that as much as I love graphic novels, I depend a lot on text. This book has pages and pages of wordless panels. I had to slow down and focus on what was happening in the images more than usual. I'm so glad to have been forced to do this. I think I appreciated Anya's loneliness and heartache more deeply because of it. 

5 stars

As I Enfold You in Petals
 (The Spirit of Denendeh #2) by Richard Van Camp, Scott B. Henderson (Illustrator), Nickolej Villiger (Letterer), Donovan Yaciuk (Colorist) April 25, 2023 🍁

Curtis, an Inuit young man realizes he has to get sober and heal himself. He knows that to succeed, he needs to heal his people. In order to do this, he needs the help of the little people. Before this, he must get a powerful crime leader on his side. Ultimately, in order to heal, they must all help each other. 
This is the second indigenous title I've read that talks about little people. I picked it up because when I was young, my Menominee grandmother used to talk about the little people. I thought she meant fairies and elves. Since then I've discovered that many Indigenous groups have stories of little people. 
The realistic artwork in this graphic novel is gorgeous.  A lot is packed into such a few pages. It's an emotional read that ends on a note of hope. I am impressed by how rich and complicated the characters are in such a short graphic novel. 


I enjoyed this book as much, if not more than Legends and Lattes. This one features a book store so I might have appreciated it a wee bit more. I especially loved the epilogue!
This prequel tells us more about Viv, the owner of the coffee shop in Legends and Lattes.  After being wounded during the hunt for a powerful necromancer, she was left behind in the village of Murk to heal. Viv ends up spending time in a rundown bookshop, befriending Fern, the owner, and helping her spruce up the shop and turn it into a thriving business. In the process Viv learns to love books and reading. She has a bit of a romance with the town baker, a dwarf named Maylee. When she is mostly healed, Viv, Gallina, another fighter, and a skeleton homunculus, head out into the country to deal with a nest of monsters. While away they discover evidence that the necromancer is much closer. 
I love that this series is populated mostly by women. There are some male characters, but all the significant ones are female. I love that it is about friendship, acceptance, and helping each other out. I appreciated the energy of the battle scenes. I adore the little griffin, Potroast, who brings humour into the tensest of moments. 


"Robert Morris Sapolsky is an American academic, neuroscientist, and primatologist. He is the John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor at Stanford University, and is a professor of biology, neurology, and neurosurgery. His research has focused on neuroendocrinology, particularly relating to stress."
I read Determined: A Science of Life without Free Will in January of this year. I have questioned the notion of free will since my teens, and in that book Sapolsky provided scientific reasoning that supported my thinking. I immediately put a hold on Behave at my local library.
In Behave, he explains in much greater detail the science behind why we do the things we do. Our understanding of human behaviour has come a long way since I took psychology courses at university in the 1970s! This brilliant book reads like a modern textbook outlining the multiple factors involved in why humans and other primates act the way they do. The short answers might be: it depends and it's complicated.
At 790 pages, (26 hours) it's a long book. I promise you it's worth it. Behave is one of, if not the best, nonfiction book I've ever read. I didn't want it to end. 
If this book isn't on your radar, it really should be. 



CURRENTLY

More Than Money: How Economic Inequality Affects Everything by Dyer, Hadley πŸ

The War of the Witches by Zetta Elliot  πŸ

A Blanket of Butterflies by Richard Van Camp, Scott B. Henderson (Illustrator), Nickolej Villiger (Letterer), Donovan Yaciuk (Colorist) October 20, 2015  πŸ

UP NEXT (MAYBE)

Study for Obedience by Sarah Bernstein  πŸ

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu πŸ

READING GOALS 

#MustRead2024 12/25 

NonFiction 17/24 one on the go

Canadian Authors 32/50 three on the go

Indigenous Authors 12/25 one on the go

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 98/200