#IMWAYR September 25, 2017

#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.

Sunday we celebrated my son's birthday and the grandkids 100th day party. I tried to do the prep on Saturday. The cake was nearly a disaster because I couldn't find the cake pans. Then when I made the icing it turned out that someone had put flour in with the icing sugar. It's a good thing I tasted it before putting it on the cake. Thankfully my partner came to the rescue both times and it all worked out in the end. I headed off Sunday morning to go to the Reconciliation Walk here in Vancouver. I had a lovely time hanging out with extended family before coming home and finishing up the supper celebration details. 



5 stars
The Snow Knows by Jennifer McGrath & Josée Bisaillon (Illustrations)

Josee Bisaillon's illustrations wowed me right from the start. I mean, just look at that cover! The soft pastels in the shades of snow are contrasted with bold tree trunks, foliage, grasses, and numerous animals. Jennifer McGrath's text consists of a lyrical poem filled with alliteration and some rhymes. The snow knows is a refrain that is repeated throughout.

5 stars

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Jon Klassen has outdone himself with this one. He fits so much about human nature into this deceptively simple picture book about two turtles who find a hat. 
The ending fills my heart with joy.

3 stars
Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket & Lisa Brown (Illustrations)

I might have given this more stars but am perhaps influenced by the fact that I read this to my granddaughter and she wasn't impressed.
I do like a lot about this book: the seek and find aspects, the pile of fish picture books on the stand, the idea of ghosts living among us, and the message of finding your own people.


5 stars
The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk by Jan Thornhill

This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers to The now extinct Great Auk. We learn how it lived and survived and how those qualities that made it formidable in the water, left it vulnerable to predators on land. Thornhill shows us how humans have been their primary predators for millennium, but it wasn't until technology enabled humans to sail across the oceans that their decline and end became imminent.
This book is loaded with information: so much that it is text heavy on many pages. It is the perfect nonfiction picture book to read with older readers.


5 stars
The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner

I started writing about this book and got so carried away, decided to turn it into it's own post. 
I just adored it. This story of a very incompetently bad fox is hilarious and tender at the same time. It's full of full of all kinds of adventures and mishaps, but ultimately is a book about love and family. I will have a full review posted next week. 


4 stars
Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson

Rosa is a 14 year old black girl growing up in Mississippi in 1955. Her life with her grandparents is hard, but at least she has a roof over her head. She dreams of escaping her situation by becoming a doctor and moving North. Rosa is devastated when she has to say home and work on the cotton farm instead. The story is set against the backdrop of the murder of Emmett Till, a young black man from Chicago visiting relatives in the state. It reveals a complicated history of racism and resistance to it. This isn't a comfortable read. Even though the violence isn't terribly graphic, it's still enough to leave me with a sense of bearing witness.


4 stars
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean & Bernadette Dunne (Narrator)

This was a fascinating book to listen to. Maclean tracks the beginnings of the libertarian movement and the work of the economist James Buchanan through to the political machinations of the Koch brothers. Her premise is that they are the authors of a concerted effort to undermine democracy and reframe American as a libertarian utopia. I admit that I am not really able to critique the author's scholarship. What I can say is that it is very readable. I learned a lot about libertarianism! When I finished I spent some time reading other people's reviews, both positive and negative. I think this one here addresses many of the negative reactions. 

4 stars
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I suspect this book would be better read with eyes than listened to. Except that it is achingly bittersweet to hear Amy Krouse Rosenthal's voice reading her own words. It's an experience of both joy and loss at the same time.


4 stars
Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos, and Me by Lorina Mapa

Lorina Mapa tells of growing up in the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos. It's revealed in flashbacks as she returns from Canada for her father's funeral. We learn that he was a remarkable man and their relationship was a loving and rich one. 
I learned a lot about the history and culture as I read this. As someone who comes from a large connected family I especially felt her loss when she moved to Canada, so far from all of her relatives.


I've just started listening to Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Five minutes into it I was completely smitten. I'm also reading When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. I'm not starting any more nonfiction until I've finished The Inconvenient Indian.


I'll start Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and then go on to Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez. My next audiobook will be whatever comes up next in my holds.


#MUSTREADIN2017 25/36

#MUSTREADNFIN2017 7/12 1 in progress

50 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 28/50 1 in progress

Chocolate Lily (CL) 51/51

Big Book Challenge 4/6

Goodreads Reading Challenge 301/333

Mr. Crum's Potato Predicament by Anne Renaud & Felicita Sala

We are warned in the endpapers. 
"The story you are about to savor is a fictional tale with a helping of truth."
It sets the tone for the rest of this delectable reading adventure. 

Mr George Crum really was a renowned chef of mixed Native American and African American descent. Before he started cooking he had many other adventures, but those are not included in this book. 

He owned a famous restaurant where people came from far away to taste his inventive "sorbets, souffles, stews, succotashes, ragouts, and goulashes." He introduced them to all kinds of strange delicacies. 

Then came the day Filbert P. Horsefeathers, a peculiarly dressed man, came into the cafe and ordered, "Just potatoes."

George tried feeding him potato wedges fried in lard, but the customer sent them back. George then fried potatoes with thinner wedges. Again the man declined them. 

Eventually George created the perfect potato chip that satisfied the "finicky, persnickety Filbert Punctilious Horsefeathers."

George Crum was known to have a playful sense of humour, and the illustrations in this book capture this spirit delightfully. 

I love the luscious language. I've given you a hint earlier on as to the alliteration, but the interjections used by Gladys, the waitress, are just as priceless:

Well, huckleberry biscuits!
Well, flying flapjacks!

I urge readers to search out the definition of horsefeathers and other words in the book. Never will using a dictionary be so much fun!

The book begs to be read outloud. The reader will have as much fun, if not more, as the listeners. 

The backmatter contains additional (and authentic) information about this remarkable person. I hope the book inspires young readers to learn more about him. It did me. That's how I learned all about what he did before he took to cooking!

Letters to a Prisoner by Jacques Goldstyn

This wordless book tells the story of a man who held political views in opposition to the government. The differences between the two stances are portrayed symbolically by people carrying signs with orange circles and an army with black squares. During a peaceful protest the man was arrested and thrown in prison.

The illustrations show us what it was like for him in solitary confinement and capture his descent from anger to despair.

His memories while in prison show us the man as an ordinary person with a loving family. It is a reminder that, "there but for fortune, may go you or I."

All kinds of people, old & young, famous and ordinary, from across the globe write letters in many different languages to the man in prison. When the prison is bombarded by these letters, the prisoner is finally freed.

The book ultimately highlights the importance of Amnesty International's Write for Rights campaign and shows us the power of letter writing to make change. It does this by bolstering hope and reminding prisoners that they are not alone. Ultimately it can force governments to release people and change their policies.

At the end of the book is a letter from the author providing more information about Amnesty International's Write for Rights campaign.

#IMWAYR September 18, 2017

#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.

The tomatoes are finished! We now have 71 litres of tomato juice, 36 litres of canned tomatoes, 41 half litres of tomato sauce, 34 half litres of salsa, and 10 litres of tomato soup to get us through this year. Hopefully most of it will last a couple of years, b.ut I'm not holding my breath. 

I've spent this last weekend with four fabulous teacher librarian friends on Pender Island in a spacious glorious house. There were walks and talks, lots of time to read, fabulous food and a few bottles of wine. Saturday we headed off to the local farmer's market where unfortunately the gluten free vendor didn't show up. I suppose that is fortunate for my waistline. We explored the community thrift shop and then went in to explore the local library. Almost all of us headed straight to the children's department. I sat down and read the following couple of picture books before browsing the MG and YA novels. They have a remarkably fine collection of relevant books! 


4 stars
The Tin Forest by Helen Ward & Wayne Anderson (Illustrations)

This is a kind of steampunk picture book. It's the story of an old man who lives in a semi dystopian world next to a garbage dump. One day he is inspired to start creating art from metal refuse. He fashions flowers, trees and animals. Eventually he creates a world that attracts real animals and his artificial garden is transformed into a real one. 
Anderson's illustrations are richly detailed and gorgeous. Just look at the following illustration!

4 stars

Fossil by Bill Thomson

If you remember Chalk by Bill Thomson, you will have some idea of what this book is like. The illustrations are jaw droppingly stunning! In this wordless book a young boy is walking on a beach with his dog. He breaks open a rock and a fossil of a fern is revealed. A prehistoric fern appears. Then as he breaks open another fossil and finds a fossil of a large dragonfly, a huge prehistoric dragonfly begins flying around him. When he breaks open the fossil of a pteranodon, he and his dog are in serious trouble. 


4.5 stars
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

Imagine the future, 40 years from now, wherein climate change and global warming have caused the polar ice to melt. Massive storms continue to destroy coastal landscapes and the earth has responded with its own kind of the destruction: earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Corporate entities have poisoned the water supplies and sucked dry what fresh water was left in Northern Canada. White people have lost their ability to dream. They send out recruiters to capture indigenous people and bring them to  schools where their dream marrow is harvested. 
In the story we follow French, a young indigenous man, and the small group he has banded together with as they flee into the far reaches of the Northern Ontario wilderness in an effort to escape from the recruiters. They are unaware of the power they bring with them. 
There are direct connections between this book and residential schools of our past. I highly recommend this profound book to adult and YA readers. I would love to read it with a book club. 

4 stars
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau & Elizabeth Morton (Narrator)

In this futuristic dystopian novel the world has been nearly decimated by nuclear war. Cia Val, and a few others from their small community of Five Lakes, have been chosen to participate in 'The Testing', a process to determine who will get to attend university. It turns out to be a cutthroat endeavour. Cia is an admirable character with strong moral fibre. Her biggest challenge is to determine who she can trust. Fans of The Hunger Games will probably like this. I might even go on to read the next in the series. 

4 stars
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

This is a sweet coming of age romantic fiction that follows the formula set out in romantic Korean dramas. Teen romance is not my favourite genre, but I ended up enjoying this anyway. Thankfully there isn't excessive amounts of angst or heavy breathing. The diverse collection of characters is endearing in spite of, or perhaps because of their flaws. The only somewhat snarky relationship ends up getting resolved positively. I adored the relationships between Desi Lee and her father, and you will too.  


I'm in the middle of Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki. I've just started reading Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson and listening to Textbook by Amy Krause. I'm plugging away at The Inconvenient Indian.


Democracy by Nancy MacLean will be my next audiobook. Other than that I'll just tackle what's in the pile and try to get my netgalley collection under control. I have to work on finishing up and posting a mess of reviews!


#MUSTREADIN2017 25/36

#MUSTREADNFIN2017 7/12 1 in progress

50 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 28/50 1 in progress

Chocolate Lily (CL) 51/51

Big Book Challenge 4/6

Goodreads Reading Challenge 292/333