#IMWAYR November 29, 2012

Hello everyone. 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.

There is some positive news regarding the recent flooding and road closures in my part of the world. Routes for essential traffic have opened up so the mail and other necessities are being delivered. The grocery store shelves are stocked and life seems pretty normal. We are a bit worried about whether our sons and their families will be able to make it for Christmas because of road conditions, but have already determined to celebrate later if it doesn't work out. 

We've had a wonderful week here. Well, except that we have piles of cupboards taking over the main floor of the house ready to install as soon as the valence is finished. Everything takes a lot more time than you anticipate. I'm making progress on my baby quilt, so hopefully it won't be true for it.

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.


This picture book/graphic novel hybrid is hilarious! Princesses and dinosaurs argue over whose book this is. Each group brings in their big guns - a T Rex for the dinosaurs and a dragon for the princesses. It doesn't turn out like the original two groups planned.
I appreciate the diversity in the princesses. I love that by the end of the book the princesses and the dinosaurs have learned to appreciate one another and have fun together.
The colourful artwork was created digitally.

5 stars

The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt
 by Riel Nason & Byron Eggenschwiler (Illustrator) September 1, 2020  🍁

This is a sweet story about being different, and coming to accept yourself just are who you are. I love that because the little ghost is a quilt instead of a sheet, it gets treated and admired just like regular quilts are. Riel Nason is a Canadian quilter and author. Check out some samples of her work here. You can see examples of Byron Eggenschwiler's other artwork here


After finishing this book I really wished I wasn't allergic to creatures with fur. It made me miss my childhood cat terribly.
I read this first and then went in search of Buffy singing this song. It was even better when I reread the book with her voice and the rhythm of the music in my head.
Ben Hodson's digitally rendered artwork is loaded with charm. It shows the story of a young girl and her diverse family adopting a dog from a shelter.
The back matter includes song lyrics and music, photographs of Buffy Sainte-Marie with some of her animals and a note from the author.
Listen to the song here. https://youtu.be/bLMUjeuhKkU

4 stars

Knot Cannot
 by Tiffany Stone & Mike Lowery (Illustrations) April 7, 2020   🍁

This book is a lot of fun!
The blurb says it is "a pun-packed look at friendship, jealousy, and being yourself." That's pretty much it. Knot envies Snake who can do a lot that Knot cannot. But when danger lurks, it's Knot who saves the day. If this isn't enough to encourage you to purchase a copy, The language is mostly simple enough to add to your reader shelf. I love the different kinds of knots at the end of the book.

NON FICTION PICTURE BOOKS

5 stars

Gizmos, Gadgets, and Guitars: The Story of Leo Fender
 by Michael Mahin & Steven Salerno (Illustrations) September 7, 2021

This is absolutely wonderful!
If you know anything about guitars and music from the past 6 or 7 decades, you will have heard of a fender guitar. This is the story of how Leo Fender went from tinkering away at broken radios to making world famous musical instruments.
Steven Salerno's art is the perfect accompaniment. The original illustrations were created crayon, ink, gouache, and pastel on paper. They were scanned, imported into Photoshop, and finished. I love how a history of technology and musical genres is revealed through these images.
The back matter contains an author's note with additional information about Leo Fender, a bibliography, and glossary.

GRAPHIC NOVELS

4 stars

Phoebe and Her Unicorn
by Dana Simpson
September 2, 2014

My four year old granddaughter is crazy about unicorns. This series was always popular in my school library, so I thought I would read this to see if it might work for her. I now see why it was always checked out. Alas, although this story about a girl who becomes best friends with a unicorn is witty, heartwarming, and precious, it's still too old for her. I'm open to alternative suggestions if you have any. 

5 stars

Living with Viola
by Rosena Fung  🍁

I'm in the process of writing a full book review for this graphic novel. It's an intense look at how personal anxiety is exacerbated by external situations. It's heartbreakingly brilliant.

NOVELS


When I get into a series, it's because of the characters. Sure the writing is good, but it's that writing that creates individuals that my brain and heart comes to think of as real. A new book is like a visit with an old friend. That's how I feel about Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant series. Peter is a bit young to be an old friend, so I think of him as a kid I've watched grow up. He's a police office who is also a wizard in training. In this adventure he ends up in the countryside tracking down two kidnapped girls. Unicorns and the Fay are involved in the abduction.

I've read these with my eyes and ears. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is Peter Grant to me! If you are a fan of mysteries, fantasy and like clever wit in your reading life, I highly recommend this series!

Now that I've finished rereading it, I swear it's better the second time round. 


The Furthest Station
 by Ben Aaronovitch & Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Mystery, encounters with ghosts, talking foxes, river gods and goddesses, and magic are what I have come to anticipate and love from this series. In this novella. an increase in victorian ghost sightings causes Peter Grant; Jaget Kumar, his counterpart at the British Transport Police; Abbigail, Peter's young cousin; and Nightingale to patrol the underground. They track down and interview the spectres hoping to find out what is causing this increase in hauntings. It turns out to have it's origins in modern reality.

I first read this with my eyes, but without Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's narration, Peter Grant's character didn't come through. This time I was delighted to listen to it.  

NONFICTION


This book blew me away. George M. Johnson's memoir put me in mind of Thomson Highway's Permanent Astonishment, a memoir I recently finished. While they are decades apart in age, both of these queer men are from diverse backgrounds. Johnson is black while Thomson is Indigenous. Both of them radiate love and joy. Both are important reads for other boys like them who aren't blue, and for the rest of us who want to be allies. 

CURRENTLY

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch
Goldilocks: Wanted Dead or Alive by Chris Colfer & Jon Proctor (Illustrator)

UP NEXT 

Hunting by Stars (A Marrow Thieves Novel) by Cherie Dimaline
The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found by Karina Yan Glaser
More picture books from my #MustReadList

UPCOMING BLOG POSTS

Living With Viola by Rosena Fung

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2021 29/25
 

#MustReadNFIn2021 12/12 

#MustReadPBIn2021 70/100 

Big Book Summer Challenge 9 

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 36/25

Books by Canadian Authors: 113/100

Canada Reads 2021 5/5 

Discworld Series 41/41

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 405/333 


#IMWAYR November 22, 2021

Hello everyone. 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's been a wild week here in British Columbia and Washington State. BC is now in a state of emergency. Last weekend, from November 13th to November 15th, a level 5 atmospheric river dropped up to 250 millimetres (9.84 inches) of rain in some areas. Areas that didn't get that much, still ended up breaking all previous records for rainfall. This followed what was already one of the wettest months on record. Flooding and landslides have been intense across the province and state. Small towns have been nearly decimated. Vancouver, our largest city, was cut off from the rest of the country for a week because all the highways were closed. In one of the most important agricultural zones, Sumas lake, drained in the 1920's, has returned.

Photograph from Abbotsford News Nov. 17, 2021

The one route that finally opened up is for essential traffic only. Other routes won't be passable for at least a year, if ever. Here in my small town we were unscathed weather wise, but the usual self centred faction stormed grocery stores and cleaned out the produce, dairy, and toilet paper sections. 

In more positive news, the Governor General Literary Awards, "among Canada's oldest and most prestigious prizes for literature," were announced. Philippa Dowding won the Young People's Literature prize in the text category for Firefly, while David A. Robertson and illustrator Julie Flett won the illustrated books category, for their picture book, On the Trapline.

I finished up my advent calendars and mailed them off on Friday. I am keeping my fingers crossed that, now that the mail can get through, they will arrive in Vancouver before December 1st. Now I'm back to working on my second Olivier Dunrea quilt. 

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.


A young Cree boy is hyper sensitive to noise. His Mosom, (grandfather) teaches him an indigenous strategy called mamaskasitawew that involves learning to listen for wonder.
Read my whole review to see some examples of Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley gorgeous artwork. 

NON FICTION PICTURE BOOKS


Emmy Noether (pronounced NER-ter) solved a problem in Einstein's Theory of Relativity that none of the existing male mathematicians could figure out, but you probably haven't heard of her. She ended up proving a number of other laws of physics, but remained essentially unknown. "She worked in a field of study that didn't welcome women, and her male colleagues didn't even think to give her credit when they used her work or included it in their own."
The back matter includes additional information about this amazing woman. 
Kari Rust's artwork is hand drawn and coloured digitally. 

NOVELS

5 stars

Linked
by Gordon Korman July 20, 2021 🍁

I picked this up because Ms Yingling, who is more critical than I am, gave it 5 stars. I knew it had to be good and wasn't disappointed.
A swastika is painted on a school wall in a small town in Colorado. It sets off a series of events that results in students at the school working to create a paper chain 6 million links long, to represent the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust. In spite of this, swastikas continue to show up. 
This novel is told through the perspectives of a number of students at the school. The creation of the chain, uncovering the truth about the communities racist past, and discovery of the swastika painter, transforms them and their community. 
Gordon Korman is proving himself to be a noteworthy author. While this novel contains his characteristic humour, it addresses serious issues in ways that make them approachable for his readers. I adore this quote, "A paper chain can be done when it hits certain number of links. But tolerance is a project you always have to keep working at."


This is an adult novel told through the voice of Swiv, a nine year old. Three generations of women live together. Swiv's pregnant mother, an actress, tries to take care of all of them.
It's a book about intergenerational love. It's full of family stories told to Swiv that bring us close to each member of the family - including Swiv's absent father. It's about the relationship between a girl and her grandmother. In a family full of characters, this grandmother steals the show. She's a role model for all of us aging women.
I laughed. I cried. Sometimes at the same time.
Now that I am a grandmother, I am a sucker for stories of intergenerational relationships. I'm certain I would have loved this book even without that connection.

5 stars

Cloud Cuckoo Land
by Anthony Doerr with Marin Ireland & Simon Jones (Narrators) September 28, 2021

It took me a bit to really get into this book. Mostly just until I got all the different characters and stories right. Then I could hardly stop listening.
Doerr takes characters from across time - starting with Anna and Omeir during the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and moving forward to the future with 14 year old Konstance, the last of a group of humans travelling across space in search of a new planet. Between them is Zeno, a gay man born in the 1940, and Seymour, from the present day, who doesn't fit in and finds solace in wilderness (he might be on on the autism spectrum).
What ties them all together is a fictional novel about Aethon, a shepherd who is magically transformed into different creatures in his search for Cloud Cuckoo Land. It's credited to Antonius Diogenes, a real author from around 100 CE.
There is a lot going on in this book. At the same time as Anthony Doerr braids together the stories of the different characters, he weaves in multiple themes. He highlights heroes, environmental degradation, our attitudes towards those who are different, the importance of libraries and librarians, and ultimately, the power of story.

I've taken my sweet time reading this eclectic collection of essays because each one is a treasure. Some, like those about Pard, Ursula K. Le Guin's cat, are pure sweetness. Others, like those about the declawed and defanged lynx, broke my heart. Maybe it's because I am getting on in years myself, that I found her essays on aging to be profound. Permeating all of them is tenderness and a wry sense of humour.
These essays are taken from the blog she wrote in the last years of her life. They prove that not only was Le Guin one of the worlds finest science fiction and fantasy authors, she is one of our finest authors.
This is a book I now want to own. It's a book I'm hoping to gift 

CURRENTLY

Living With Viola by Rosena Fung
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

UP NEXT 

All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson

& more picture books from my #MustReadList

UPCOMING BLOG POSTS

Living With Viola by Rosena Fung

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2021 29/25
 

#MustReadNFIn2021 12/12 

#MustReadPBIn2021 66/100 

Big Book Summer Challenge 9 

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 36/25

Books by Canadian Authors: 108/100

Canada Reads 2021 5/5 

Discworld Series 41/41

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 394/333 


Thunder and the Noise Storms by Jeffrey Ansloos , Shezza Ansloos & Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley (Illustrator)


Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this picture book. It was released October 12, 2021, by Annick Press.

Thunder is a young boy who is hypersensitive to sound. When there is too much of it, it creates a noise storm in his head. When he gets overwhelmed by these storms he gets "that funny feeling in my body and my brain feels woozy." 

Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley's illustrations, like this one in the music room, made me feel overwhelmed by noise! 

By recess time, poor Thunder is so frustrated he has a meltdown and the principal calls his Mosom (Grandfather). The rest of the children go inside school while Mosom takes him on a nature walk. 

On their walk, Mosom teaches Thunder about mamaskasitawew, listening with wonder. Thunder learns to focus on the quiet sounds of wind, trees, squirrels, birds and other noises in nature.  

Eventually he is able to focus on the sound of his own heart. When they return to the noisy classroom, Thunder remembers his Mosom's words, "Thunder Thunder, listen with wonder," and finds that listening to his own heart helps him remain calm. 

I liked a lot about this picture book. I loved that Thunder is accepted for who he is and when it's obvious he needs help, the principal gets that one person who can help him. I appreciate that while the story is told in small chunks of text, sounds are integrated into the illustrations in large colourful font. This is sure to make it easier for readers to empathize with Thunder's problem. Not only will it help other students to understand peers like Thunder, it can reinforce the need for using quiet inside voices. I see using mamaskasitawew as a model for helping all students learn to listen, not just those with similar issues. 

While I think that mamaskasitawew is a brilliant strategy for learning how to deal with noisy situations, I found the timeline for Thunder's sudden ability to use it unreasonable. I can't imagine learning this skill in one walk, and worry that younger readers might think it's that easy. Of course this issue can easily be dealt with in a classroom conversation about the book. 

I admire Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley's artwork - especially the touches of woodland style throughout the book. It's more obvious when you look at the animals, but hints of it are integrated across the book. He works mainly in acrylics, digital illustration and screen-printing. If you've read Sharice's Big Voice, then you already know his work.


#IMWAYR November 15, 2021

Hello everyone. 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'm sharing two weeks of books again this week. We ended up in Vancouver visiting with our family last weekend and didn't get home til Monday. While we were there we picked up some kind of bug from the grandkids, but we seem to be mostly recuperated now. 

I am plowing through audiobooks these days. They keep me company while I am busy sewing, knitting, cooking, (I now need to hide those double chocolate cookies from myself) or assisting my partner with renovations. I've taken a bit of a break from the Olivier Dunrea quilts and am making a couple of advent calendars for my grandchildren. I will post pictures of the finished results next week. 

It was an exciting couple of literary weeks here in Canada. I should have mentioned the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Book Awards in my last post. Those winners were announced October 29th.  Katherena Vermette, Tomson Highway, Cherie Dimaline, Frances Itani, Linda Bailey and Weyman Chan were winners of Writer's Trust awards on November 3rd. On the 8th, Omar El Akkad won the Giller prize with his novel, What Strange Paradise. 

It hasn't all been wonderful though. Last Thursday, Lee Maracle, matriarch of Indigenous Literature in Canada, died. She was only 71. Her book, Celia's Song, blew my mind and helped me understand the intense intimacy of the indigenous relationship to the land. She will be deeply. 

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.

RECENT BLOG POSTS 



PICTURE BOOKS

3.5 stars

The Stray
 by Molly Ruttan May 19, 2020

A family finds a crashed spaceship and bring the little creature they find with it, home with them. Daily walks become a whole knew adventure. They bond, but the creature is obviously homesick. Eventually it's owners come for it, and the heartbroken family has to say goodbye. There is hope that perhaps this animal might be a connection between both sets of caretakers.

4 stars

Gemma and the Giant Girl
 by Sara O'Leary & Marie Lafrance (Illustrations) October 5, 2021  🍁

This is a strange and disturbing tale of a family of dolls living in an old fashioned doll house. After years of being abandoned, a giant girl discovers them and disrupts their lives. You will have to read it for yourself to determine if it is for the better or not. Check out my full blog post here to see some of Marie Lafrance's gorgeous artwork.

NON FICTION PICTURE BOOKS

5 stars

Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns: A Mesoamerican Creation Myth 
by Duncan Tonatiuh September 1, 2020

This Mesoamerican creation myth tells the story of how Quetzalcóatl—the Feathered Serpent, went on a perilous journey to retrieve bones from the underworld and create humans. It's a fascinating tale that begins with four attempts to create humans. Each one ended up in failure until Quetzalcóatl got involved.
I appreciated the additional information in the back matter about the survival of this myth. Duncan Tonatiuh's art is stunning as usual.

CHAPTER BOOKS

5 stars

Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise
by Kate DiCamillo, Chris Van Dusen (Illustrator) January 1, 2007

I read this with my granddaughter. To be honest, I was not much of a Mercy Watson fan (although I adore the Deckawoo Drive titles) Reading the Mercy books with my grandkids has taught me to admire them. Mostly, I have come to appreciate how hilarious and goofy they are! The contrast between Mr and Mrs Watson's perspective compared to Mercy's outlook on things makes me laugh out loud.

GRAPHIC NOVELS

5 stars

Clash
by Kayla Miller July 20, 2021

I love this series more with every book I read.
When Olive is exposed to mean girl drama though a new student, Natasha, she tries to befriend her. It doesn't work. Things get worse. Thankfully Olive's Aunt Molly really listens to her and acknowledges Olive's distress is justified.
It isn't until Natasha reveals her antagonism to Olive publicly, that others become aware of what is going on. Olive is embraced by her friends while Natasha ends up excluded. Olive ends up extending a hand and the two girls reach an accord.
Like Shannon Hale's Friends series, readers are exposed to positive ways to deal with toxic relationships. I'm so glad these books exist for kids today. I wish they had been there when I was of middle school age.

3.5 stars

Jukebox
by Nidhi Chanani June 22, 2021

Shaheen's father, Gio, has disappeared. Shaheen and her cousin, Tannaz, visit the music store he haunted, and discover a jukebox time machine. It takes them back in time to a place where a certain song is playing. The two girls begin a time travelling search for Gio and Earl, the owner of the record store.
I really liked the idea of this. I like the exposure to historical events provided through music. I think the target audience of readers will enjoy it. It went too fast for me.

This graphic novel looks at Japanese Internment here in Canada from a child's perspective. I've read many books on this topic, and have discovered that the individual stories, like this one, are all important. It's the juxtaposition of the Asahi Baseball team in the context of the Japanese Internment that make this one unique. Check out my full blog post if you want to see examples of David Namisato's artwork.

NOVELS

4 stars

How to Train Your Dad
by Gary Paulsen October 5, 2021

I laughed out loud regularly while reading this book. It's a lot of fun!

Carl's father is a free spirit who focuses on environmental concerns at a personal level. It never used to be a problem. His best friend, Pooder, thinks Carl's dad is cool, and wishes his dad could be more like him. But Carl has now reached the age where he wants to be the kind of boy who gets noticed by a certain girl. His father's lifestyle is cramping his style, so Carl decides to act on a pamphlet for how to train dogs and see if he can change his father.
Over time his father seems to change, but whether it has anything to do with Carl's actions is debatable. When his father finally realizes what Carl is up to he does what he can to support him. In the end the two of them come to a compromise that works for both of them.
What makes this book work is the nature of the characters themselves and their relationships with each other. There is a kind of vintage feel to the humour that permeates it. The antics of their rescued pit bull, Carole, are hilarious.
In spite of the laughter, I felt a kind of melancholy while reading, acknowledging that this is one of the last books Gary Paulsen will write.

4 stars

Under Shifting Stars
by Alexandra Latos September 29, 2020 🍁

I had no idea what this book was about going into it, so I had no expectations. I ended up liking it well enough, although there is a lot going on!
It's the story of fraternal twins. At one time they were best friends. As they grew up, Audrey, who seems to be on the autism spectrum, doesn't fit in with the rest of their peers. It's compounded by Clare's new friend, Sharon, who goes out of her way to harass her.
At the time this story enters our lives, their older brother, Adam, has been dead for about ten months, Audrey is going to a school with other students who are 'different,' and the two girls are estranged. Audrey wants to return to the same school as Clare. Clare is struggling with her sexual identity and trying to cope with what it means to be her authentic self. She is terrified of what will happen if Audrey returns to main stream high school, both for Audrey and herself.
As the two girls find their way back to each other, they have to first learn to be comfortable being who they are.

5 stars

Em
by Kim Thúy & Sheila Fischman (Translator) November 2, 2020 🍁

I finished listening to this adult novel and immediately started all over again.
It is a love story between two mixed race orphans. Thúy integrates this fictional romance into the history of Vietnam. Her rich and complicated story begins with the French invasion and ends with the state of the diaspora in America and Canada. She imbues her narrative with sensitive portrayals of many different actors. Parts of it left me in tears: the rainbow of chemicals rained down upon forests, rice fields, and people; the 19 year old GI who played hide and seek with children until his commander came back and showed him the war meaning of 'take care of them'; children abandoned by adults and forced to look after themselves and each other; and the fatal plane crash full of babies during the frenzied evacuation.
The audiobook is read by the author. Her accented narration suffuses the narrative with heartbreaking authenticity. I dare you to read this book in any format and not be moved.

4 stars

Whispers Under Ground
by Ben Aaronovitch & Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Narrator) June 21, 2012

This book introduces Abigail Kamara to the series when she takes Peter and Lesley May into the underground where she found a ghost. Soon afterwards the son of an American Senator is found murdered. It is determined that magic is involved. The search for the murderer takes the Folly inhabitants from art shows to an underground community known as the Quiet People.
All the magical weirdness is just delightful.

4 stars

Broken Homes
by Ben Aaronovitch & Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Narrator) February 4, 2013

Peter and the Folly denizens have a lot to deal with. They are tracking down illegally trained magic students, there are three different murders to solve, the peace to keep at he Summer Court of the God and Goddess of the River Thames, and a trap to set for the Faceless Man.
Even though I knew this ending was coming, I was still gobsmacked by it and immediately downloaded the next in the series.

I am discovering that the Rivers of London series is even better the second time round. If possible, I am even more infatuated.  It is filled with self deprecating humour. They are adult oriented, but would make fabulous YA reading. I love how well the magical elements are integrated into what is otherwise the modern world.
If you are looking for fun, light, entertaining reading that incorporates magic, murder and the mythological creatures, this is it. So far everyone who I have referred these to has enjoyed them as much as I do. I'm wondering who I might gift them to this year.

5 stars

Patron Saints of Nothing
by Randy Ribay & Ramón de Ocampo (Narrator) June  18, 2019

This is intense on many different levels. The first time round I had to stop listening and read it with my eyes.
Following the death of his cousin, a Filipino-American teenager heads off to the Philippines to find out what happened. He's met with an uncle steeped in toxic masculinity and a family that refuses to acknowledge they ever had a son and brother.
As a reader from Canada, this YA novel provided me with a window into Filipino history and sociopolitical culture. I was deeply engaged with the characters and terrified for them.
There are many gorgeous chunks of writing. I collected this quote “If we are to be more than what we have been, there's so much that we need to say. Salvation through honesty, I guess.”

After rereading this the second time for a book club, I decided to increase my rating from 4 to 5 

 NON FICTION

5+ stars

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest
by Suzanne Simard May 4, 2021 🍁

Everyone should read this book, especially if they have ever been, or are now involved in logging or forestry.
I knew something about tree communication from reading Peter Wohlleben's The Secret Life of Trees, but Suzanne Simard, in her memoir, makes connections between our lives and the ways trees relate to each other. If you have read The Overstory, you will note that the character of Patricia Westerford is based on her.
Suzanne Simard, a professor at UBC, is is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence. Her story of coming to understand the relationship between trees highlights the failure of the old boys club of foresters, who were more caught up in power politics than paying attention to how to rehabilitate clear cut forests. Her research shows us that reciprocity, not competition, is the key to reforestation. It's also the key to getting us through the crisis of climate change.

UPCOMING BLOG POSTS

Thunder and the Noise Storms by Jeffrey Ansloos & Shezza Ansloos
Living With Viola by Rosena Fung

CURRENTLY

I am still reading No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin. Each essay is a jewel.
Linked by Gordon Korman
Fight Night by Miriam Toews
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

UP NEXT 

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
& picture books from my #MustReadList

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2021 29/25
 

#MustReadNFIn2021 11/12 one in progress

#MustReadPBIn2021 65/100 

Big Book Summer Challenge 9 

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 35/25

Books by Canadian Authors: 104/100

Canada Reads 2021 5/5 

Discworld Series 41/41

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 388/333 


Stealing Home by J. Torres & David Namisato

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this picture book. It was released October 5, 2021, by Kids Can Press.

From 1919 to 1940, the Asahi, an all Japanese baseball team in the Vancouver Metro area of British Columbia, won 10 city championships. The renowned team was admired by sports enthusiasts from all backgrounds. To their Japanese fans, who dealt with racism on a daily basis, the team was a profound symbol - proving they were equal to everyone else. When the team didn't make the semifinals in 1941, it was considered a bad omen. 

This book, written from the perspective of a Sandy Saito, a young Japanese boy, takes us through the experiences of his family and their community in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.

Prior to the attack, the Vancouver Japanese community was a busy one.  Sandy was pretty much an ordinary boy just like many other boys his age. 

His relationship with his father was strong. He was a doctor who had a private practice because he could only work in oriental hospitals. Sandy and his father played catch and went to baseball games together, the only place his reserved father let go of his emotions. Sandy, his younger brother Ty, and his parents, had a good life. 

After 1941 everything changed.

In spite of their teacher's pleas for her students to remain friends, racism took hold at school. At home, as his mother prepared the house for war, it seemed to be as much to keep them safe from what was to come for them as it was from external forces. One day Sandy, his little brother, Ty, and their friends went to the park to play baseball with their usual peers. They were set upon, called names and had rocks thrown at them. 

Throughout 1942 the lives of Japanese Canadians became more and more constrained. Radios, cameras and cars were confiscated. As life became more stressful, Sandy watched his mother become sad and his father become increasingly irritable. In order to do his job, Sandy's father ended up working more and more. He often had to break curfew and this created conflict between the parents. After one such argument, when his father made his mother cry, Sandy wished his father wouldn't come home. 

Shortly afterwards the RCMP arrived at their door with a note saying their father had been sent to "where he was needed the most." The rest of the family had to be ready to leave in 48 hours. The children thought they were going to be with their father, but after a long train ride and then a journey in a freezing cold truck, they ended at a camp in a three room shack. They had to use an outhouse, get water from a tap, and eat strange food in a mess house. Even worse, they discovered that their Father was at a different camp. 

As much as Sandy missed his father, his guilt about wishing he wouldn't come home ate away at him. Even as adults attempted to reassure children that everything was temporary, he began to realize that nothing would ever be the same again. 

Luckily they arrived at the camp during summer vacation. Children found joy swimming in the lake as though it was just summer camp. 

Adults on the other hand worried how they would get through the winter. The shacks had no insulation, not even tarpaper, to keep the cold wind out. 

Then things got worse. Another family with a small child and a screaming baby moved into their cabin. The boy's mother made them welcome, but Sandy found the crowded conditions and the noise made life intolerable. 

Thankfully, baseball came to the camp. It wasn't the same as a game at a stadium, but they got to watch older boys play. Some of them were even from the Asahi team. Then Sandy's father returned to work at the sanitarium they were building in the community. He still wasn't around to play catch because he had to be, "where he is needed most."

Then the boys' mother and Sandy came down with TB. Only after Sandy almost died trying to get help for her, did his father realize that his family is as important as his patients. When Sandy was finally released from the hospital, he found that the community had embraced baseball in a significant way. I really like how the sacredness of it is portrayed in the last panels of the book. 


I appreciate how this narrative shows readers both the collective and personal experiences of the Japanese community during their internment. David Namisato's sepia toned artwork is perfect for capturing the historical essence of the times. It's important to pay close attention to the details. I appreciate how much emotional nuances he depicts in the relationships between the different characters. I like how the images reveal the difference between the younger and older generations understanding of the events of the times.

Over time I have read a number of books about treatment of the Japanese during the war both here in Canada and in the United States. Last summer my partner and I explored museums an hour's drive from our home. They focused, at least in part, on the internment and how people were integrated into the different communities afterwards. What I've learned is that no matter how many books I've read, the individual stories, like this one, are all important. It's the juxtaposition of the Asahi Baseball team in the context of the Japanese Internment that make this one unique. 

The back matter of the book contains all kinds of additional material by Susan Aihoshi. Some of it focuses on family history. Other sections address Asian immigration and the racist events in Vancouver. 

I would probably purchase a number of copies of this book if I was still working in the library. The format ensures that young readers will eagerly learn more about this aspect of our history. 

If you are interested, you might enjoy watching this NFB documentary, Sleeping Tigers: The Asahi Baseball Story.

 

Gemma and the Giant Girl by Sara O'Leary & Marie Lafrance (Illustrations)


Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this picture book. It was released October 5, 2021, by Tundra Books.

Gemma lives in an old fashioned doll house with her mother and father. They have a fine life where things never change. She wonders if she will grow up but is told she will always be their little girl. They tell her stories about a time with giants, but for Gemma, nothing different is ever outside her window.

And then in the next illustration, we see a huge eye looking through the it.


The house moves as though an earthquake is shaking it. A giant girl peers inside the house. Soon afterwards, Gemma and her family’s life changes. Some of these changes are good but others are bad. 


They get new clothes and then even more new clothes. 


A book arrives and Gemma is shown pictures of the wonders of the world. Then one day, Gemma is removed from her house. The giant girl shows her the world.


As beautiful as it is, Gemma just wants to go home.

Marie Lafrance's illustrations are gorgeous! The beauty of her art contrasts with the disturbing elements of this strange tale. This juxtaposition of whimsy and weird is what I like most! I appreciate finishing a story wondering what the heck happened? This is one of those. I'm pondering how are we like Gemma? How are we like the giant girl? 
 
I wish I had people to discuss this with.