Poetry Friday June 29, 2018

Last weekend, my little sister, Zoe, became one of those numbers in the fentanyl overdose tally. From the very beginning her life was hard. She never really fit into what we might call normal. Eventually she was diagnosed with bipolar disease, but by then she was also a drug addict. She went through long periods of time when she didn't use hard drugs, but when her disease became unmanageable, she always slipped back into addiction. 

Taking Flight

I’m so angry
I’m so sad

your illness led you to
take stupid risks
make stupid decisions
as a mom
you did the best you could
loving your babies with everything you had
but it wasn't enough
you left scars, invisible,
but nonetheless real
i saw the best of you
working side by side in the garden
and the day you charmed
my granddaughter to bits
i wish you could have seen yourself
through her eyes
i wish you could have loved yourself
with as much love as she and we all loved you

I’m so angry
I’m so sad

you wanted to soar
but couldn't fly
you had wings,
that didn't work
at least not in the way that the other birds
who teased, taunted, and bullied you did
you led a secret life
where demons held sway
so you bargained with the devils
to silence their chorus
and find a few moments of solace
in imaginary flight

Fly free now little sister,
Fly free

I’m so angry
I’m so sad

we always knew you would be first
only we thought you were getting better
more aware,
more in control
you tried hard to be the kind of person
you wanted to be
we wanted you to be
but pretending is hard
and honesty even harder
with lies and secret relief
appeasing, easing your
broken wings
broken heart
broken mind

Fly free now little sister,
Fly free

#IMWAYR June 25, 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.

I managed to get my picture book pile under control just in time to pick up another one from the library. 

I've joined up with Sue Jackson for the #BigBookSummer read again this year. You can read my post about my choices here. I'm hoping to read at least four books on my list. Most of them are on some other reading goal list for this year as well, so I hope to make lots of progress all over the place. So far I've finished one book and have another on the go!


4 stars
Boat of Dreams by Rogério Coelho

It's easy to get lost inside the details Rogério Coelho fills these pages with. I love the contrast between almost overwhelming clutter and then almost stark simplicity. I love the multiple perspectives.
This book is sure to leave readers wondering what is going on here and questioning what the story is all about. For me, I wonder about the relationship between the young boy and the old man. Who are they and why are they important to each other? Coelho tells us how the story came to be, but gives us no answers to these questions in the cover notes.


5 stars
If I Had a Horse by Gianna Marino

This is my favourite picture book this week. The text is simple but powerful. The illustrations, right from the end papers, are to swoon over. I'm not exaggerating. I reread it at least three times and each time I wanted to lose myself in these colour washes. Told in silhouette and prose a young person imagines how their life would be different if only they had a horse. Make sure you read this. It's glorious!

3 stars
Boom Bah! by Phil Cummings & Nina Rycroft (Illustrator)

This was ok. The illustrations are charming and the rhyme and pattern are fun.

4 stars
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen (Illustrator)

As a knitter myself, there’s no way I couldn’t love this book.

3 stars
Where's The Fly? by Caron Lee Cohen

I liked the idea of this better than how it works. It's a book about where things are in the context of a larger place. Although I enjoyed the illustrations, I wish it could have kept the original spot in the illustrations but as soon as we get to the town level, it disappears.

4 stars
Coyote's New Suit by Thomas King & Johnny Wales (Illustrator)

I'm sure I've read a version of this one before, but it is still delightful. It has a lot to teach us about greed and foolishness.

4 stars
I'm Bored by Michael Ian Black & Debbie Ridpath Ohi (Illustrator)

As soon as I opened this book I knew I had read it before, but it was still worth reading again. Kids really are remarkably creative and rambunctious aren't they?


5 stars
Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters by Michael James Mahin & Evan Turk (Illustrator)

This book is as beautifully written as it is illustrated. Both will knock your socks off and, if you are like me, send you off to find some Muddy Waters to listen to.

5 stars
Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say

My heart aches for James Castle, the artist who’s life and work Allan Say writes about here. While it’s an imagined biography, James Castle, an artist, did exist. His story is sure to inspire important classroom conversations about diversity, acceptance, and how we treat others.


5 stars
Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault (Illustrator), Christelle Morelli (Translator), Susan Ouriou (Translator)

This is one of those graphic novels that I would purchase for my library if only I still ran one. It's a powerful story about a teenaged girl being bullied by her former best friends. The book references Jane Eyre. It's through reading it that our protagonist finds comfort and hope.
I was distressed that these 'friends' harassed her by fat shaming her, including writing publicly that she weighed 216. The thing is that the images just don't reflect that this young girl is anything but normal. I'm not going to spoil the book for you by revealing the ending, just know that this book looks hard at body image issues and girl on girl bullying.  It also shows us how important it is for individuals to become allies and not remain silent when this kind of behaviour goes on.


3 1/2 stars
Restart by Gordon Korman

Gordon Korman does plot really well and this book is proof of it. These characters aren’t as well developed as those in Mastermind, but I think readers will like this story of a teen who ends up with amnesia and discovers that he doesn't much like who he was.

5 stars
Granted by John David Anderson & Cassandra Morris (Narrator)

Wow! This is no wussy fairy book! It deals with important social issues and will leave you wondering about magic and how we can bring more of it into our world. We sure do need it.
I adored the dog, Sam. Cassandra Morris' narration of his voice is about as perfect as it could be.
The only fairy book I've loved as much of this one is The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz.

4 stars
Showing Off (Upside-Down Magic #3) by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, Emily Jenkins & Rebeccal Soler (Narrator)

I love what this series has to teach all of us about acceptance and finding and nurturing our own special powers.


I'm listening to Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, one of my #MustreadNF titles and also one of my #BigBookSummerReads. With my eyes I'm reading Ban This Book by Alan Gratz and Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows by Asia Citro.


I'm hoping to get to Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz and plan to listen to whatever comes up next. Truthfully I'm not sure how much reading I will accomplish as it is the last week of school here in BC and I'm not sure how busy I'll be. On top of that I'm celebrating my 65th birthday on Tuesday. There will be adult beverages. 


#MustReadIn2018 16/25 1 in progress

#MustReadNFIn2018 5/12 1 in progress

#BigBookSummer 1/4 1 in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 9/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 217/333

2018 Big Books Summer Reads

This summer I'm joining other readers who plan to read some weighty tomes. The challenge begins at the end of May and continues through to the Labour Day weekend. The only rule is that the book has to be at least 400 pages. You can read as many or as few books as you want.

You can find out more about this challenge at Sue Jackson's blog, Book By Book.

I went through my Goodreads list and found a few that fit this description and so here I am again. At first my list had way too many books. I eliminated those that were not already on my Mustread list for this year. I figure I might as well double up and make gains on a couple of challenges for one book. My list is still too long, but if I can read at least 4 of these books this summer I'll be ahead of the game. I've already finished one, so who knows? I might even read more! 

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier
The Boat People by Sharon Bala  
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta
Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini
Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth
Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism by Daisy Hernandez
The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein
Zero Repeat Forever (The Nahx Invasions #1) by Gabrielle Prendergast
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel A. van der Kolk
Diamond Boy by Michael Williams


#IMWAYR June 18, 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.

I must first apologize for not getting to everyone's posts last week. It was an intense week. Between finishing sewing projects, working, and preparing for a big party on Saturday, and then the Father's day stuff on Sunday, I am done in!

I didn't get much reading accomplished. Thank goodness for audiobooks which I listened to while sewing, and for picture books that don't require a focus for long duration.

Here are the sewing projects I finished:

First off, these are some coasters that I finished for my sister whose birthday was on the day of our celebration for the babies. The hardest part of this project was the fussy cutting. 

Here are the matching shirts I finished for my daughter in law and grandson for her birthday which was last weekend. I forgot to take a picture of them wearing them. 

Finally, these are the matching overalls I made for my grandchildren. Unfortunately, my iphone doesn't do camera colours well as these are more teal than blue.

Now that it is all over, I hardly know what to do with myself. Fortunately, or unfortunately, there is a garden to weed.


I know I've shared a few of the books that we received from Korea, but I've been meaning to share a few more of them and today seems like the perfect time. (None of the ISBN numbers register in Goodreads) All of these books have an interactive quality that I once thought was adorable, but when the baby learns how to press buttons, and loves having music of any kind on in the background, it can get to be irritating. Luckily, most of these books have on/off switches and she hasn't figured out how to work them yet.

This first book has to do with using the toilet. If you turn the handle, you hear the sound of a toilet flushing. The little pink button makes a fart noise, and the blue button sounds like someone peeing. The yellow and brown button produces a song that my daughter in law tells me is all about having accomplished a happy, pretty poo.

The inside pages show animals and people using the facilities. Our little ones are not yet big enough to start being toilet trained, but I think this book is ingenious and sure wish we had something like this when my boys were young.

This  book is very appropriate since it is all about celebrating a birthday. The buttons on this one turn on the candles, make all kinds of celebratory noises, play music and sing songs in both Korean and English. The little pink cake button on the bottom left hand corner turns the power on. Ada has learned how to use it. Thankfully they are not all this easy. 

These candles glow red in real life, but my iphone doesn't do colours well. The most fascinating thing about this book is that once you have pressed the button so that the candle light goes on, all you have to do is blow on them and they go out. Ada is able to take those little candles out and put them back in. 

I used to worry that these interactive features would interfere with my granddaughter's love for regular books, but I've let go of that. She now climbs up on my lap with books she wants me to read with her. 


4 stars
Ho-limlim: a Rabbit Tale from Japan by Keizaburō Tejima

I wrote about three of Keizaburō Tejima's books last week and I picked this one up from my library since then. I adore the illustrations just as much. This Japanese folk tale is an interesting story of an older rabbit who sets out to go on adventure. On the surface it's a story of how his eyesight doesn't see things as well as he used to, but it's also a metaphor for how what we think we see isn't necessarily what is really going on. Now I just need to track down a copy of Owl Lake and Bear's Autumn.

3 1/2 stars
Shh! My Brother's Napping by Ruth Ohi

Charming illustrations are accompanied by rhyming text that works. The humour of the text is filled in with art and sometimes missing words that because of the pattern and rhyme, are easy to predict. There is a lot of love shown in this relationship between the young girl and her sleeping brother. The surprise ending is delightful.


4 stars
Not So Different: What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability by Shane Burcaw & Matt Carr (Photographer)

I liked this, but then, I am biased. My father was injured at work when he was 25, and used a wheelchair to get around after that. He too was comfortable with people asking him questions. Like Shane, there was much he could do in his chair, not the least was being an awesome dad!
I knew a tiny bit about SMA before, and learned more from reading this. I like that these photographs are loaded with humour and that we get to know the person behind the wheelchair.
I want to read this book with a group of children to see how they respond. I sure wish it had been around when I was younger.


5 stars
Ravensong by Lee Maracle

This book is the prequel to Celia's Song, a book I read earlier this year. This was set in 1954, whereas Celia's Song is set in more recent times. It was interesting in that many events that happened in this book were referenced in that one. The story is told from the perspective of Celia's older sister, Stacey who is attending her last year of white high school across the bridge from their village. She plans to go to UBC and become a teacher after graduation.
Like in Celia's Song, Maracle makes us aware of the differences between her people's way of seeing the world and our own. Both are important books that I can't recommend highly enough. I'm looking forward to our bookclub meeting to talk about it.
My brilliant niece, Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, has written an in depth post about this book here: https://caseythecanadianlesbrarian.com/2012/11/25/a-review-of-lee-maracles-ravensong-queering-decolonization-decolonizing-queerness/

5 stars
The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall & Susan Denaker (Narrator)

I adore the Penderwick family. Each book is like a visit with a family of old friends where I get to watch their children grow up. This book is told from the perspective of the youngest of the clan, Lydia, when the family returns to Arundel for Rosalind's wedding. This is as delightful as the rest of the series. I am heartbroken that this is the finale.


I'm listening to Granted by John David Anderson. Cassandra Morris' narration is delightful and the book is turning out to be much more than I first anticipated it would be. I have made a bit of headway with Restart by Gordon Korman and plan to complete it in the next couple of days!


I have a mess of picture books checked out from the library that I intend to finish and return this week or else!


#MustReadIn2018 15/25 1 in progress

#MustReadNFIn2018 5/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 8/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 203/333