#IMWAYR December 9, 2019

#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.



With Christmas approaching faster than I would like, I'm either listening to an audiobook, or rewatching Father Brown on Netflix while I'm busy sewing and knitting. 

Titles with a ๐Ÿ indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

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

RECENT BLOG POSTS

Poetry Friday: Life Long Distance: Dialogue Poems by Robert Heidbreder

PICTURE BOOKS


4 stars
Where's Prancer? by Syd Hoff

I've been reading this classic with my grandkids these days. We love the sparse text and humorous illustrations.


5 stars
Maisy's Christmas Eve by Lucy Cousins

Poor Eddie, the elephant, gets lost in the snow on his way to Maisy's house. My two and a half year old granddaughter and I have been reading this for the last couple of months. She pretty much tells the story to me these days and makes me respond to her questions, Is that Eddie?

GRAPHIC


4 stars
Camp (Click #2) by Kayla Miller

When two best friends go to camp, their desires to follow their individual passions ends up creating conflict.
I was impressed by how the camp councillors monitored the pair’s emotional states and manage to intervene at the right moment. I also appreciated how the two girls managed to negotiate their way back into each other’s worlds.


4 stars
Stargazing by Jen Wang & Lark Pien (Colorist)

There are a lot of fabulous graphic novels around today that address the issue of how to be a friend. This is one of them. Moon and Christine are unlikely best friends. When Christine becomes jealous of Moon's increasing popularity, she does something she ends up regretting. I loved the diverse characters in this book. I loved the supportive adults. I'm going to confess here that all these friendship issue novels have helped me see my own adolescent more clearly and enabled me to forgive others and myself.

NOVELS


4 stars
American War by Omar El Akkad & Dion Graham (Narrator) ๐Ÿ

I resisted this one for a while because I anticipated it would be full of horrific scenes. It is, but then, aren't all wars full of hell? It tells the tale of a futuristic civil war in American brought about through the south's refusal to abandon fossil fuels, and the meddling of foreign agents. It is a profound look at how war strips the humanity from all of us. If you are looking for a feel good book, this isn't it. It's an important look at where we all might be headed if we don't start dealing with climate change ASAP.

POETRY


4 stars
Sea Stars: Saltwater Poems by Avis Harley & Margaret Butschler (Photographer) ๐Ÿ

Gorgeous photographs of ocean life are accompanied by delightful poetry. The back matter contains information about the species in the images.


5 stars
Life Long Distance: Dialogue Poems by Robert Heidbreder ๐Ÿ

I adored this collection of poetry. The voice is so profound, it was like visiting with my mother in law and her bridge and coffee clutch gals. So many times I just laughed out loud. I had to read bits out loud to my partner, commenting, “Doesn’t this remind you of.......” These are lines of pure sweet magic. Go read my blog post if you want to read a bit from it. 

NONFICTION


4 stars
Science Comics: Polar Bears: Survival on the Ice (Science Comics) by Jason Viola & Zack Giallongo (Illustrations)

A fictional story of two polar bear cubs is interspersed with factual information about their habitat and life cycle. What I appreciated most was how the authors made clear how climate change affects these animals.

CURRENTLY

I've restarted Dig by A. S. King, I'm listening to The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys. I'm also in the middle of African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways by Avis Harley and Rocket to the Moon! by Don Brown,

UP NEXT
I'm hoping to get to Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience and Spin by Colleen Nelson.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

How exciting is this? I have reached nearly all my reading goals!

#MustReadIn2018 25/25 - one in progress

#MustReadNFIn2018 11/12 - one in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 25/25

25 books by Canadian Authors 94/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 399/333

#PoetryFriday December 6, 2019: Life Long Distance

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Tanita S. Davis at [fiction, instead of lies]. If you are interested in The New Year’s Poetry Challenge, check out the information on her page.

Don't forget to check out the links to other participants sharing poetry today.

I had big plans to write a blog post on the winners of the CBC poetry prize this week. Two important things got in the way. First, I didn't finish reading the entries, and second, I finished this collection of poetry by Robert (Bob) Heidbreder. He wrote it after the death of his mother - claims it was the best grief counselling ever.


I adored it! It was like visiting with my mother in law and her bridge and coffee klatsch gals. These are lines of pure, sweet magic.

Each poem has the name of a person, place, or event. They contain the idle gossip of small town life all the while revealing a portrait of community and friendship among a group of elderly women.

Some poems are risquรฉ. Others are heartbreaking. There are repeated announcements of another death. Those hit me hard because I remember my mother in law and my own mother going through loss after loss. I'm of an age where this is beginning, and I am still young compared to the elderly friends in the book.

The poems shine with Bob's trademark humour. I laughed out loud throughout the collection.


I had to read bits out loud to my husband, Randy, claiming, “Doesn’t this remind you of .......”

I cried at the end.
I feel like I’m missing someone I never met.

 Bob has given me permission to share this poem in it's entirety with you all. It captures the essence of the entire collection.

Water Exercises

We got a new girl at the Y,
for the water exercises.
She works us too hard.
We don’t feel like going for a coffee
and a roll after.
We're too tired.

Well, today she went to far.
Asked us to put our faces in the water
and kick – KICK without holding on.

So none of us did it,
just stood in the water
and tried to stare her under.

(You don’t go to these exercises
to get your hair all wet.
Lots of us just got it fixed yesterday
and maybe we got bridge today.
You can’t go looking all straggly and strung out.
They’ll think you’re letting yourself go,
like the ministers wife – no wonder,
I say, married to him, no wonder.)

And kicking without a board,
or holding onto the side!
Why, land’s sakes, she’d have a floating cemetery
in the pool – right like those graves
down by the river.
Come the spring thaw
when the river rises,
some of the caskets go floating off –
Lulumae's seen them from her river camp –
down south.
Some even got snakes on them,
hitching a ride
to the swamps.

Well that Lecky marched up to the gal after
and told her to get with it or get out.
(You know, Lecky, real bossy,
a plain-out speaker, but grew up hard.)

The girl starts to cry.
I kind of felt for her.
She’s young.
What does she know about growing old?
What does she know – yet?

So we all took her out for a coffee
and bun after,
all but Lecky.
She had to get her hair fixed –
the colour’s coming out:
she washes it too much, we figure.

© Robert Heidbreder

My interview with Bob is here if you want to know more about him.

#IMWAYR December 2, 2019

#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 screwed up big time this week. I thought my book club was later on in the month. We are reading The Boys in the Boat. By Sunday morning, I hadn't started it. There is no way I could plow through 400+ pages of tiny print in 24 hours. I downloaded the YA version to read since it isn't so long.

Titles with a ๐Ÿ indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

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

RECENT BLOG POSTS

#IMWAYR November 24, 2019 - Crow Magic

PICTURE BOOKS

5 stars
The Ranger by Nancy Vo ๐Ÿ

I was intrigued by the cover of this book. Then I fell in love with the first couple of pages. The first shows only a genderless silhouette and the words, "Once there was a ranger. The next page shows an image of a girl and the words, "Her name was Annie." Annie finds a fox who is in a bad way, rescues it, and in turn the two become friends. What we readers eventually come to understand is that friendship is not about keeping score, it's about supporting each other when we need help without any expectation of payment.

Sparse text accompanies Nancy Vo's glorious mixed media artwork in both of these two picture books.



5 stars
The Outlaw by Nancy Vo ๐Ÿ

An outlaw terrifies a town with his misdeeds. Eventually he leaves. Years later a stranger arrives and begins mending parts of the rundown town. In time he is recognized as the outlaw. This book makes you question. Can he be forgiven? Can he be redeemed? Is it enough that he is making amends? I'm itching to read it to a group of students to see what they think.

4 stars
Truman by Jean Reidy & Lucy Ruth Cummins (Illustrator)

I love the vintage feel to the illustrations in this book. When Sarah leaves their apartment and is away for a very long time (in turtle time.) Truman, the turtle decides to go after her. The book has lots of math potential. It would also be fun to create a map of where Truman eventually went.

4 stars
The Circle of Caring and Sharing by Theresa Larsen-Jonasson & Jessika Von Innerebner ๐Ÿ (Illustrations)

This beautiful little book, written in rhyming poetry, shows us how important it is to tell our stories and share what we know. It's the best way to deal with conflict.

4 stars
Listen by Holly M. McGhee & Pascal Lemaรฎtre (Illustrations)

I like the idea of this book. It's about how we are all connected to each other and the world around us. It's a reminder to slow down and pay attention. Maybe if we do, we can hear that we are all part of the same heartbeat.

5 stars
What Riley Wore by Elana K. Arnold & Linda Davick (Illustrator)

Riley is a character you will adore. Riley wears whatever will help get through the day.
I was delighted by the ending. When asked. "Are you a girl or a boy?"
Riley replied.
"Today I'm a firefighter.
And a dancer.
And a monster hunter.
And a pilot.
And a dinosaur."

GRAPHIC

4 stars
Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

It was wonderful seeing both these characters working together to save earth from some evil giants. I appreciated that while at first Lily was wary of Zita, the two of them end up close friends. I also like that all those secondary characters end up doing important work. It's a truly collaborative action.

NOVELS

4 stars
The Nest by Kenneth Oppel & Jon Klassen (Illustrator) ๐Ÿ

This is truly terrifying. At the same time it's a deep philosophical examination of what it means to be human. It's about love and acceptance.

4 stars
A Boy Is Not a Bird by Edeet Ravel ๐Ÿ

This is the first in a trilogy about an eleven year old Jewish boy growing in the Ukraine. Natt’s life was comfortable up until 1940. Then the Russians arrived. Bit by bit things change. They are removed from their house. His father is arrested. Eventually he and his mother are rounded up and sent to Siberia. They are on the train when the novel ends.
I appreciated reading about this aspect of history and am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

4 stars
Dual Citizens by Alix Ohlin ๐Ÿ

This is a story of two sisters, Lark and Robin, and their absent Mother. Lark, the eldest, ends up raising Robin, a piano prodigy. The two girls are very close. When Lark goes away to school, their mother takes up with a man who has designs on Robin. She leaves home to join Lark. The two end up going separate ways, but in the end, are there for each other. I appreciated how rich all these characters are. As we learn more about the Mother, we come to understand what life was like for her and come to see that she did the best she could.

5 stars
Over the Moon by Natalie Lloyd & Cassandra Morris (Narrator)

Mallie's life in her coal mining town is hard. When the opportunity arises for her to make a lot of money and pay off her family's debt, she disguises herself as a boy, and sets off. Mallie soon learns of a conspiracy to keep their families impoverished and obedient. 
This is a beautifully crafted book that looks at gender expectations and explores power dynamics and politics. It's a profound story that begs to be discussed.

NONFICTION 

4 stars
The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust by Karen Gray Ruelle & Deborah Durland DeSaix

This is a fascinating account of how the Muslim community in Paris came to the aid of Jews and other people during the Second World War. There is a lot of text on each page so it will work best with intermediate and older readers. The art is spectacular!

5 stars
The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics by 
Daniel James Brown & Gregory Mone (Adaptor)


This was riveting! I had to take a short break to deal with the details of life, but mostly finished the book in one sitting! It's the story of how a group of young men, most from difficult situations, became the fastest rowers in the world. They won the gold medal at the Olympics in Germany in 1936. It focuses on the life of Joe Rantz and goes back in forth in time from his rough early years to his time on the crew. I am really looking forward to the movie! Check out the book trailer below!



CURRENTLY

I started Dig by A. S. King, but had put it on hold to read The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics. I'm listening to American War by by Omar El Akkad. Dion Graham's narration is brilliant!

UP NEXT

I've got a collection of graphic novels I want to finish up. I plan to get back to Dig and on to Ink Knows No Borders.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

How exciting is this? I have reached nearly all my reading goals!

#MustReadIn2018 25/25

#MustReadNFIn2018 11/12 - one in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 25/25

25 books by Canadian Authors 91/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 391/333

Poetry Friday November 29, 2019


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Bridget Magee at wee words for wee ones. She's sharing her experiences of trying to host a Thanksgiving dinner in Switzerland where she now lives. Don't miss her turkey poem!

Don't forget to check out the links to other participants sharing poetry today.

I have been contemplating Michelle Barne's Little Ditty challenge since the beginning of the month. I thought playing around with language would be simple. After all, I do it a lot with my grandchildren!

My husband and I are lucky to live with my son, his wife, and Ada, their two year old daughter. When Ada and I are out and about together, we mess around with language. Some of this is about rhyming games I create to help her pronounce words more clearly. Other times it’s for the shear joy of basking in our magical power over words and sounds. Recently while we were traveling in the car she entertained herself by creating her her own rhyme. I heard her sing song chanting roly poly, roly poly, roly poly. Then she shouted from her car seat, "I did it! See Gramma! I did it!" She played with those words while I beamed with pride and listened  intently from my driver's seat. It ended up something like this.

roly poly
roly poly
roly roly poly
roly roly poly
up up up
down down down
roly poly
roly poly
roly roly poly
roly roly poly
round and round

by Ada aged 28 months

It wasn't until later that I realized it was her version of a song she learned in story time at the library. I still think she's brilliant.

Soon after Kate O'Neil's challenge I was walking to my car in the Costco parking lot. The late afternoon light emanated a scene from The Birds. Sky, bushes and trees were thronging with cawing crows. Watching them congregate on their daily migration home in the evenings is an ordinary occurrence here, but I have never been in the middle of it before. Experts estimate that between 13,000 to 20,000 crows converge at the rookery near where I was. The following video gives you a sense of what it's like. 



After gazing starstruck by the spectacle, I crawled into my car and scribbled a collection of words. It still took what seems like forever to come up with this draft.

Crow Magic

it’s a caw caw caw
cawcophony
of crows

it’s a caw caw caw
cawnjure
of corvids

it’s a caw caw caw
cawreening
cawnga line

it’s a swoop loop troop
whooping
home to bed

it's a caw caw caw
cawniferous
cradle

it's a sh sh sh
shnoozing
roost of crows

Happy Thanksgiving to all you American contributors to Poetry Friday!




#IMWAYR November 24, 2019

#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.


Last weekend my partner and I took one of my sons and our two grandkids away for a few days. I discovered that when you put three adults and two two year olds together for four days, the toddlers win. I got no reading done whatsoever except for the audiobook I listened to while travelling.

Before we left I attended the Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable's Illustrator’s Breakfast. It was a tribute to Sheila Barry, a beloved publisher and editor at Groundwood Books. I enjoyed all the different speakers. I also bid on a number of book collections and art work in the silent auction. I came home to discover that I had purchased three of those collections. I still haven't had a chance to go through them to see what I ended up with.

Titles with a ๐Ÿ indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

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


RECENT BLOG POSTS

Poetry Friday November 22, 2019 - A poem for my father. 

PICTURE BOOKS

5 stars
Mustafa by Marie-Louise Gay ๐Ÿ

Right from the dedication, For Sheila Barry, I knew this book would be an emotional read. It is the story of a young boy, Mustafa, whose family have travelled a long way to come to a new country. He has nightmares about the smoke and fire and loud noises of the country they left. His mother wakes him to look at the same moon that they saw there. Then he can sleep.
In his new country Mustafa explores the park beside where he lives. So much of it reminds him of his old life. He watches the world around him but feels invisible as no one seems to acknowledge his presence. Eventually a young girl and her cat befriend him and Mustafa begins to learn a new language.
It is a beautiful story, but the art is absolutely stunning. The autumn image is my absolute favourite. Mustafa wonders if this is magic, and if the old lady talking to the birds is the magician. I too wish I could speak bird language.

5 stars
How to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps by Nicola Winstanley ๐Ÿ& John Martz (Illustrator)  ๐Ÿ

I've been reading this with my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter over and over this week. I'm not sure she gets the humour since we don't have a cat, but she likes it. So do I.

I've started sharing some of my vintage picture books with the grandkids. Aside from cautioning them to be very careful with them, they and I have been enjoying reading these two wordless picture books. I was nervous that the fox in the first book, and the wolf in the second, would cause nightmares, but it seems to bother me more than them.

5 stars
What Whiskers Did by Ruth Carroll (1965)

This was first published in in 1932. This illustrations in the 1965 edition are much different from the earlier version. These are in colour and the original were in black and white. I love this wordless picture book. So do my grandkids. We've been 'reading' it over and over and over. Whiskers is Scottish Terrier. He and his girl are out for a walk in the snow when Whiskers' leash breaks and he takes off following some rabbit tracks. He has quite the adventures before finally making his way home again. If you can find a copy to read, It is delightful. Don't you love the expression on these little bunnies faces?

5 stars
The Adventures of Paddy Pork by John S. Goodall (1968)

Paddy is a young pig who takes off from his mother to follow the circus. He has some dangerous misadventures before finding his way home again. The interesting thing about this book is that each double spread has a half page to turn that reveals more of the story. I hope you can find a copy of this one to read. I'm sharing a couple of pages below so you can see the detail in the art.




GRAPHIC

4 stars
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks ๐Ÿ (Illustrator)

I was hooked by the first chapter of this novel after I read it from Netgalley. As much as I loved it, I wasn't prepared to rate it based on only one peek. At last, I've read the whole thing. It is delightful. It's full of humor, charm, references to delicious food, and two fabulous characters.
The setting of the Pumpkin Patch is fun. Such brilliant colours. The search for the idolized love interest is loaded with mishaps. That goat, well that goat almost stole the show.

4 stars
Estranged by Ethan M. Aldridge

Two boys are switched at birth. The fae child keeps his powers secret from his human family. The human child is raised as a kind of plaything in the fae court. When the fae court is destroyed, he goes in search of his counterpart in the human world.
I loved the examination of what family means that is at the heart of this fantasy adventure. I’m looking forward to the sequel.

5 stars
Just Jaime (Emmie & Friends) by Terri Libenson

There are many fabulous graphic novels available today that deal with friendship. All of them highlight what it looks like to be in a healthy relationship. This is another stellar addition to the group.
I love that this shows the perspective of two girls caught up in a toxic clique. It’s as authentic as it gets.

4 stars

Invisible Emmie (Emmie & Friends) by Terri Libenson

I read these out of order, but after I read the the most recent, I had to go back and learn more about the other characters. The story is told in two parts. The text based one tells the story of Emmie, a quiet reserved young girl. The graphic section tells of an outgoing popular girl named Kate. What these two girls have in common is a delightful surprise.

NOVELS

4 stars
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy & Thรฉrรจse Plummer (Narrator)

I really enjoyed these characters. Authentic and realistic are words that come to mind regarding their personalities, their interactions and their situations.
I kind of wish Ramona had identified as bi at the end, but I’m OK with the acknowledgement that sexuality is fluid and complex.

3.5 stars
Death Bringer by Derek Landy & Stephen Hogan (Narrator)

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy this book. I did eventually. Perhaps it was too long since I read the previous books, and it took a while to reconnect. I did eventually get caught up in the characters and the plot. Readers who like fantastical tales full of action, battles, and a smidgeon of romance should try out the series.

3 stars
The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch

The problem with this book is that the main character, Tobias Winter, is boring. He has no pizazz. Compared to Aaronovitch's Peter Grant series, it's a letdown. I didn't mind the rehash of this magical world. I might even have appreciated it if only I could have connected to and believed in Tobias Winter and his side kick, Vanessa Sommer. If there are more in the series, perhaps they will become more real and endearing.

CURRENTLY

I'm listening to Over the Moon by Natalie Lloyd. I'm in the middle of Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke. I just started A Boy Is Not a Bird by Edeet Ravel.

UP NEXT

I hope to get to Wilder Girls by Rory Power, My Jasper June by Laurel Snyder, and Dual Citizens by Alix Ohlin.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

How exciting is this? I have reached nearly all my reading goals!

#MustReadIn2018 25/25

#MustReadNFIn2018 11/12 - one in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 24/25

25 books by Canadian Authors 85/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 377/333


Poetry Friday November 22, 2019



Poetry Friday is hosted today by Rebecca Herzog at Sloth Reads. She has written a delightful poem about salad. It sounds delicious, except I imagine my arteries clogging just reading the recipe.

Don't forget to check out the links to other participants sharing poetry today.

My father would have been eighty seven today.

He and my mother were on their way to a Masters' Bridge Tournament in San Fransisco when he had an aneurysm and died. He was fifty seven.

He was injured in a logging accident when he was only twenty five. Although he recovered, he used a wheelchair for the rest of his life. I wrote this poem for him awhile ago. I added the last stanza recently, because my father survived that tragedy and came out the other side a better person than he might have otherwise been.


Tribulation

My father
was a logger,
a high rigger,
a faller of stoic giants.
It's perversely fitting
that one of them felled him

My father
was handsome:
a tall, blonde,
Nordic god,
heir to kingdoms of possibility.
When gods fall, they fall hard.

My father
couldn’t climb up
into his before.
He raged against
his impossibly broken body
and let dark descend.

My father
took years to climb
up out of that dark
into the sunlight of a new life.
Vestiges of it left him volatile
and humbled,
our hero.