10 Cents A Pound by Nhung N. Tran-Davies & Josée Bisaillon (Illustrator)

The love between a mother and daughter is celebrated in this jaw droppingly gorgeous picture book.

It's set in Vietnam, where the mother works picking coffee beans for 10 cents a pound. This money is used to pay to pay for school books, shoes and to send her daughter away to school so that she has a better life.

The poetry is expressed in two lyrical voices - those of the mother and the daughter. It's through these two voices that we see the love and sacrifice of the mother, and the child's understanding of how hard her mother's life is.

This wish of the mother, for a better life for her daughter, will resonate for all families. Eventually the daughter realizes that living the kind of life her mother envisions for her is the best way she can help her.  I love this image of her flying away. 

Josée Bisaillon's artwork creates a stunning backdrop to the story at the same time as it reveals the smaller details of the mother's suffering: her stooped back, her calloused and blistered feet and failing eyes.

My only complaint is that the text is small and the book is very short. In spite of this, the book will be an important addition to libraries in part because of the relationship between mother and child, and in what it reveals about the lives of people in other parts of the world. 

Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package By Kate DiCamillo & Chris Van Dusen (illustrator)

Oh Eugenia! My heart aches for you. Is there anything worse than having no joy in your life?

When Eugenia Lincoln receives an accordion from an anonymous benefactor, she is not impressed. At first she tries to return it to the manufacturer, but they do not take returns. When she puts an advert in the paper to sell it, a Monsieur Gaston LaTreaux arrives at her doorstep. Rather than purchasing the instrument, he has arrived to give Eugenia lessons.

The problem of course is that Eugenia is a no nonsense, seriously in control kind of person. Playing the accordion, especially given the feelings it triggers in her, is just too scary to deal with. After an evening of frivolity by everyone but her, Eugenia decides to get rid of the blasted accordion once and for all. Thankfully, she runs into Stella Endicot who shows her that playing the accordion is not such a terrible thing. 

By the end of the book the secret of who ordered the accordion is revealed, but I shall leave it for you to read and find out for yourself.

I read this book at least three times. I loved it. Chris Van Dusen's illustrations add joy and humour into the tale. Yet there was something niggling me, something disturbing that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Eventually I realized that I was finding bit of myself in Eugenia. It wasn't comfortable. I too am a bossy, responsible elder sibling. My two younger brothers and two younger sisters probably agree that is a good thing that we do not live together. Somewhere in storage I even have an accordian that someone gave me. I kept it hoping that my musical sons would play it. I have now come to realize its purpose. Unfortunately, I doubt a Monsieur Gaston LaTreaux will come along and magically teach me to play. I will just have to make sure that I keep on singing.

I suspect there is a bit of Eugenia in all of us.

Those of you who know of Kate DiCamilla's work understand that she writes important books for children. What you might not know is that under the guise of writing for children, she writes important books for adults. Her Deckawoo Drive stories show how our interactions with children ensures our own metamorphosis. Thank you Kate for showing us we are never to old to change and be the best we can be.

For more information about the series you can read about Baby Lincoln here, Francine Poulet here, and Leroy Ninkers here

#IMWAYR March 26, 2018

#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 was a productive week for me. I have been feeling guilty about my netgalley account so I decided to explore how many books I am behind. I discovered that I had numerous books downloaded onto my device. I had even read some of them, but didn't write one word. I am surprised that Netgalley still lets me have anything to do with them.

I finished the last session of the Backyard Beekeeping workshop this weekend. I have decided that I need to work as an apprentice beekeeper before investing thousands of dollars and killing off my poor bees. There are a lot of diseases and pests to worry about!





Ada hung out with me Friday night while everyone else in the house watched a creepy movie downstairs. While I was reading my adult book, I looked over and caught this. I watched for a bit before grabbing my phone.
This is what a nine month old reader looks like!

5 stars
A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na

The art in this book is just stunning! Ada wasn't as impressed as I was, but I figure that given a few more readings, it will become one of her favourites.

5 stars
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton

I read this one with Everett while I was babysitting him. We both enjoyed it. Both the images and the rhythm in the poetry are so much fun! Then I went looking for the song so that 'we' could sing along with it.

There is an official song to accompany the book, but we (I) like this version best.


4 stars
Ask Me by Bernard Waber, Suzy Lee (Illustrator)

Thank you Myra G for reconnecting me with Suzy Lee! This gentle book by Bernard Waber showcases a loving relationship between a father and his daughter. Suzy Lee's gorgeous illustrations in it are just perfect!

4 stars
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh

This is an important book. When a young rabbit's papa doesn't return home from working in the fields of the north, he heads out in search of him. Through his journey readers learn what it is like to travel to a new land as an 'illegal' migrant worker.
Duncan Tonatiuh's art blows my mind just like it always does.
The back matter provides vocabulary explanations as well as including more in depth information.


This is a book that provides information about the life cycle of the salmon through the lens of the Gitxsan people in Northern BC. It's a beautiful book that takes the reader into a different way of knowing the world. If you want to see more of Natasha Donovan's gorgeous illustrations, click on the link to my blog post about it.

4 stars
Fabulous Frogs by Martin Jenkins & Tim Hopgood (Illustrations)

This is a wonderful introduction to the world of frogs. It provides plenty of basic information in two formats. The large print on the page reveals a main idea and then the small print provides additional information.
The end papers show frogspawn and tadpoles in different stages of development. The first two page spread is filled with information about frogs and shows the different stages in a frogs life in silhouette. The next page spread takes the reader to the title page. There is an index at the back of the book.
While I appreciate information books filled with photographs, I think there is also a place for illustrated gems like this one, especially one about frogs when the artist's last name is Hopgood!


5+ stars
Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy (Charlie & Mouse #2) by Laurel Snyder & Emily Hughes (Illustrations)

5 stars just isn't enough! Grumpy reminds me a lot of my partner, who we call Grumpy, because he is VERY grumpy in the mornings no matter how much he loves his grandbabies. Perhaps this Grumpy isn't a grandparent. I suppose Grumpy could be a favourite uncle. What's certain is that there sure is a lot of love between Charlie, Mouse and him.
Like the first in this series, we get to spend time with this delightful family while they go about their daily business of ordinary living. I have so much love for all of them!

5 stars
Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package (Tales from Deckawoo Drive #4) by Kate DiCamillo & Chris Van Dusen (Illustrations)

I started writing a few words about this book, but the more I wrote, the more I had to write about. I've decided to do a full blog post about it. Besides, since I gave Leroy Ninker, Francine Poulet, and Baby Lincoln their own posts, it's only fair that Eugenia get her own too!
The most important thing about this book is that like the other books in the Deckawoo Drive series, it is as much for adults as children.


The Pemmican Wars refers to a little known chunk of Canadian history. The Metis were caught in the middle of a conflict between the two main fur trading organizations: the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company. Readers learn more about this through Echo, who travels back in time to 1814, and experiences these events first hand. Check out the blog post if you want to know more and are interested in seeing samples of the stunning artwork.


4 stars
Ellie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce

I am delighted with this novel about a young girl's who loves frilly dresses and making things. The image of a young girl in a poufy dress with a work belt fastened around her waist epitomizes the gamut of available choices we want for our children.
Ellie ends up getting into trouble when she enlists different people into helping her make a surprise gift of a doghouse for her best friend's birthday.
I had some trouble with the initial boys vs girls dynamics, although the characters do seem to deal with it positively by the end.

4 stars
Almost Home by Joan Bauer & Brittany Pressley (NARRATOR)

This is a sweet novel about a young girl and her mother who end up homeless. Sugar, the protagonist, is a character you can't help but cheer for. When her mother has a mental breakdown, Sugar ends up in foster care with a loving couple. It isn't certain by the end of the book whether or not she will return to live with her mother, but there is certainly hope.


4 stars
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson & Bernadette Dunne (Narrator)

This was darkly compelling. I was hooked almost immediately. Six years ago most of the inhabitants of the castle were poisoned and died when someone put arsenic in the sugar bowl. Merricat Blackwood, her elder sister Constance, and their frail Uncle Julian, are the only survivors. Constance was charged with the murders but in the end was acquitted. She now suffers from agoraphobia and doesn't leave the house. Merricat has to go into town and deal with the hatred and harassment from the villagers. 
When their cousin Charles shows up, he manages to fool Constance into thinking he is on their side. Uncle Julian and Merricat know better, but John still ends up bringing disaster upon them.
Although it isn't spoken of til the end of the book, figuring out who really poisoned the family is pretty obvious.
It's the intimacy of the everyday evil in this story that is both fascinating and terrifying. Thankfully it is countered with an abundance of unconditional love.

5+ stars
This Accident of Being Lost: Songs and Stories by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

5 stars isn't enough for this one either! 
It's authors like Leanne Betasamosake Simpson that make me thankful for setting a goal to read more Indigenous Canadian authors. I honestly have no words that can come close to doing her work justice. It's at times tender, brutal, profound, snarky and hilarious.

There are lines that cut deep:

"this is how to die in a war
they insist doesn't exist"

There are poems so universal they leave a mark on your heart. Constellation is one of these. Here are a few lines:

i'll stand at the foot of your lake
i'll wait in the grass when you take it too far
i'll give you the keys to all the canoes
i'll sing to you until you sing back

There are political truths that make you cringe as this excerpt from Situation Update shows:

I am imagining myself being interviewed by CBC on the “Aboriginal” perspective of the flood. First I imagine the interviewer trying to lead me to saying shit like, “Mother earth is so powerful. The water so sacred. White people shouldn’t build their houses up on the sand.”

Then I imagine myself getting all aggressive in trying to get them to see the double standard reporting flooding in Calgary and not reporting flooding in say Attawapiskat. But they never get that. Because it’s inconvenient for them we’re not dead. The whole scenario doesn’t even make sense, because the CBC only wants our opinions on corrupt Chiefs, child poverty, and conflict within the AFN.

I can't recommend this collection highly enough!


I'm in the middle of Thousand Star Hotel by Bao Phi! It's also a window into another way of knowing the world.  The Bee Book, a DK title is consuming my nonfiction reading life these days. I will purchase if I decide to get serious about keeping bees. Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin and read by Kim Mai Guest is the audiobook I'm listening to. I'm reading Precious Cargo: My Year Driving the Kids on School Bus 3077 by Craig Davidson.


I'll listen to whatever comes available next. The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor is next on my reading with my eyes list. I'm still hoping to get to Oil's Deep State: How the petroleum industry undermines democracy and stops action on global warming - in Alberta and Ottawa by Kevin Taft. It's just that these days my fascination with bees gets in the way!


#MustReadIn2018 10/25 1 in progress

#MustReadNFIn2018 2/12 

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 6/25 

Goodreads Reading Challenge 109/333

Pemmican Wars (A Girl Called Echo) by Katherena Vermette, Scott B. Henderson (Illustrator) & Donovan Yaciuk (Colourist)

A young Metis girl, Echo Desjardins, travels back in time to 1814. While there she learns about her Metis ancestry and how they were caught in the crossfire in the battle between the Northwest Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company. This little known aspect of Canadian History is known as The Pemmican Wars.

The time travelling alternates with Echo’s life in a foster home and at a new school. 
It begins with a young girl looking out across a beautiful vista of the Qu’Appelle Valley (now called Saskatchewan). She connects with a group of Metis who are at their summer camp hunting and preserving buffalo. This first episode was triggered during her history class.

This beginning, and great swathes of the rest of book are without text. The intense isolation and loneliness of Echo’s day to day life is portrayed powerfully in wordless frames that show her moving from class to class at school, and then heading to her room when she returns to her foster home. Most of the story is conveyed in the gorgeous images alone.

The book concludes with Echo meeting with her mother having a conversation about their Metis roots with the words, "to be concluded…." at the bottom of the page. This ending felt abrupt and incomplete. It left me feeling irritated. The next book in the series, Red River Resistance, will be published in September. I am looking forward to it and hope, even if it is merely a continuation of the series, that the ending is more satisfying.

For readers who want to know more about this aspect of Canadian history, there is a timeline at the end of the book that outlines significant events. There is also a recipe for pemmican.

The Sockeye Mother by Hetxw'ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson) & Natasha Donovan (Illustrator)

In early spring, during the time of Wihlaxs (the Black Bear’s Walking Moon), salmon fry leave their hatching grounds in search of nursing water. It doesn't take long for these tiny fish to become independent of their yolk sacs. After a couple of years, the little sockeye becomes a smoult, preparing itself to move from freshwater to the saltwater of the ocean. When the spring salmon make their trek up the Skeena River, it is time for these smoults to make their journey to the sea.

The Gitxsan, who live near the Skeena River, prepare their nets to capture these spring salmon. A ceremony is held to give thanks and pray that the salmon will always return and nourish the people and land.

The smoults who make it to the Pacific swim north to feed and grow. After two years, the “sockeye mother” swims against the current of the river to return to the exact place where she was spawned. This is the time of Lasa lik’i’nxsw (the Grizzly Bear’s Moon). People and bears catch thousands of salmon at this time. Grizzlys often carry their catch into the forest where they eat only the eggs and fatty bellies leaving the rest of the fish to decay and nourish the forest.

The salmon that make it to the nesting areas lay their eggs and “die a replenishing death” thus fertilizing the water and land.

What I love most about this book is how it highlights the Salmon’s role as a keystone species both ecologically and for the Gitxsan people in Northern BC, culturally. At the same time as it takes the reader through the life cycle of this important fish, it shows us how connected the people are to it during each phase.

I appreciated that the text uses Gitxsan terms and doesn’t hesitate to use challenging vocabulary. It explains that the sockeye has to avoid predators and “dodge the changing landscape denuded by the clear-cutting of man.” Some scientific vocabulary is explained in small text boxes. The back matter gives extra information about the Gitxsan people and shows a map of their unceded territory.

The sense of connection between people and salmon is there in the use of the Gitxsan language in the text, but it’s integral to the illustrations. The images are gorgeously coloured in the shades of the rainforest and river. Having visited this part of the world, I can attest that it captures the terrain brilliantly. What brings it all together though, is the use of traditional art into these landscapes.

All school libraries should own at least one copy of this book. 

Below is a video that provides a pronunciation guide for the language used as well as additional information.