#IMWAYR August 27, 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.

We are all breathing easier here in Vancouver, BC. Rain has come and cleaned out our air. It won't last because wildfires are still raging across the province, but right now just about everywhere is getting a bit of respite or at least an easing, from the smoke. Apparently the smoke has made it all the way across the country and is now affecting air quality in Nova Scotia!

I've managed to get some reading in this week, but honestly, I have been indulging in a guilty pleasure. I have discovered The Crown on Netflix and confess, there has been some binge watching. While I am watching I am also knitting, so something productive is accomplished!


5 stars
Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller & Jen Hill (Illustrations)

I suspect people wonder why I, a relatively full-fledged adult, still read picture books. I used to say I did it because I was a teacher librarian in an elementary school and had to know what was good. But here's the thing, aside from the art, which is often spectacular, a picture book takes one idea, that in the grown-up world can seem overwhelmingly complex, and makes it simple. This book exemplifies this.

The protagonist is a young girl who witnesses an event that leads to a peer being laughed at. The rest of the book has her asking what it means to be kind. In thirty two pages, the essence of what it means to be kind is revealed. While unpacking it, Pat Zietlow Miller doesn't make light of the challenges or possible missteps. At the same time, she highlights all the positive outcomes. Jen Hill's illustrations show us a multicultural world living in harmony. If only we can be kind.

If you are an adult, purchase this book for the younger ones in your life. Before you give it to them, read it a few times, just for yourself.

4 stars
The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds

What a gorgeous homage to the glorious power of words!

3.5 stars
There's a Pest in the Garden! (The Giggle Gang #2) by Jan Thomas

I am now officially caught up on the Giggle Gang series. This book is ok, but it's not as good as the others. While it's funny, it lacks that spark of laugh out loud humour. It still has the repetitive language and set up that will have young readers anticipating what will come next. As they pore over it again and again, they will happily become more competent readers.

4 stars
Night Out by Daniel Miyares

Miyares' illustrations are gorgeous in this nearly wordless picture book. A lonely young boy gets an invitation in the middle of the night. He accepts and ends up at an animal tea party.
The next day he has a story to share and friends to make.
It's all glorious, but it's this ending that wows me - this idea that our loneliness is diminished when we can tell our own stories and be heard.

3 stars
Rock 'n' Roll Soul by Susan Verde & Matthew Cordell (Illustrations)

I like the idea of this more than the reality. I tried reading the text silently, but it didn't work. I tried reading it out loud, but kept fumbling with finding a rhythm.
It's supposed to be on the wild side, and Matthew Cordell's illustrations really capture this.


4 stars
All That Trash: The Story of the 1987 Garbage Barge and Our Problem with Stuff by Meghan Mccarthy

What a fabulous nonfiction story. Not only does it tell us about a specific challenge of dealing with the garbage we create, the back matter is full of additional information about how much garbage we create today, and what happens to it. An interesting item from the main part of book acknowledges that Lowell Harrelson was ahead of his time.
Did you know that food in a landfill can become mummified?


4 stars
A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #2) by Louise Penny & Ralph Cosham (Narrator)

I'm late to realize how wonderful this series is, but now that I have discovered it, I'm planning on making up for lost time. I'm infatuated with the characters and the village of Three Pines. As I listened to the descriptions of winter, I found myself bundling into a warm quilt. I love how just when I think I've figured out who the murderer is, I discover I have it all wrong!


4 stars
Firewater: How Alcohol Is Killing My People (and Yours) by Harold Johnson

Johnson, an indigenous lawyer and judge, claims that alcohol is destroying Indigenous people. He asks indigenous a non-indigenous readers to look closely at what stories they have around their use of alcohol. He focusses on the historical stories connecting indigenous people to alcohol abuse and calls for these stories to be changed. He acknowledges that it isn’t going to be easy, and that it will require substantial changes to economic reality to be successful. He asserts that leaders in the community must maintain sobriety to enable them to model different stories for youth to emulate.

This quote has stuck with me.
"The economy is a powerful story. We give human sacrifice to it. There are people in poor countries who must starve to death because the economy story says that even though we have too much food in this part of the world, if we gave any to them, we would destroy the economy. We used to believe in dragons and unicorns. Now we believe in market forces. The economy doesn't exist. It's something we made up, and we give it power."

4 stars
Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt by Paul Arnett, William Arnett, Bernard Herman, Maggi McCormick Gordon, Diane Mott, Dilys Blum, Lauren Whitley, Amei Wallach , Joanne Cubbs

I did not read all the words, but I savoured all the images. The history and community behind these quilts reminded me of the ones my Grandmother pieced out of found fabric and then tied together. I wonder if this is where the roots of today's modern quilts come from?


I misplaced my library copy of One Native Life by Richard Wagamese last week. I searched high and low for it since I had to have it finished for my book club get together Monday. Today I went to see if I could possible have left it in the car. It wasn't there, but then I remembered sitting outside reading while Ada played in her little playground. I had left it there. Of course after weeks and weeks of drought, the rain had finally come and destroyed the book. I thought I would just purchase a new book for the library, but the hardcover is out of print. I sure wish I hadn't given my copy away to someone.

Other than that, I'm listening to The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea. I'll be focusing on finishing up Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth this week. It's one of my big books and I'm going to have to commit myself to have it completed by Labour Day!


I've managed to find an audiobook of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman so I plan on that as my next literary listening experience. I hope to get to She Loves You Yeah, Yeah, Yeah by Ann Hood, and All Summer Long by Hope Larson. I'll also dig into my pile of picture books.


#MustReadIn2018 19/25 1 in progress

#MustReadNFIn2018 6/12

#BigBookSummer 4/4 1 in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 15/25 1 in progress

Goodreads Reading Challenge 291/333

#IMWAYR August 20, 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've been away for a couple of weeks. First I got together with my siblings for a stone laying ceremony for our parents' grave at our home town of Oliver, BC. It was profound, but it was also a fabulous, fun, time. Then my sister and I worked together on a quilt. In the middle of that we wrote a eulogy and prepared for our other sister's funeral the following weekend. It was an emotional, difficult time. The service and get together afterwards was fine, but I'm still in that, can't quite believe it's real, stage.

I don't know what it's like where you are, but here in BC, wildfires are raging across the province. Our sky is thick with a grey haze that the sun shines eerily red orange through. Because I have asthma, I'm mostly stuck inside although I do venture out to putter in the garden or wander off for short walks. My head is plugged and my lungs ache all the time. It's nasty. I'm haunted by these lines from The Hollow Men by TS Elliot: 
"This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."

You would think I would at least get some reading done, but I haven't been in much of a reading mood. Unfortunately this means I have been returning more novels to the library these days than I read. The worrisome thing is that it's beginning to feel normal.

On a positive note, thanks to all of you helping me curate my reading life, everything I do read is exceptional!


4 stars
La Catrina: Emotions / Emociones: A Bilingual Book of Emotions
(Lil' Libros) by Patty Rodríguez

With board books and babies, there is no such thing as a finished date. I'm calling this one finished anyway even if I've only read it 10 times in the past few days. My granddaughter loves it. Her mother reads it to her in Spanish and I read it to her in English. She gets excited by each new expression, and is even a bit worried by the angry face.

Update: She now laughs at the scary faces and wants me to copy them.

Honestly, there is nothing better than reading with little ones.


4 stars
What Is Chasing Duck?
(The Giggle Gang #1) by Jan Thomas

The Giggle Gang series is ideal for fans of Elephant and Piggie. Something wild and hairy with big teeth is chasing Duck, Sheep and Donkey. Bear convinces them to stand up to their fears. Who is actually chasing them ends up being a hilarious surprise. 
Only one more to go and I will be caught up with this series. 

5 stars
I Walk with Vanessa: A Story about a Simple Act of Kindness
by Kerascoët

A powerful wordless book about the power of kindness and how to stand against bullying. As I was reading it I was reminded of Whitewash by Ntozake Shange.

5 stars
This Is Not a Picture Book!
by Sergio Ruzzier

I've been on a Sergio Ruzzier picture book binge these days. I am completely infatuated with his work. This one is a gorgeously illustrated celebration of the power of words. It's a metaphor for learning to read. As a duck reads a book without pictures, struggling at first to make sense of the text, the pages show the worlds the words take it into. The end papers are ingenious. The front ones are full of text where only some of the words are readable. The back ones tell the story that is in the book. I'm going to have to find another copy of this to read since the cover is taped over my library copy.

5 stars
Two Mice
by Sergio Ruzzier

Two mice head out on an adventure in a boat. They hit rocks, capsize, and nearly end up as dinner to baby birds before making it back home safe and sound.
It's the combination of the sparse text and delightful illustrations that make this book a hit. Using only the numbers, one, two, and three, the text is composed of two word phrases where the first word is one of these numbers. The rest of the story is revealed in the soft images.
I loved the humour in this. Even my one year old enjoyed it. It is the perfect book for children just breaking through into reading.

4 stars
Hey, Rabbit!
by Sergio Ruzzier

Rabbit’s suitcase is full of exactly what his friends need and want. The question is whether or not there will be anything left for him.
The images that spill out as each character opens the suitcase and removes their items are glorious. A leaf for the toucan becomes a jungle. The cat’s transformed ball of twine reminded me of my mother-in-law’s yarn stash!
My heart sang at the ending where Rabbit’s friends end up giving back to him just what he wants and needs. This message about the joy of reciprocity is one we can’t spread often enough.


5 stars
The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art
Barb Rosenstock & Claire A. Nivola (Illustrator)

I haven't met a Barb Rosenstock book I haven't loved, and this might be the best one yet. It tells the story of Nek Chand, folk artist extraordinaire, who created a hidden world that reflected the multiple stories of the town he grew up in.
Claire A. Nivola's illustrations are stunning. The full spread of photographs near the end of the book shows the magnitude of the work.

5 stars
by Lemniscates

Here in the middle of the summer, while forest fires rage across the world, I have been pondering the significance of trees and what happens when they disappear.
I like this book a lot. It's is beautifully illustrated in an abstract fashion. Each chunk of text imparts important information about trees. I am especially happy by the page that states, "Trees use their roots to communicate and to help one another." It's true, but I wasn't sure this nugget of truth would make it into a picture book.
We need to do more to save trees and ourselves.


4 stars
Escape from Syria
by Samya Kullab & Jackie Roche (Illustrations)

This fictional graphic novel follows a family of four as they are forced to leave their home in Aleppo and travel to Lebanon. There they live as refugees before finally making it to Canada. Although the characters themselves are fictional, they represent the very real experiences of ordinary Syrians.
This important book will educate readers about what it means to be a refugee.

4 stars
The Prince and the Dressmaker
by Jen Wang

Gorgeous artwork is the backbone of this story about a prince who likes to dress up in women's clothing. He hires his own seamstress, Frances, a talented clothing designer. Prince Sebastian becomes Lady Crystallia and her attire is copied by all the other ladies in the city. Unfortunately Frances gets none of the credit. Their lives become more and more complicated until things fall apart.
My heart ached for both of these characters who were caught in untenable circumstances. To be honest, while I liked this conclusion, it felt somewhat simplistic and outlandish. Still, I'm always happy with a happy ending.


5 + stars
Big Foot and Little Foot
by Ellen Potter & Felicita Sala (Illustrator)

How can you not love a book where children trade monster cards for stink sap and the school is organized like this:
“There were three classrooms in the Academy. Classroom One was for the younger squidges. Classroom Two was for squidges who are old enough to know better. Classroom Three was for squidges who thought they knew better than everyone else but really didn’t.”

Hugo is one of these young squidges in Classroom One. On a sneaking expedition with his class he sees a human. By chance, this same human, Boone, and Hugo end up writing letters to each other and eventually become friends.

Ellen Potter has created a world I want to be part of. I especially want to eat like a Sasquatch: hazel nut pancakes, wild mint juice, acorn butter and raspberry cream sandwiches, walnut pie, mushroom casserole, acorn butter cookies, gooseberry pie, walnut rumples, huckleberry trifles, and rosehip crunchers! There is a whole Sasquatch culture with baby Sasquatches called chuddles. That’s going to be my new word for my grand babies!
Ellen Potter never lets her readers down! I can’t wait to read the further adventures of Hugo and Boone.


5 stars
Dragon Overnight
(Upside-Down Magic #4) by Sarah Mlynowski (Goodreads Author), Emily Jenkins, Lauren Myracle & Rebecca Soler (Narrator)

I probably say this every time I read a new book in this series, but this is the best one so far. The UDM (Upside Down Magic) kids have magic that doesn't work the same way as other children's magic does. This can lead to some pretty exciting adventures and mishaps. In this one, Nory's class ends up on an overnight field trip at Dragon Haven with the grade five students from Sage Academy. Nory's father, their headmaster, is also there.
What I liked was how the students from this school appreciated the talents and skills of the UDM children. I also loved that Nory and her father seemed to come to a new kind of understanding.

4 stars
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
by Pablo Cartaya

What a collection of characters to become infatuated with! Sure it's the story of the little guy defeating the big, corrupt corporation, but it's also about family, friendship, first loves and food.

5 stars
by Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead

When I saw that two of my favourites children’s authors had collaborated on a book, I expected awesome. Have they ever delivered!
I want to have deep philosophical conversations about this book with other readers. 

4 stars
Long Way Down
by Jason Reynolds

Reynolds’ gorgeous writing grabbed me from the get-go. There's something slightly Dickensian about it. After his brother Shawn's death, Will sets off to follow The Rules: No crying. No snitching. Revenge. On his way down the elevator to finish up number 3, he is visited by numerous ghosts. Although there were moments that flagged a bit for me, that ending more than made up for it.


5 stars
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie & Zainab Jah (Narrator)

The best thing about historical fiction is what it teaches us about who we are, and what we don’t know about the world. I was a young teenager when this novel takes place. The only thing I knew from western media was about the starving Biafrans and how I better eat my vegetables. This book shows us, through the stories of three connected characters, how Biafra came to be, what it was like to live through the war, and how it was lost.


I'm rereading One Native Life by Richard Wagamese and have just picked up Firewater by Harold Johnson for my book club on the 27th. I'm also in the middle of Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth. Unfortunately three of the audiobooks I started listening to expired (Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg, The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman) so I am waiting for them to be available again. In the meantime I'm listening to A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny.


I'm hoping to get to Anger Is A Gift by Mark Oshiro, but it means I am going to have to be doing little else but reading for the rest of the week.


#MustReadIn2018 19/25 1 in progress

#MustReadNFIn2018 5/12 1 in progress

#BigBookSummer 4/4 1 in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 14/25 3 in progress

Goodreads Reading Challenge 282/333