#IMWAYR November 23, 202

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

We almost completely gutted our main bathroom this week (the bathtub/shower part was refinished a couple of years ago.) Still, it's not really functional with everything else awry. We discovered that the wiring is anything but straightforward, so we are waiting for an electrician to help us figure it out. In the meantime my partner is mudding and sanding the gyprock that was behind the wallboard. I usually help him at this stage, but it's just not big enough in there. 

Otherwise in my project life, my fabric arrived on Thursday so I am back at work on the monstrous Piet Mondrian quilt. I've finished one knitting project that I can't share here now because it is a gift for a friend who reads my blog. I've got socks on the go for my partner that I knit on while we are watching TV. These days we are rewatching Deadwood. 

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

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


4 stars

The Thundermaker
by Alan Syliboy πŸ

This is the story of a young boy, Little Thunder, growing up and learning to become The Thundermaker. Readers learn the role thunder and lightning play in rejuvenating the earth along along with him. As the boy grows up he learns how recognize the seasons through the movement of animals, and how to catch fish, and hunt. Storytelling is most important aspect of this life. It's how he learns to be Mi'kmaw.

"Giju [his mother] explains how one cycle rolls into the next. She says that characters always reappear with a new teaching or a new way of telling an old one.

His mother talks in pictures, and these pictures transport him back in time. There he can find his place as part of this cycle.

When Little Thunder's mother finishes a story, his father picks it up, telling of great hunting trips and how to think like a rabbit or a fox. He tells Little thunder how to know where the animals will be and how to have real respect for these creatures."

Alan Syliboy is a Mi’kmaw artist, filmmaker, musician and social justice advocate. His art is inspired by Mi'kmaw petroglyph and quill weaving traditions. He works in acrylic and mixed media.

5 stars

I Lost My Talk
by Rita Joe & Pauline Young (Illustrator) πŸ

Rita Joe was an indigenous poet and songwriter of the Whycocomagh First Nation in Nova Scotia. This poem tells of how she lost her language, her culture, and ways of knowing the world while in residential school.

The back matter includes two pages of information about residential schools and another page with information about Rita Joe.

Pauline Young, a Mi'kmaw artist from Nova Scotia, spent a year creating the paintings for this and the companion book by Rebecca Thomas, I’m finding My Talk. Her art captures the pain and anguish from her own life to portray the darkness and hope in this book. You can read more about her here


This is as good as Jerry Craft's first book, New Kid. It focuses more on Drew, Jordan's friend. Through the characters in the book readers become more aware of the many microaggressions BIPOC people have to deal with on a regular basis.


I read a couple of pages and then got distracted by other things.
When I finally sat down in peace and quiet, I devoured this book. Creepy plants taking over my part of the world - Yikes! Teens who don't just seem like they are part alien, but really are! Thankfully they have lots of courage to deal with this evil flora.
The best thing about starting this sci fi series this late is that I can now start the next one right away without all that waiting. 

After reading this I'm never going to complain about the weeds in my garden again. 


This collection of short stories won this year’s Giller Prize. The tales portray Laos immigrants negotiating their way in a strange new country. They tell of poverty, heartache and hardship. Souvankham Thammavongsa’s characters are so matter of fact real, it’s like you could run into them on the street. If not them, then people very much like them.
The intimacy of these stories reminds me that everyone, no matter who they are, has an important story to tell.


In the discworld an eighth son of an eighth son automatically becomes a wizard. When that wizard ends up getting married and becoming a father to  eight sons, the eighth child is so loaded with magic he becomes a sorcerer. On the Discworld, sorcerer's have far more power than wizards. When said father has a grudge to settle with the wizards at Unseen University, nasty things are bound to happen. When Coin (under the control of his spiteful father) arrives at the university, the wizards are duly impressed by his power. It turns out he is also a source of powerful magic. In a short time they use it to battle each other for supremacy. Last time this happened they nearly destroyed the discworld. It's up to Rincewind, a wizard renowned for his lack of magic, and the Archchancellor's hat to save the day. The satire in this is brilliant. I laughed out loud numerous times.

This won the British Science Fiction Association in 1989, but is my least favourite book in the series so far. That said, once I got into it I was certainly engaged. It's set in a desert kingdom, Djelibeybi. which is the Discworld's version of Egypt. Teppic, the hero, went away to Ankh-Morpork to train to be an assassin, but upon his graduation, his father dies. He has to return to and take his place as king. In theory he is the supreme ruler, but he soon learns that in reality he is nothing more than a figurehead. In attempting to appease the high priest, he orders the largest and most elaborate pyramid ever built for his father. In order to create this spectacle, the pyramid makers call upon quantum magic. It ends up spinning Djelibeybi into some kind of time warp where the dead come alive and gods walk the earth.
Teppic misses all this because he has fled the Kingdom with one of his father's handmaidens who did not want to 'volunteer' to die and be interred in the pyramid with him. Upon learning that Djelibeybi has disappeared, he has to figure out how to find it and save them all.
This book, like others  in the series is fully loaded with play on words and parodies of life in our round world. This site here outlines most, if not all of them. 


I'm listening to The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde. With my eyes I'm reading Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat. The Discworld book I've got on the go right now is Eric


I'm hoping my next audiobook will be Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, but if it doesn't arrive from the library in time, I've just downloaded the ebook. I'm hoping to read (with my eyes) From You to Me by K. A. Holt. both of these are on my #MustReadIn2020 lists. I fear I may not reach all my goals this year, but I'm going to do my best in the next while. I've paused all my library holds except those on the lists. 


#MustReadIn2020: 22/25 

#MustReadNFIn2020: 11/12 

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 24/25 

Books by Canadian Authors: 125/100 

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 304/333 

#IMWAYR November 16, 2020

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

I had big plans to finish the Piet Mondrian quilt last week, but I ran out of fabric for black sashing. I ordered more online and hope to have it finished soon. In the meantime I have started knitting a pair of socks for my partner as a Christmas gift. He loves his homemade socks and wears them all year long - even in the warmer weather with sandals. 

I'm thinking that while I wait I should start on baby quilts for my two newest grandkids. I've finished designing them based on the goslings from the Gossie and Friends series by Olivier Dunrea. I'm just not sure how to execute these plans. 

I might have gotten more reading in this week but my partner and I started watching The Queen's Gambit and ended up loving it so much we kind of binged on it. Then we watched Okja. It was a wonderful TV watching week. I wish there was more like this!

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

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


The Paper Boat by Thao Lam


5 stars

The Paper Boat
by Thao Lam

This wordless graphic novel is a refugee tale. It tells the story of a Vietnamese family escaping from Vietnam at the end of the war. Here is the official book trailer.


I can imagine my two sons devouring this book back in the days when video games were their passion and before they grew up and took on other responsibilities. I bet youngsters today will be fascinated to learn how the games they play today first began. This will be an important resource for students working on research projects. I sure wish it had been around to pique the interest of students who had a hard time coming up with topics that interested them. I appreciated Beatriz Castro’s gorgeous artwork here. 


This was a spectacular finale to this YA superhero/science fiction/fantasy trilogy.
Since the end of the last book, Mihko Laboratories has ramped up it's nefarious research in Wounded Sky. The community has been cut off from the rest of the world. More people have gone missing. The Upayokwitigo is still around.
How can Cole and his friends deal with all this since Cole was killed at the end of the last book? How can a ghost still dealing with anxiety, be of any help at all?
I was on edge all the way through this book. I kept anticipating something terrible and then it would happen. That would get dealt with, and then my anxiety level would ramp up again as I waited for something terrible to happen again.
Robertson has talked about dealing with anxiety himself. I've been wondering if this pattern of tension and release in the story parallels dealing with anxiety in real life.

This is my book club book for this month. On Sunday we attended a zoom session sponsored by the Vancouver Writers Festival. We will meet later this week to talk about the book among ourselves. 
This is a beautifully written and profound book that looks at the intersection of faith, mental health, addiction and science. Gifty and her family nestled their way into my heart. Bahni Turpin's narration was brilliant as usual. 


This is another witches' novel. Plans are set for Magrat and Varence's wedding. A young wanna be witch makes a deal with the queen of the elves. Then the Lancre Morris Team gets drunk and dances on a fairy mound. This allows the elves to enter through a portal into the Discworld. Thankfully Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Og, and Magrat Garlick are there to deal with them. 
If you have not read any Terry Pratchett here is what you need to know. At the same time as his books are absolutely hilarious, they are also serious novels that reveal important truths about humankind.
“Shoot the dictator and prevent the war? But the dictator is merely the tip of the whole festering boil of social pus from which dictators emerge; shoot him and there'll be another one along in a minute.”


I've started Bloom by Kenneth Oppel. I'm listening to Sourcery by Terry Pratchett. I've started Class Act by Jerry Craft, but it's hard for me to focus because it has to be read in my browser and I am easily distracted. 


My next audiobook will be either How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa, or The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde. Reading with my eyes I hope to get to A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat. I've got a pile of books for must #MustReadIn202 lists that I have to get to soon!


#MustReadIn2020: 21/25 one in progress

#MustReadNFIn2020: 11/12 

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 22/25 

Books by Canadian Authors: 123/100 

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 297/333

The Paper Boat by Thao Lam

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It was released September 15, 2020, by Owlkids Books.

The Paper Boat is a wordless graphic novel that deals with a Vietnamese family fleeing Vietnam following the end of the war. 

It requires work on the part of the reader. 

It’s well worth the effort. 

Thao Lam used paper cut collages created from textured paper and drawings to create the stunning art. The end papers highlight newspaper headlines. Those at the front of the book provide snapshots of the war from its inception to the fall of Saigon. Those at the end reference refugees. 

The narrative begins with a table covered with ants. Some crawl into a bowl of something and a young girl rescues them. 

Eventually the family sits down at the table to eat. Outside a window, tanks and soldiers adorned with yellow stars stream past. At this, the family members gather what they need and separate. 

The girl and her mother set out on a journey together. At one point the mother covers the child’s face as soldiers with guns pass nearby. When it appears that they are lost, they follow a trail of ants marching to the ocean. While they wait the child folds a paper boat. Then when their boat arrives and they climb into it, she drops the folded ship. 

For the next while it becomes the story of the ants. They climb aboard the paper boat. Afloat on the ocean we see them seasick, being attacked by birds, drowning, getting so hungry and thirsty they begin to devour the boat and drink rainwater. A storm capsizes the vessel but eventually some ants make it to shore. There they are greeted by a massive collection of other ants. 

At this point the story returns to the young girl and her family. We see ants in a new land. As observers looking inside their window, we see one ant making its way across a table laden with delicious food. The girl and her family are sitting around it. 

Next we zoom out of their window and see an apartment full of many windows filled with diverse families.

In the author’s note in the back matter we learn that 1.6 million refugees fled Vietnam at the end of the war. 400,000 of these died at sea for assorted reasons. Those who survived ended up in crowded refugee camps. We discover that this graphic novel is based on her family’s escape. She is the young girl in this story. 

I had no difficulty making connections between what was happening to the ants and what happened to the many 'Boat People' as they were often referred to in the late 1970’s and 80’s. Throughout my career I taught many of their children. For those who might be confused, Thao Lam consolidates and extends the story as she explains how integral the ants are to her and her mother’s tale. 

I appreciate so much about this book. I love that I had to think and was compelled to go back again and again to unpack it more fully. I love the artwork. I am fascinated by the parallels between the ants and the people. The endpapers are just brilliant. 

This book makes me wish I was still teaching. I imagine putting these pages on a large screen and have conversations with students about what they see and what they think it means. I’ve read it at least three times and each go round I discover more.

#IMWAYR November 9, 2020

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

Congratulations to all my American friends on a successful election. We celebrate with you, not only the first Black woman vice president, the first woman vice president! The days ahead might be rocky and there is a lot of work ahead to unity your fractured country, but for now we are revelling in the victory of democracy in your country. You have returned hope to many of us in the rest of the world. 

I'm working hard to finish up a quilt for my son and daughter in law. Using a quilt as you go process, I'm turning a Piet Mondrian painting into a reversible quilt. I'm now putting all the sections together. It's a lot of hand sewing for the final seam in each sashing. I'm getting a sense of what it will look like finished and am liking it more and more. I will post pictures next week.

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

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



My Hair is Beautiful
by Shauntay Grant

This board book highlights different hairdos of black children. The last page has an embedded mirror for readers to look at themselves. I might not be the target audience, but looking at the faces of these happy toddlers brought joy into my heart. Shauntay Grant is the award winning Canadian author of Africville and Up Home.

I am trying to get on top of this series. What a wacky and wonderful collaboration between Arthur Yorinks and Sergio Ruzzier. When Mean Ant ends up lost in the middle of the desert and asks, "Where the jalapeΓ±o am I?, I started laughing and chuckled all the way through to the end. I love the hilarious idioms and play on words. The comical interactions between the ant and the fly are delightful. If only my library had the next one.


I'm Trying to Love Rocks
by Bethany Barton

This humorous book introduces young readers to the many aspects of studying geology. I sure wish it had been around when I was teaching this topic. If I was still in the library I would purchase 2 copies. 

Bethany Barton's earlier book, I'm Trying to Love Spiders, helped me come to some kind of truce with those creatures. While people might not have pathological fears to overcome with regards to rocks, this book is certain to make them passionate about learning more about them. 

It is a brilliant introduction for older readers ready for a deeper study these aspects. I'm pretty sure that my four year old grandson, who loves rocks, will love this.


This novel is both a murder mystery and parody of opera. Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Og head off to Ankh-Morpork for a couple of reasons. The first is to deal with a shady publisher who has cheated Nanny Og. The second is to see if they can recruit Agnes Nit into their coven since Magrat Garlick has gone off and married the King of Lancre. Agnes knows their purpose, but is almost content at the opera house as a member of the chorus. Not only is the opera house haunted, the ghost has started murdering people. 
This might be one of the most hilarious novels in the series.  

Carpe Jugulum
 by Terry Pratchett & Nigel Planer (Narrator)

"Terry Pratchett pastiches the traditions of vampire literature" with hilarious results. When a group of modernized Vampires take over Lancre Castle, things look very dire indeed. Even the powerful Granny Weatherwax seems incapable of dealing with them. However, Granny's strength should never be underestimated. With the help of Brother Oats, the new priest, she is a force even Vampires shouldn't try to mess with.


This is a powerful look at what it means to have PTSD. RomΓ©o Dallaire, a retired three star Canadian general and retired Senator, writes about the aftermath of his time in Rwanda. As leader of the peacekeeping troops there, he was unable to stop the genocide of the Tutsi and other people in 1994.

What Delaire makes clear in this book is that war is not what it once was: “The soldiers had changed, as had war itself: it was no longer a matter of superpowers meeting each other on the field of battle, but the new world disorder. We were Cold War warriors ready to fight huge armoured forces in Central Europe, hoping that these small, inter-state kerfuffles were just a passing phase. But we were no longer facing classic war, or even classic peacekeeping: in this new style of warfare civilians, even women and children, are not only on the front line, they are the front line. The Somalia mission was able to degenerate the way it did because our training had not adapted to these new realities.”

Not only does this book reveal how he deals with his own PTSD, it chronicles the ways he fought, and continues to fight for help for soldiers returning from recent conflict. In Canada, “We have lost more veterans to suicide during and since our mission in Afghanistan than we did in our thirteen years of combat there.”

If we truly claim to honor our soldiers and others who deal with traumatic experiences (police, ambulance, firefighters etc) then it is our duty to ensure that they are well cared for, emotionally, physically, and financially when they can no longer serve.

This is a challenging emotional read. I wept a number of times. 

This is a powerful read that looks at America through the lens of a caste system. Isabel Wilkerson compares the USA to India and Nazi Germany. (Did you know that the German Nuremberg Laws were based on the segregation laws of the Southern states?) There are sections in this book I found challenging to read. I took breaks and went back to it because essentially it is bearing witness to historic atrocities.  
I read and finished this while Americans and the world waited for the results of the 2020 US election results. While I am happy with the results, after reading this, I'm also not surprised that 70 million people, almost all of them white, (five million more than last time) voted for that orange menace. 
I learned a lot from this book. I can't help but integrate the role global unfettered capitalism has in exacerbating the deep rooted issues Wilkerson identified here.

An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff, Alex Tresniowski & Pam Ward (Narrator)

I mostly enjoyed this feel good story. I appreciated the author's honesty and enjoyed reading about her early life. It was in her interactions with Maurice that I became uncomfortable. I don't think she fully grasped the responsibility she took on when she befriended this young boy. She acknowledges that it benefited her as much as him, but at the same time, once she found the man of her dreams, she very nearly abandoned him. 
I was glad that the afterward includes a letter from Maurice sharing his perspective of their relationship. In spite of my misgivings, I am glad that these two disparate people met.


I've started Ghosts by David A Robertson. I'm listening to Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett. 


My next audiobook will be Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. I'm hoping to get to Class Act by Jerry Craft and Bloom by Kenneth Oppel.  


#MustReadIn2020: 21/25 

#MustReadNFIn2020: 10/12 

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 21/25 one in progress

Books by Canadian Authors: 121/100 

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 291/333

#IMWAYR November 1, 2020

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

I tried really hard to finish listening to Internment by by Samira Ahmed, but It was too intense for me in this format. I've put a reserve on a print copy.

Here are three projects I finished last week that are going in the mail today. 

My granddaughter organized scraps on backing
when she visited and I sewed them all
together to make this quilt for her baby doll. 

I'm learning to do colour work. This is't perfect,
but it is done. It's going off to the same

My mother in law started this sweater before
she died
. I finished knitting the collar, sewed
the parts together, and put in a zipper. It's off
for my grandson. 

Now I have to get back to work on my son and daughter-in-law's quilt. 

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

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


For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World by Michael W. Waters, Keisha Morris (Illustrator)

Willa the Wisp (The Fabled Stables #1) by Jonathan Auxier & Olga Demidova (Illustrations)

Saturday at the Garage by Nancy Hundal, Angela Pan (Illustrator)


5 Stars

For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World
by Michael W. Waters, Keisha Morris (Illustrator)

Don't miss this. My friend read my review and texted me to say it made her cry. I told her to go and read the book. It's an emotional and important read for all of us. You can read my full review and see samples of the artwork here.

5 Stars

Saturday at the Garage
by Nancy Hundal, Angela Pan (Illustrator) πŸ

If you are searching for descriptive language as mentor text, look no further. I've read this at least three times and each go round I find more lines and phrases to swoon over. Add to this the glorious artwork by Angela Pan. She captures light and sets it to illuminating the pages. Put it all together and this picture book welcomes us into enchantment. You can read my full review and see samples of the artwork here.

4 Stars

The Cool Bean
(Bad Seed #3) by Jory John, Pete Oswald (Illustrations)

Being cool is more than what you wear and how you move. A bean who thinks he is a 'has bean' learns that being cool is mostly about who you are and how you are with others. 


4 Stars

(Click #3) by Kayla Miller

I was delighted to enter into Kayla Miller's world again. Olive discovers that some students can't go on field trips because their parents can't afford them. This not only leaves them out, but puts them at a disadvantage when these trips are important aspects of the curriculum. In order to raise awareness of this and other issues students have to deal with, she ends up running for student council against some of her best friends. 

I loved this book. It pairs up beautifully with For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World in that both of these books will empower readers to become active to make the world a better place for all of us. 



5 Stars

Willa the Wisp
(The Fabled Stables #1) by Jonathan Auxier & Olga Demidova (Illustrations) πŸ

I truly enjoyed this chapter book and think children will too. It's a little bit creepy, a little bit fanciful and a whole lotta delightful. If you are interested in learning more about Auggie, the youngster who looks after the creatures in the The Fabled Stables, you can read my full review and see samples of the artwork here.


4 Stars

War Stories
 by Gordon Korman πŸ

Trevor is excited to be heading off to Europe with his father and Great Grandfather (GG). GG is set to receive an award for his work liberating a town during WW2. Trevor is mad for anything war related and considers GG to be a hero. GG, in all his story telling about his experiences, doesn't dispel Trevor's romanticization of war. Everything changes when they arrive in Europe. Not only do GG's stories reveal a darker side to his adventures, the trio are being stalked by a group who don't think he is a hero at all.

4 Stars

Dear Justyce
by Nic Stone & Dion Graham (Narrator) 

This book broke my heart. I knew that BIPOC are represented in the prison system way more than they should, (in both the United States and here in Canada) but Nic Stone made me really care about one possible kid. You will too. 

In her remarks at the end she talks about her research for this novel. Quan and his story is a composite of all the young incarcerated people she met. His story of early trauma is commonplace. 

 My takeaway is that we need to do better for all our youth at risk.


You can watch the animated version of this novel, but you will miss all the wonderful nuances and humour in Terry Pratchett's novel. It is his version of Shakespeare's Macbeth. It's hilarious, baudy, and sobering in the truth that is revealed about the power of words. It seemed very relevant for the times. This is the second time I've read this and I loved visiting Nanny Og, Granny Weatherwax, and Magrat Garlick again. 


Frieda Wishinsky and Elizabeth MacLeod are a dynamic duo. This endeavor is chock full of fascinating biographies of scientists, mathematicians, inventors and all kinds of remarkable individuals. Some of these are well known, while others are new to me. They are a diverse collection of individuals: men, women, and BIPOC, all who span across time and space. 

The book is divided into eleven chapters. Each highlights a specific aspect what what it takes to be a genius and goes on to showcase three different people who portray this characteristic. Brightly coloured collages precede each chapter. Photographs of each genius and related images accompany the write up about them. There are fact boxes loaded with quotes, captioned photographs, close ups, diagrams and many other significant text features including a glossary and index.  

I especially appreciate that the characteristics are ones readers can develop. Hopefully, they too can become geniuses. 

In addition to all that, this is a fun book to read. I couldn't stop myself from interrupting my partner's reading claiming, "Listen to this.... Did you know that?" It was so interesting he didn't once give me the evil eye. 


I've started Waiting for First Light by RomΓ©o Dallaire, one of my #MustReadNF titles. It's a very hard read. I'm listening to Maskerade by Terry Pratchett. I'm reading and writing a blog post about The Paper Boat by Thao Lam. 


I'm hoping to get to Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett. (It's got vampires and I should have listened to it last month, but I wasn't ready for it.) I will also read Ghosts by David A Robertson. 


#MustReadIn2020: 20/25 

#MustReadNFIn2020: 9/12 one in progress

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 21/25

Books by Canadian Authors: 118/100 one in progress

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 284/333

Willa the Wisp (The Fabled Stables #1) by Jonathan Auxier & Olga Demidova (Illustrations)

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It was released October 20, 2020, by Penguin Random House Canada.

Don't miss this entertaining treat for chapter book readers! 

It's a little bit creepy, a little bit fanciful and a whole lotta delightful. 


And at the heart of that island lived a boy named Auggie. "    

On this island are the Fabled Stables. They look small from the outside, but inside they are magically massive enough to be home to one of a kind magical beings. 

Auggie, a young boy with the ability to talk to animals, is their caretaker. 

Unfortunately he's the only boy on the island and lonely. He may or may not be friends with Fen, a cantankerous 'stick in the mud" who transforms into any shape Auggie needs while caring for the stables. All to often this means turning into a shovel to dig out the muck a stable inevitably acquires. The only other people on the island are Miss Bundt, who, based on her many tattoos, may or may not have been a pirate in a previous career. Her job now seems to be to make things for Professor Cake, an old, clever collector and owner of the island. 

One morning the earth shakes. When Auggie rushes to the stables he discovers a new stall. The back of it opens into a swamp where, unbeknownst by him, far away, some hunters are chasing down a magical creature. 

Auggie, wrapped in a bit of Gargantula's web so he doesn't get lost, heads off in search of the new creature. Willa the Wisp, seems to be a bunny like creature with floppy ears, fluffy tail, horns and wings. She has the capacity to transform herself into whatever shape she wants. 

Things seem dire when Auggie and Willa end up trapped in a net by the nefarious hunters. 

I adored so much about this book. Jonathan Auxier's writing is whimsical and fun. I've read this three times and each time I am more enchanted. My NetGalley copy included unfinished artwork by Olga Demidova, a Russian illustrator now living in the USA. She creates exquisite art using photoshop. I found some of the finished work I shared here on her instagram site

In his introductory note, the author writes, 

The Fabled Stables is meant to be read aloud. As a parent I've struggle to find read-alouds that strike a balance between the interests and attention spans of my differently aged kids. I wanted to create a series that combined the more complex plotting and language of chapter books with the illustration-every-page excitement of picture books. Truly, this is a series meant for readers of all ages." 

Thank you Jonathan Auxier for your brilliantly executed vision.  

I've already ordered a couple of copies of this for two of my grandchildren. (I might even have to purchase a copy for myself for when they come to visit) 

I'm excitedly looking forward to the next in the series. 

For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World by Michael W. Waters & Keisha Morris (Illustrations)

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It was released 22 Sep 2020, by Flyaway Books. 

 This book introduces us to a loving family. The story begins as Jeremiah, the young boy, asks his parents if he can grow locs. They agree and as the story, and time, passes, so does his hair. 

Over this span of time, the family’s news feed is too often filled with the deaths of different black boys. At one point the family is forced to shelter in their hallway because of gunfire in the street. With each death, Jeremiah asks questions his parents try to answer. Each one of these sections includes, “It doesn’t make sense,” and ends with a similar refrain, “But Jeremiah didn’t want to talk anymore.” 

 The parents are activists working to draw attention to these miscarriages of justice and to make change. Jeremiah worries about them. 

While this family might be fictional, the murdered youths are very real: Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, the Charleston Nine, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Jordan Edwards. All deaths, even those of five Dallas police officers are condemned. 

While this is a story of violence against black boys, it’s also about what to do to change it. Eventually, when Jeremiah’s locs are fully grown, he is ready to talk. He comes to his parents stating, “I’m tired of people hurting each other! I’m tired of people shooting each other! I’m tired of people killing each other! I’m tired of people hating each other just because they are different or because of the color of their skin!” His parents echo his feelings. What follows is a collection of actions for what the family does to enact change. 

Keisha Morris’ illustrations are flat out gorgeous. Michael W. Waters prose is profound. It's important that this book shows the impact of violence against black boys on other black boys. It's equally important that it directs readers towards changing the racist system. 

In the author’s note, Michael Waters explains his motivation for writing this book. The back matter also includes a discussion guide with specific categories: Preparing Yourself for the conversations, Establishing a Safe Space, Speaking about Race in the Classroom, Speaking About Violence in the Classroom, Exploring Change-Making and Discussing This Book At Home.

Highly Recommended.