#IMWAYR January 27, 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 was all about graphic novels last week as I managed to finish reading the Cybil's finalists in the graphic novel category. Whew! Deciding on a winner is going to be challenging because they are all fabulous in different ways!

I managed to find a bit of time to do some knitting, but it was pretty much a read and work week. I made sure to carve out time so I could go singing. My choir doesn't perform. We just get together and sing for the joy of making music together. 

Clicking on the titles of the books will take you to Goodreads where you can add it to your list. 



Much thanks to TL extraordinaire, Miranda Hounsell for introducing me to the first two books here. 
5 stars
This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a young refugee. It's perfect for primary students because it reveals the main ideas of what she has been through without details that would make it too disturbing. It's a book for fostering empathy for refugee students in classrooms.

4 stars
Oh this book is just delightful! One day while Z, a little robot, is out adventuring it finds a note in a bottle. The writing is blurred but it is signed, Love, Beatrice. Love does not compute to Z or the robots who look after him. The next day Z sets off to find the meaning of love. If you are looking for a feel good book that shows all the ways people and robots show their love, look no further.

5 stars
This book just gobsmacked me. Poor cranky Little Brown. To be honest, the ending shocked me. I don't know why I expected anything else from the author of The Farmer and the Clown. The first time I read it, I was alone. I had to go back for another read to make sure I hadn't missed anything.
Then I read it to a group of grade 1's and 2's.
They responded with, "Wait! Huh? That's not the ending? How could that be?"
The skits that followed presented brilliantly simple solutions for what to do tomorrow.
Got a big problem? Ask a kid what to do.

4 stars
This delightful book has brightly coloured pictures that compare growing friends to growing flowers. There is minimal text on the page which makes it ideal for younger readers. The primary aged group I was with this week were easily able to make the connections between the two ideas. Sara Gillingham is a Canadian author. 🍁

4 stars
Through the perspective of a young girl, Okpik, we become acquainted with a northern community learning about the ways of the white people. Even though the pages are text heavy, young readers will connect with Okpik who has a puppy she is trying to come up with a name for.
I started reading this to a group of grade 1's and 2's without having read it first. Don't do that. It uses Inuit vocabulary that you will want to rehearse. I showed the students the glossary of words at the end of the book and we tried to sound them out and learn them together, but it definitely interrupted the flow of the story.
Susan Aglukark is an Inuk Canadian. (She is also an amazing musician.) Danny Christopher and Amanda Sandland are also Canadian. 🍁


4 stars
There is some drop dead gorgeous art in this graphic novel. The landscape and nature scenes are truly spectacular. I like the characters except that where the backgrounds are realistic, the people have a cartoon look to them that makes them look our of place in that context. Melanie Gillman is trying to get across a lot in this graphic novel. Charlie, a young black girl is attending an otherwise all white summer camp. She experiences all kinds of microagressions from the leadership and other campers. The feminism espoused by the group leadership is definitely privileged. It all felt a bit too preachy to me, but I could have lived with it because the friendship that grows between Charlie and Sydney, a transgendered girl, is delightful. However, I really hated that ending, which wasn't really an ending at all. The story just stopped without any resolution of any kind.

5 stars
I realio trulio love this book so much!
Lupe's quinceañera is special in more ways than she anticipated. Not only is it her coming of age into womanhood, it's the day her superpowers manifest. Luckily, her abuela, who's been through it all herself, is there to mentor and guide her. It's a wild and wonderful year for Lupe as she saves her community over and over and experiences fan adoration. It's also hard work and stressful! It isn't easy living two separate lives. When her grades start slipping she has to work with a tutor. Still, everything is fine until it is discovered that there is another teen at her high school with superpowers, and he's full of evil.
While there is some romance in this book, it's nothing that would keep me from handing it off to a ten year old to read. In fact, Lupe is the ideal role model. She's strong, independent, compassionate and kind. Sebastian Kadlecik wanted to create a comic book with a superhero his Latino nieces would want to emulate, and who would be a mirror for them to see themselves and their families in. Not only have the creators accomplished it, they have created a superhero for all girls (and even boys) to look up to.
Even if the ending almost made me cry, this book still makes me happy!
I appreciated the diverse cast of characters at the school Lupe attends. I love Lupe's Latino family, but most especially her abuela! Their relationship is a highlight of the book for me. I especially love that this book makes pink a power colour!
I had problems with some text being too small to read but because I was reading it on my iPad, I could enlarge it. I'm not sure if that is a problem with me or the book though, since I have trouble with text in graphic novels on a regular basis. 
Check out this video interview with the creators. 

4 stars
I loved meeting Mr Wolf's students in their beds the night before school starts. Not only do we get to know them all a bit, we see that each of them is a unique individual. What makes the book is this collection of diverse animals coming together in this classroom. I know many students will love the fart/icecream joking around. When a student goes missing though, usually there is a whole lot more hullabaloo than in this story. However, students will probably find it hilarious that Penny fell asleep in a box in the library.

4 stars
In this semi-autobiographical novel Vera tells the story of life at a summer camp in America that celebrates and fosters Russian culture. It isn't easy. She struggled with fitting in at her school and then again while she was at camp. There are hilarious scenes where the boys and girls try to steal each other's flags. The outhouse also provides comic moments. In spite of the hilarity, there are lonely, painful and embarrassing components as well. I loved the scenes where Vera found a friend and accepts who she is. The artwork is charming!
In the afterward Vera Brosgol explains that the story is a compilation of friends and family members experiences of camp. To this she added a dose of creativity to make the narrative more exciting.
I enjoyed this as much, if not more, this second time.

4 stars
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. This is my second time reading this. It is worth the reread.
Samya Kullab is a Canadian Journalist. 🍁


5 + stars
What a story!
I connected deeply to this book. Jarett's mother reminded me of my sister, who had addiction and mental health issues but nonetheless, loved her children with everything she had. The other character who jumped out at me was the grandmother. Although she often comes across as a cantankerous old crone, she too has moments of tenderness. Ultimately the thing about all the characters in this book is that I can't help but feel like I know all them. How can our hearts not ache for the little boy who didn't understand what was happening with his mother? My heart ached for his mother too. The research tells us that there is a correlation between early childhood trauma and drug addiction. I am deeply moved by how this book is full of love for all of the characters, including himself. 
The art is brilliant. I won't say it's beautiful, although there are some parts that are. What it is, is powerful and profound. It feels like a journey into memory.
I appreciated the note in the back matter where Krosoczka talks about what happened after this book.

5 stars
I had to work hard to find a copy of this book, but it was worth all the effort!
If you, or someone you know is into horses, get this book. It's based on the true story of the author's cousin, Gail Ruffu, who lost everything to save the life of a horse she was part owner of. Gail Ruffu is an inspirational role model. What you learn about horse racing in America is appalling. "In American horse racing, twenty-four racehorses (on average) die every week on racetracks." This doesn't include the thousands who are sent to slaughterhouses to be killed because of injuries caused by reckless trainers and breeders.
At first I had mixed feelings about the black and white art, but within a few pages, I was lost in the story.

4 stars
This book troubles me, but as I go through my criteria for a quality graphic novel, I find myself giving it top marks for almost all aspects. Everything related to the art is stunning. The use of Anne's own words fills it with authenticity. The more I wonder what it is about this book that doesn't work for me, the more I wonder if it's me. It has been a long time since I read the original novel, but the story and ending is well known. Perhaps I'm just anxious because the creators have done their job so well that I am deeply invested in this young girl, and know what is in store for her. That might be it. I also think that partly what troubles me has to do with the large junks of written text interspersed in the graphic novel. When a GN works, my brain combines the image and text so they seamlessly roll out the story. These larger chunks interupt this flow. All that aside, I do think this is an invaluable addition to school libraries as It will enable more readers to become acquainted with Anne's story, one that seems more and more relevant given the existing political climate.

4 stars
This graphic novel continues the story of Echo, a young Métis girl living in a foster home. She travels back and forth in time to the time of Louis Riel and the Metis Red river Rebellion. It brings a dark part of Canadian history to life. The reality is that the Canadian government has never dealt fairly with indigenous peoples and reading this novel makes it all very clear. This is created by a Canadian Indigenous team. 🍁

5 stars
Louise Wolfe, (Lou) a suburban Muscogee (Creek) girl, is in her last year of high school. She's a journalist on the school newspaper and getting into a serious romantic relationship. A dark underbelly of the school and community is revealed when diverse students get starring roles in the school production of The Wizard of Oz. Lou's brother, Hughie, gets the part of the Tin Man. A group calling themselves Parents Against Revisionist Theater (PART) get their knickers in a knot and cause all kinds of grief. Lou's family along with the other actors' families receive nasty notes and other people in their community are threatened with losing their livelihoods if their children continue writing for the paper. Their journalism teacher is suspended. 
Until I read this book I had no idea that Frank Baum was racist, never mind vociferously so. I appreciated the dilemma It put Hughie in when he discovered this. 
There is so much to love about this book. I loved the positive extended family relationships. I loved that Lou became more reflective as she realizes her mistakes and tries to fix them. Hearts Unbroken is the kind of solid, coming of age YA novel I adore. 


I'm still listening to Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. I need to finish it soon since my book club meeting is next week. I am rereading On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden since I've finished up the rest of the Cybil finalists and want to make sure my initial response stands up compared to all the rest of them. I have just begun reading First and Then by Emma Mills. 


I will be trying to deal with all the books I've put aside while I finishing the graphic novels. 


#MustReadIn2018 3/25

#MustReadNFIn2018 2/12 1 in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 2/25

25 books by Canadian Authors 10/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 38/333

Red River Resistance by Katherena Vermette, Scott B Henderson (Illustrations) & Donovan Yaciuk (Illustrations)

This graphic novel continues the story of Echo, a young Métis girl living in a foster home. In this sequel, Echo has made some connections to other students at school and gotten involved in the indigenous leadership program. While still missing her mother, she is in a positive, supportive, foster family. 

I appreciate how Canadian history is taught through Echo’s eyes. She travels back in time to 1869 and 1870 in the Red River when the Métis were trying to keep their land. The Canadian government wanted it for white settlers. To avoid this, the Métis, under the leadership of Louis Riel, set up their own government in hopes of negotiating with Canada. In spite of their best efforts, they lost. The reality is that the Canadian government has never dealt fairly with indigenous peoples and reading this novel makes it all very clear. 

The story of Métis resistance is one of many dark chapters in our history. Even though I know this story, it seems more profound in a graphic novel format. Perhaps it’s because I am invested in Echo and these are her ancestors. 

The back matter includes a timeline full of important dates. A map shows where the Red River settlement is. There is also a list of rights that was a foundational document for the Métis government.

The realistic art has a gritty feel to it. There is one page that filled me with dread. It’s a joyful picture of Echo with Benjamin, her friend from the past, celebrating what they think will be a successful negotiation between the Métis and the government of Canada.

#IMWAYR January 21, 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 managed to finish a baby quilt this week. It is the second in my foray into modern quilting. I decided to face this one instead of putting on a binding that would show. I like how it turned out, although I had envisioned larger overlapping circles when I sent it off to be quilted.

Now I'm working on a completely different project of an applique flower garden that my sister and I started last summer. We created flowers and buds together, and now my job is to create the vines, stalks, and leaves, and the pieced border.  She will hand sew all of it onto the background before it goes to be quilted.

I'm determined to limit my working schedule to three days a week. Not only does work cut seriously into my reading and playing with grandchildren time,  I get too exhausted working more than that!


OMG, this book is absolutely stunning. I recently read Peter Sis' adaptation of this poem and didn't think anything else could possibly compare. I was wrong. Demi's birds are splendidly elegant. The golden borders on each page are lavishly spectacular. The prose is much more accessible and straight forward than Peter Sis' version, although both are beautiful to read. The book trailer below will give you a hint of what's inside.

This is one of those books that lifts you up and makes you happy to be alive. It's as beautiful on the inside as the cover shows. That pink, designed by Elsa Schiaparelli and a chemist, made me giddy with delight. I'm not a particular follower of fashion but I was delighted to learn about this amazing woman who followed her passion and fulfilled her dreams. Both the author and illustrator of this are Canadian!🍁


At the onset of winter, a Northern Anishinaabe village loses cell service, TV, internet and electricity. It’s not an uncommon occurrence so they figure it will just be a while and everything will be back to normal. But when a couple of their 19 year old sons make their way home from college on a snowmobile, they realize it’s a more global shutdown. It seems that the apocalypse has begun.
Evan, the main character, is an honorable man who works for the band, keeping the road open and doing what else needs to be done. He and his partner have two young children they are trying to raise in the traditional way. Throughout the book Evan and the other band leaders try to support the community as best they can.
When a large, weird, white man, Justin Scott, arrives in the village having following the teens' tracks in the snow, the community leaders let him in. Their concerns about him appear to be well founded when another group of white refugees arrives and Scott kills one of them. As the death rate keeps rising, Evan comes to understands more fully the evil Justin Scott brings with him. Their confrontation is inevitable. Although it is never mentioned in the book, I couldn't help but see Justin Scott as a Windigo.
Waubgeshig Rice is an indigenous Canadian. 🍁


I wanted to like this more. The art is gorgeous. It's dynamic and full of colour. The book is essentially a compilation of short stories that are like chapters in a book about a group of children in a neighbourhood. It's a celebration of imagination as they transform cardboard into costumes and unique creations that become part of a unique imaginary world. At the same time, it deals with some important emotional/social realities. It includes a multicultural diverse collection of children getting to know each other better and becoming more aware of their own identities. Some of them struggle more than others, but ultimately, they are all included.

This is just plain adorable. It's perfect for fans of Binky and other graphic novels by Ashley Spires who are ready to move on to slightly more difficult texts. It's loaded with humor, but that evil baby is hilariously perfect. Both the author and illustrator of this are Canadian! 🍁

This is quite beautiful. Right off the bat I was impressed with how Mariah Marsden and Brenna Thummler have captured the essence of Anne Shirley. Her dramatic flair is well represented by the art and text. There is one image in particular, of Anne jumping into a pile of leaves that Gilbert has just raked, that made my heart sing. I love that they have represented Marilla's stoicism as well as her tenderness for Anne. The depiction of Green Gables with its expanses of trees, gardens and different landscapes across time and seasons is almost enough to make me want to uproot my family and move to PEI.
My only quibble with the art is that in places, Anne's green eyes, shown as green circles, creeped me out a bit. So did her nose which appears to be pasted on. At times these two things distracted me and interfered with the continuity of the story.
Like another reviewer on goodreads, I also wonder why L.M. Montgomery isn't given any authorial credit. She was also Canadian. 🍁

5+ stars
The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag

I love all that this book takes on. It's the story of a Aster, boy who wants to learn the art of magic: something that is traditionally only girls' work. Boys are supposed to be able to shape shift, but so far, Aster can't. The authentic multicultural characters are different colours and ethnicities. Charlie, the one regular human girl, has two dads. I love the connection between her and Aster. While there is a demon of sorts, it turns out that the people themselves, in their rigidness, are responsible for it's creation. The novel has beautiful artwork that is easy to follow. I appreciate the use of white neutral space depicting daytime and black for night. As I neared the end I was so engaged that I was zipping through the pages.


This nonfiction graphic text brought tears to my eyes numerous times. The book was commissioned by MSF (Doctors Without Borders) to portray experiences of Syrian refugees and raise awareness of their situations. It's a hard read emotionally, but worth it. Olivier Kugler explains that all his requests to interview women at the Domiz Refugee camp were turned down. He was able to speak to some women in camps in Europe. The result is that these are primarily narratives of men, but there are a few stories of women.
The book tells many different individual and family stories. All of these people fled Syria fearing for their lives. Their journeys are harrowing and heartbreaking.
There is a kind of chaos to how the book is formatted with what at first glimpse seems to be images and text haphazardly strew across the page. Some of the text is organized with numbers and arrows. On other pages I started at the top left hand corner and worked my through it. It all ended up making too much sense to me. The artwork is crowded and images at times feel fluid and without proper outlines. This format creates a kind of instability that leaves the reader feeling out of control and not sure what is going to happen next. It's brilliant. I hope it's as close as I ever get to being a refugee.


I'm listening to Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. I'm reading Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith. I've started Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.


I will be reading many graphic novels as I must have to have all the Cybil nominations read soon!


#MustReadIn2018 2/25

#MustReadNFIn2018 2/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 1/25

25 books by Canadian Authors 8/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 23/333