#IMWAYR December 30, 2019

#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 hope you all had, or are still having a wonderful winter celebration. We had a fabulous time with all our family Christmas morning. There were a lot of squeals of delight from the toddlers who seem to understand that Santa brings fun!
I actually finished up all my home made presents! Socks for my husband, sweaters for the children, and poinsettia brooches for many. Bottles of my mother in law's special (not so secret anymore) sauce, Sucre Au Crรจme, went off to friends and extended family. I'm trying to ignore the few remaining bottles because that stuff is addicting.

My want to read list on Goodreads was haunting me. Last Saturday I went through and weeded books that, however fabulous they looked, I had to admit I would never get to. It's now down to 863 - but after I finish creating my 2020 Must Read lists, it might be smaller.

Titles with a ๐Ÿ indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

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


#MustReadIn2019 December Update


5 stars
A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel

Holy Carumba! Yes, this is about perspective, but the scope of it embraces such vastness as geological time. It's deeply philosophical. I would love to read this to a group of students and spend some time thinking about how we are like the stone as it,

sat where it sat
with the water, grass, and dirt
and it was as it was
where it was in the world.

How would we be seen and experienced by those around us?

5 stars
A Drop of the Sea by Ingrid Chabbert, Raรบl Nieto Guridi (Illustrations)

I am a huge fan of this duo's work at anytime. Maybe it's because I am now a grandparent, but I tend to love these books that highlight the special connection between generations. The relationship between these two characters, the boy and his grandmother, is what this book is all about. I love the symbolic representation of them. So much is revealed in Guridi's abstract art about who they are. What strikes me as profound is that while the boy heads off to the sea to bring it back to his grandmother, this heading off and achieving more for themselves than we could, is what we as parents and grandparents want for our offspring.

5 stars
Carl and the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman

This beautifully illustrated book is rich with layers of meaning. Whether you are pondering deeply philosophical questions about our purpose in life, or helping students understand biomes and the interconnectedness of food webs, you need this book.

4 stars
Nya's Long Walk: A Step at a Time by Linda Sue Park & Brian Pinkney (Illustrations)

When Nya's little sister becomes ill on their walk home from getting water, she must find a way to carry both her, and the water home. This is a powerful message about how to manage what seems to be an overwhelming task: just take it a bit at a time. I appreciate that this companion book to Linda Sue Park's novel A Long Walk to Water might not be based on real characters, it's still full of all kinds of truths.


3 stars
The Crossover (Graphic Novel) by Kwame Alexander & Dawud Anyabwile (Illustrations)

I liked this well enough, but thought the original was superior. I missed the emotional connection I experienced in the first book. It might be that I knew what was coming, but think it might be something to do with replacing important chunks of text with images. I would like to see both books side by side to see how much of this takes place.


4 stars
Frankly in Love by David Yoon & Raymond J. Lee (Narrator)

I was fascinated by this window into the life of a Korean American teen. After I finished it I spoke with my Korean daughter in law about the parents' racism. She confirmed the truth of this and told me a few horror stories about friends and acquaintances of hers here in Canada.
I shouldn't be surprised. Although the specifics about the culture are unique, I've seen the 'marry in your own culture' issue come up with many different cultural groups. Teens born in Canada are caught between two cultures. I remember it as problematic for many of my Portuguese peers I knew in high school and saw it in the different students I met in my teaching career. The racism was pretty common too. A teaching friend's son was best friends with a boy in her class. His parents wouldn't let the two socialize outside of school because she and her son were white.
For the most part I liked and cared for the characters here. There were times when I was irritated by Frank, but to be honest, real teens, as much as I love them, can irritate me at times. I liked that he seemed to mature as the story progressed. Of course he really didn't have much choice given his father's circumstance. I am looking forward to reading the sequel. I hope to get to know Q better.


5 stars
Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes

I’m gobsmacked. Nikki Grimes’ early life was full of terror and trauma. She shares her story in exquisitely fashioned verse. At times her words made me bleed for her. I raged. I feared. I wept. Huge chunks resonated profoundly with me.

In this bit, Nikki Grimes speaks for my own history:

Trauma is a memory hog.
It gobbles up all available space
in the brain,
leaves little room to mark
daily happenstances,
or even routine injuries
which are less than


4 stars
The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs by Fiona Robinson

Learning about Anna Atkins and discovering that she created the first book of photographs was fascinating. The art is just gorgeous. I love that it is based on the cyanotype impressions created by Anna. It really is the bluest of blues!

4 stars
The Dinner Party: A Symbol of our Heritage by Judy Chicago

Strictly speaking, I didn't actually read all this book. I did finish the section on how the project was completed, but I did not read all the mini biographies of the women who Judy Chicago referenced in this work. I will browse through them eventually. The photography is gorgeous. I have added seeing the piece to my bucket list.


I'm reading Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles. The audiobook I've got on the go is Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater. Will Patton's narration nearly makes me swoon. I've started This Place:150 Years Retold, a graphic novel anthology.


I will get to Look Both Ways:A Tale Told in Ten Books by Reynolds, Jason as my next audiobook. I plan to read Song Angel by Nancy Hundal, and White Rose by Kip Wilson. I've also got a pile more graphic novels.


#MustReadIn2018 25/25

#MustReadNFIn2018 12/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 26/25

25 books by Canadian Authors 98/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 416/333

#MustReadIn2019 December Update

Carrie Gelson at There's a Book for That, hosts #MustRead. I have been joining in for the past couple of years. If you have a "want to read" list on Goodreads (or somewhere else) that goes on forever, then you might be interested in joining. All you have to do is choose any number of specific books on that list, and do your best to read them all.
A few times a year Carrie reminds us that it's time to be accountable and post an update of how we are doing. You can see the list of participants on Carrie's Blog here.

Last year I had big goals for my reading life. I created a number of different reading goals from my never ending and always expanding want to read list on Goodreads. My goals were to read at least a specific number of books from different lists including some general fiction, some nonfiction, some from Canadian Indigenous authors, and finally, to read Canadian. You can see my original goals here.

I almost managed to achieve it all. Sometimes I even went over my goal. Today I'm sharing what I've finished since September and highlighted the best of what I read from this years goals.  
Clicking on the title will take you to the Goodreads page of the collection. 

Since the fall update I finished another five titles from my fiction list, reaching a total of 25. Hurrah!

This is a curated list so almost all of them were exceptional. I thought these were the best of them:

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Piecing Me Together by Renรฉe Watson
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Where You'll Find Me by Natasha Friend
Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #2) by Jessica Townsend

I only really 'finished' one from my nonfiction list since September. I read through the creation parts of The Dinner Party, but didn't read the mini biographies of the women Judy Chicago referenced. I'm considering it done anyway and a reference book I can browse.

Of the 12 books on this list, I gave 5 stars to seven of them. Those I haven't mentioned elsewhere in this post include:

Colville by Andrew Hunter

The Hunting Accident: A True Story of Crime and Poetry by David L. Carlson
Love and Laughter in the Time of Chemotherapy by Manjusha Pawagi
March: Book Two (March, #2) by John Lewis
I managed to finish up another eight books by Indigenous authors bringing the total to 26/25 books!

Of all those books I read this year, I highly recommend:

The Girl and the Wolf by Katherena Vermette
The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King
Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age by Darrel J. McLeod
The Red Power Murders Hartley GoodWeather (Thomas King)
Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation by Moniqueh Gray Smith
Strangers (The Reckoner, #1) by David Robertson
Surviving the City (The Debwe Series) by Tasha Spillett
What the Eagle Sees by Eldon Yellowhorn

According to Goodreads, I read 83 Canadian books this year, more than three times my goal of 25! I think it was more than that, but it's not important anyway. My goal was to just be mindful of how much Canadian content I read. Next year my goal will be 100! I finished these 32 since the September update.

I enjoyed most of these books. My favourite novels include:

Don't Tell The Enemy by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
Haunted Hills and Hanging Valleys: Selected Poems 1969-2004 by Peter Trower
Life Long Distance: Dialogue Poems by Robert Heidbreder
Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali
Now You're Logging! by Bus Griffiths
Wicked Nix by Lena Coakley

There were a lot of stellar picture books on that list too!

Birdsong by Julie Flett

Mary, Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey
Mustafa by Marie-Louise Gay
Otto and Pio by Marianne Dubuc
Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion by Jane Barclay
Seb and the Sun by Jami Gigot
You Are Never Alone by Elin Kelsey

#IMWAYR December 23, 2019

#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's been three whole weeks since I last posted here. How are you all? I've been busy. REALLY busy. Between working more than I want to, cleaning house, trying to get homemade Christmas projects accomplished, send off cards, finish up shopping and wrapping presents, I have hardly had any time for reading with my eyes. Tomorrow we are babysitting my grandson all day. I still haven't finished one of my husband's socks. He may get it as an unfinished kit. Hope you have your lives under better control.

Titles with a ๐Ÿ indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

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


Poetry Friday December 20th, 2019


4 stars
The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold by Maureen Fergus ๐Ÿ & Cale Atkinson ๐Ÿ(Illustrations)

Hilarious, sweet and endearing all at the same time. When Santa stops believing in Harold at the same time as Harold stops believing in Santa, Christmas gets to be a bit dreary. I laughed as Santa used the same rationale to justify his disbelief in Harold as children regularly do when they let go of their own beliefs in him. I'd like to say this book will be good for readers from K on up, but I suspect some parents will not want their children to entertain disbelief as early as 5. Still for sophisticated younger readers and older ones, this will be an entertaining read. It was a hit with the grade 3/4/5 students I read it to.

5 stars
Auntie Claus (Auntie Claus #1) by Elise Primavera

I am a huge fan of this feminist Christmas story. Sophie loves her aunt and wonders where she goes off to on her annual business trip that lasts from Halloween to Valentine's Day. She wonders about the diamond key her aunt always keeps around her neck. This year, Sophie stows away in one of her aunt's trunks to find out.
I started reading this to a group of 3/4/5 students before lunch and we didn't get it finished. Some were ready to have me finish before leaving, but given that we were decorating gingerbread houses after lunch, I thought it best that they get lots of running around time.

4 stars

Santa's Stuck by Rhonda Gowler Greene & Henry Cole (Illustrations)

This is one of my granddaughter's two favourite Christmas picture books. (The other is Carl's Christmas) Santa eats so many delicious treats on his journey that he ends up getting stuck while heading back up the chimney. The dog, the reindeer, the cat and her kittens try their best, but No-o-o-o luck -- Santa's stuck! It takes a clever mouse to come up with an ingenious plan to save Christmas.
Ada loves to shout help along with Santa, and can get carried away chanting No-o-o-o luck -- Santa's stuck!

5 stars
Carl's Christmas (Good Dog, Carl #3) by Alexandra Day

This is one of my favourite Christmas picture books, but I must admit that I am a fan of all the Carl books by Alexandra Day. It's also one of my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter's favourite. We are both happy to read and reread it. (Like all the Carl books, it's nearly wordless)

5 stars

The Cat on the Dovrefell: A Christmas Tale by George Webbe Dasent & Tomie dePaola (Illustrator)
This is absolutely my favourite Christmas tale ever! I have read it numerous times to groups of children and not only is it always a hit, it is never boring to reread. The spare text and Tomie de Paola's art make this book for me.


5 stars
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys & Maite Jรกuregui (Narrator), Richard Ferrone (Narrator), Oliver Wyman (Narrator), Neil Hellegers (Narrator), Joshua Kane (Narrator), Lisa Kaplan (Narrator)

I adored this novel. The best thing about historical novels is how much we learn about the past. I knew a bit about the Spanish civil war, but had no idea what life was like for ordinary people in the years that followed. Ruta Sepetys creates characters readers can't help but become invested in. I'm sure it can't be easy to do this with so many, but I came to care for almost all of them. I loved the ending.


4 stars

Recess in the Dark
by Kalli Dakos,  ๐Ÿ Erin Mercer ๐Ÿ (Illustrator)

This collection of poetry tells of the life of school children who live in the Northwest Territories where the sun doesn't shine for a long part of the winter. Each page of poetry is accompanied by a few sentences telling us more about the particular activity.
Erin Mercer's art is charming and sure to appeal to readers.
This tells the story of indigenous children, but neither of the creators are themselves indigenous. Kalli Dakos spent time as a teacher in the north and returned on author visits and to lead poetry workshops with the children at Alexander Mackenzie School. This book was inspired by one of those visits.

4 stars

African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways
by Avis Harley ๐Ÿ & Deborah Noyes (Photographer)

The book pairs photographs of African animals with delightful acrostic poems. The back matter contains information about each animal and where the images were taken. It also includes examples of different kinds of acrostic poems. I had no idea there were so many variations!
This is one of those books writing teachers should have in their collection.

4 stars
Fly with Poetry: An ABC of Poetry by Avis Harley๐Ÿ
This is an alphabetically listed collection of different poetic forms. It begins with an abecdarian. (a poem that uses the letters of the alphabet in their proper order for each new line). Each one is presented in a poem with a description of this format at the bottom of the page. An illustration references the content of the verse.


4 stars
Rocket to the Moon! (Big Ideas That Changed the World #1) by Don Brown

Fifty years ago I was just sixteen when men first walked on the moon. I remember our whole family crowded around our old TV watching in amazement. I had no idea what was involved to get to that point, but this book sure taught me a lot. It spans a length of time from Chinese firecrackers to the second world war, into the space and battle between Russia and America for who would reach the moon first. I appreciated the mention of Katherine G. Johnson and the 'human' computers. The back matter contains rich resources including: a timeline from 1865 to 2018, reference notes, a detailed bibliography, an index and a note from the author.
My only quibble is that the font is very small for my aging eyes.


I'm listening to Frankly in Love by David Yoon. I have nothing else on the go.


I'm hoping to get listening to Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater. As soon as I can get back to reading with my eyes, I'll start Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes and finish up The Dinner Party: A Symbol of our Heritage by Judy Chicago to complete all my reading goals.


How exciting is this? I have reached nearly all my reading goals!

#MustReadIn2018 25/25

#MustReadNFIn2018 11/12 - one in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 25/25

25 books by Canadian Authors 98/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 408/333

Poetry Friday December 20th, 2019

The Almost Solstice Edition of Poetry Friday is hosted today by Buffy Silverman. She is sharing a gorgeous picture book with images and verse you won't want to miss.

Holy Carumba! Life has gotten very very busy. It's the season isn't it? My partner and I went away for a week to rest up and gird our loins psychologically in preparation. While I was away, I read poetry, graphic novels, novels and picture books. I got my Christmas shopping under control.

I have been rereading the poetry of Avis Harley because I'm going to be interviewing her in January and wanted to reacquaint myself with her work. It has been a long long time since I used her work with students.  I read African Acrostics and Fly with Poetry: An ABC of Poetry. The first introduced me to new kinds of acrostic poetry. The latter is an alphabetically listed collection of different poetic forms. I had forgotten how brilliant Avis is.

I had been thinking of the list of seasonal words for haiku created by one of the Poetry Friday Contributors. I am sorry that I didn't write down who it was. If you read this, let me know and I will give you credit! Using those words, I began messing around with acrostic poetry.  I came up with a few drafts and ended up with one I felt was shareable.

Then a friend of mine had asked me to sub for her in her grade 3/4/5 classroom. She told me to do whatever I wanted, suggesting I have the children create art to decorate the walls.

I planned to have the students write acrostic poetry which they would then illustrate with cut out construction paper. I put a chart paper in the middle of the meeting place and as students arrived, they added words. We took a few minutes to brainstorm more words to add to the list. at different times of the day I read poems from Avis Harley and shared some of my own. We wrote a couple of acrostics as a group. Luckily I had a spare period to combine and print the lists, gather supplies, and produce a demo. We started poetry drafts before lunch. Following silent reading after lunch I showed them how I came up with my process for deciding on what to do. Then they edited their poems and worked on their pictures. Some worked in pairs and others wrote independently. A few managed to finish everything before 3:00, but mostly, we ran out of time. Their teacher gave them time this week to complete them. I still haven't seen them, but hope to sneak in tomorrow.

I began by showing them my sketch for how I wanted my finished product to look. Next I showed how I screwed up (what not to do.) Then I showed them my finished piece. I should have spent more time talking about simple images.

The sketch:

The screw up:  (tree colour didn't work with the light blue.) You would think that as a quilter, I would have figured this out right away.

The finished product. I wish I had had a white pen to write with, but it is good enough. 

My poem was actually two words, but for my example I only used the word Tree. Here is the whole thing.

Fir Tree

Forest once held you
in its embrace. Will it
remember your pristine symmetry?

Trussed out in bright bobbles, you
remind us that
even though the light is waning,
eventually, it comes back

Here's another I came up with


soft as feathers, winter
nestles in
owning the landscape
white on white quiet

Happy solstice and happy holidays to everyone. 

#IMWAYR December 9, 2019

#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.

With Christmas approaching faster than I would like, I'm either listening to an audiobook, or rewatching Father Brown on Netflix while I'm busy sewing and knitting. 

Titles with a ๐Ÿ indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

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


Poetry Friday: Life Long Distance: Dialogue Poems by Robert Heidbreder


4 stars
Where's Prancer? by Syd Hoff

I've been reading this classic with my grandkids these days. We love the sparse text and humorous illustrations.

5 stars
Maisy's Christmas Eve by Lucy Cousins

Poor Eddie, the elephant, gets lost in the snow on his way to Maisy's house. My two and a half year old granddaughter and I have been reading this for the last couple of months. She pretty much tells the story to me these days and makes me respond to her questions, Is that Eddie?


4 stars
Camp (Click #2) by Kayla Miller

When two best friends go to camp, their desires to follow their individual passions ends up creating conflict.
I was impressed by how the camp councillors monitored the pair’s emotional states and manage to intervene at the right moment. I also appreciated how the two girls managed to negotiate their way back into each other’s worlds.

4 stars
Stargazing by Jen Wang & Lark Pien (Colorist)

There are a lot of fabulous graphic novels around today that address the issue of how to be a friend. This is one of them. Moon and Christine are unlikely best friends. When Christine becomes jealous of Moon's increasing popularity, she does something she ends up regretting. I loved the diverse characters in this book. I loved the supportive adults. I'm going to confess here that all these friendship issue novels have helped me see my own adolescent more clearly and enabled me to forgive others and myself.


4 stars
American War by Omar El Akkad & Dion Graham (Narrator) ๐Ÿ

I resisted this one for a while because I anticipated it would be full of horrific scenes. It is, but then, aren't all wars full of hell? It tells the tale of a futuristic civil war in American brought about through the south's refusal to abandon fossil fuels, and the meddling of foreign agents. It is a profound look at how war strips the humanity from all of us. If you are looking for a feel good book, this isn't it. It's an important look at where we all might be headed if we don't start dealing with climate change ASAP.


4 stars
Sea Stars: Saltwater Poems by Avis Harley & Margaret Butschler (Photographer) ๐Ÿ

Gorgeous photographs of ocean life are accompanied by delightful poetry. The back matter contains information about the species in the images.

5 stars
Life Long Distance: Dialogue Poems by Robert Heidbreder ๐Ÿ

I adored this collection of poetry. The voice is so profound, it was like visiting with my mother in law and her bridge and coffee clutch gals. So many times I just laughed out loud. I had to read bits out loud to my partner, commenting, “Doesn’t this remind you of.......” These are lines of pure sweet magic. Go read my blog post if you want to read a bit from it. 


4 stars
Science Comics: Polar Bears: Survival on the Ice (Science Comics) by Jason Viola & Zack Giallongo (Illustrations)

A fictional story of two polar bear cubs is interspersed with factual information about their habitat and life cycle. What I appreciated most was how the authors made clear how climate change affects these animals.


I've restarted Dig by A. S. King, I'm listening to The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys. I'm also in the middle of African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways by Avis Harley and Rocket to the Moon! by Don Brown,

I'm hoping to get to Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience and Spin by Colleen Nelson.


How exciting is this? I have reached nearly all my reading goals!

#MustReadIn2018 25/25 - one in progress

#MustReadNFIn2018 11/12 - one in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 25/25

25 books by Canadian Authors 94/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 399/333