#IMWAYR February 24, 2020

Hello out there. It's #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.





Last week, February 19th, was the inaugural celebration of I Read Canadian Day. At the library I was in it became I Read Canadian Week. I pulled bunches of titles by Canadian authors - novels and picture books - and set them out on the library tables. I gave students time to find and get acquainted with one book. Then we did an inside/outside circle activity. Partners had 30 seconds each to sell their books to one another before moving along. All the children from grades one to six enjoyed the activity and best of all, almost everyone checked out a Canadian book!

I'm continuing to work my way through the Canada Reads short list before the debate this year. I've also started reading my way through the boxes of Chocolate Lily Readers Choice award books. I've started with the picture books. Some of these are rereads for me, but worth shining a light on one more time. So far they are all so good, I have no idea how we are going to pick the finalists! 

Titles with a 🍁 indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

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

PICTURE BOOKS


The Ranger by Nancy Vo 🍁

I was intrigued by the cover of this book. Then I fell in love with the first couple of pages. The first shows only a genderless silhouette and the words, "Once there was a ranger. The next page shows an image of a girl and the words, "Her name was Annie." Annie finds a fox who is in a bad way, rescues it, and in turn the two become friends. What we readers eventually come to understand is that friendship is not about keeping score, it's about supporting each other when we need help without any expectation of payment.
Sparse text accompanies Nancy Vo's glorious mixed media artwork.
This is my second time with this book. Honestly, it just gets better. This time round, because of the interspecies care, I'm aware of how Vo's interpretation of 'western' highlights a rich environmental theme.


Princess Puffybottom . . . and Darryl by Susin Nielsen & Olivia Chin Mueller (Illustrator) 🍁

Poor Princess Puffybottom is one pampered cat (with two mommies) until her subjects bring Darryl, a rambunctious puppy, home. No matter what she does, Princess can not get them to get rid of him. Luckily, Darryl adores Princess Puffybottom and he manages to prove his worth to her. They settle into an amicable relationship hoping there will be no more surprises. One is coming, but you will have to read the book to find out what it is.
Olivia Chin Mueller's art is charming. I love the expressions she shows in the animal faces. I love that the art reflects the perspective of the cat in showing mostly the bottom halves of people. The liner notes on the cover jacket by both the author and illustrator are as hilarious as the book.


The Magic Boat by Kit Pearson, Katherine Farris, & Gabrielle Grimard (Illustrations) 🍁

This a book that celebrates collective imagination. A young girl makes a new friend who takes her on adventures in ‘a magic boat.’ When her friend leaves, the boat remains an abandoned old weathered rowboat until she makes a new friend. Gabrielle Grimard’s art is absolutely gorgeous. Her scenery under the sea is especially lovely. My only complaint is that many of the pages have too much text in them.



Great Job, Mom! & Great Job, Dad! by Holman Wang 🍁

I like these two companion books even more than the Cosy Classic board book series created by Holeman and his brother Jack! Both of these books honour all the things parents do for their children and will be perfect for reading and gifting for Mothers and Fathers Days! I like that the mother's paid work is not stereotypical. I especially appreciate the information at the end of the book showing us how Holman Wang gets his felted creations into such realistic settings.


Hello, Crow by Candace Savage & Chelsea O'Byrne (Illustrator) 🍁

Franny sees the world differently from her father. He doesn’t appreciate that his observant daughter notices things he doesn’t. When she befriends a crow, he has to see it for himself before he believes it.
Here in Vancouver, we are all mourning Canuck the Crow, who befriended Shawn Bergman. Shawn shared Canucks exploits on a Facebook page. When Canuck disappeared last summer, we all grieved. This story was at the forefront of my consciousness as I read this, so I really loved the relationship between the Franny and her crow. It’s all believable because it happens. Some people are distressed by the father’s dismissal of Fanny, but that doesn’t really disturb me. It seems like he’s a single parent, and that’s a really tough job.
As much as I admire the illustrations, there isn’t quite that marriage between text and art that makes both of them become sublime.


The House at the End of the Road by Kari Rust 🍁

Old people are pretty cool characters in Kari Rust's The House at the End of the Road. Some of us already know this, but you can't have too many reminders of how important relationships between the oldest and the youngest of us are. This book is a hybrid - a cross between a graphic novel and a picture book.
Just finished rereading this and enjoyed it as much the second time round. What I'm not so sure of is how well it will be received by readers. I'm going to have to test it out.


Fairy Science by Ashley Spires 🍁

Esther is an unusual fairy. She doesn't believe in magic. Esther believes in science. She prefers "facts, data, and hard evidence to wishing on stars." She has a scientific explanation for all the enchantments the other fairies experience. I love the page where Esther shows other fairies the periodic table explaining that it is a "list of all the elements that make up the universe!" The other fairies respond, "Not all of them. Where are dreams and wishes and sunshine?"
When a tree in the woods is dying, the fairies use their magic to try and help it. Meanwhile, Esther does some research, forms an hypothesis, does some experiment and comes to a conclusion. At the same time as she implements her solution, an older fairy performs some magic. When the tree recovers, it's questionable who made the difference. Still, through it all, Esther manages to inspire other fairies to be interested in science.
It's Ashly Spires so of course the artwork is stellar. Esther is just the cutest little purple haired imp!
If ever there was a book to include in a STEM collection, this is it. The back matter contains an illustrated guide to her sun-beam experiment.


The Not-So Great Outdoors by Madeline Kloepper 🍁

I loved the humour in this one. It is hilarious when the text deliberately contradicts the glorious scenery. The page where the girl complains that something smells like wet dog, is especially delightful. This simple story of a young girl not wanting to go camping with her family is charming, but’s it’s the art that’s truly stunning. Just wow!


Oh, What a Busy Day by Gyo Fujikawa

I picked this up after reading It Began with a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear.
I still have to spend some time perusing this with my grandkids, but I adore all the illustrations and little bits of verse and rhyme.


Dasher by Matt Tavares

Beautiful illustrations are the jewel in this delightful story of how the reindeer came to pull Santa's sleigh. There is too much text on the page to hold the interest of my toddlers, but I am sure that primary aged students will be enthralled by it.

NOVELS


Radicalized by Cory Doctorow 🍁

This book is brilliant. Each novella is profound. I'm just having difficulty connecting it to why Canadians should read it because, other than a few mentions of events in Canada, it's primarily focused on the American experience. How is it supposed to be the one book that brings Canada into focus?
Some of these stories, especially Unauthorized Bread and Masque of the Red Death, can be a warning about what we want to avoid here in the future, but the other two, Radicalized and Model Minority really didn't work for me with regards to that goal. I don't want to think that what brings us into focus is based on what happens in America. Although, I conceed that perhaps Radicalized makes us focus on how thankful we should be that we have the medical system we have, even it it is flawed.
This is a book all Americans should read!
I look forward to seeing how Akil Augustine defends it on Canada Reads.

CURRENTLY

I'm listening to The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman. I'm almost finished We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib. It is the last of the Canada Reads books and a digital fast read so I had to interrupt all my other reading for it! Both of those books are also on my MustReadIn2020 list! I'm also reading Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner.

UP NEXT

I'm not sure what my next audiobook will be. I will continue reading from the boxes of books and try to get back to The Afterwards by A. F. Harrold.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2020: 3/25 one in progress

#MustReadNFIn2020: 2/12 one in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 8/25

100 books by Canadian Authors: 27/100

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 77/333

Poetry Friday February 21, 2020: Introducing Avis Harley

Hello everyone, and welcome to Poetry Friday. I'm excited to be hosting today for my second time! Leave your links below and enjoy a special day celebrating poetry.

This is my second time highlighting and bragging about Vancouver children's poets. We have a wealth of talent here north of the 49th parallel! Today I'm introducing you to Avis Harley. She has been an important influence in the teaching of poetry to children here in Vancouver, across Canada, in the United States, and around the world.




I met Avis (long A sound here) Harley at her home near the edge of where the forest meets the city. Her home is as elegant as she is herself. Avis was warm and welcoming on a very cold and rainy Vancouver morning. Because I was nervous, I wore my comfortable green plaid jumper. Avis was also attired in green. It's both of our favourite colours! While Avis prepared coffee for me, I admired the photograph of the baby on her kitchen counter and learned that she is a great-grandmother! 


She had asked for a list of questions ahead of time so I sent them off. Shortly thereafter I received a written response - it seemed like my blog was already written for me! (Much of it in poetry!) However, as I read it over, I came up with even more questions for her. So while munching on fresh fruit, her favourite food, we sat snug and warm inside, and talked about life and poetry.


I asked her what she was passionate about, (aside from poetry). I hope by the end of reading this, you might be able to figure out what it is.


Early Years and Poetic Influences


 Avis was born in Vancouver, BC in 1941. She and her three siblings were raised in West Vancouver in a house overlooking acres of forest in the foreground (there was no Lions Gate Bridge, or Park Royal, or houses around them when her parents built their home). They had a splendid view of the harbour and Vancouver beyond that.


As a child she listened to her animated grandmother recite nursery rhymes and poetry. Her mother read the A.A. Milne series and Robert Louis Stevenson to them.


"I still have those time-worn copies on my book shelf. Perhaps the rhythm and rhyme patterns of these poets were early influences.


I always enjoyed playing with words, and kept diaries (with a lock and key!) and wrote poems at a young age. During my final year in high school, I had a wonderful English Literature teacher who introduced me to Tennyson, A.E. Housman, Robert Frost, and so many others. I also took a Creative Writing course in Grade 12, and was exposed to many different kinds of poetic forms, and discovered how poets could turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. I wrote and experimented with a lot of poetry in that class, and realized how important it was to me."


Reading has been a part of my daily life. Lucy Maud Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott were favourites in my early days. 


Books she recently enjoyed include The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Her favourite poetry collection is COMMITTED TO MEMORY—100 Best Poems to Memorize (edited by John Hollander) It’s full of poems I love, and as I age, I try and challenge my brain to memorize some of them.


These days Avis enjoys the work of Billy Collins, A.E. Housman, Anne Michaels, Robert Frost, (and others).
A favourite poem is one she learned years ago: "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. You can read the poem here.

Until our meeting I did not know of 
Anne Michaels, a Canadian poet. Avis introduced me to "Memorium", a poem I have come to adore. 

Memoriam 

In lawn chairs under stars.  On the dock
At midnight, anchored by winter clothes,
We lean back to read the sky.  Your face white
In the womb light, the lake’s electric skin.

I encourage you to read the rest here

After completing her B.Ed Avis taught in schools in Canada and then travelled around the world with a few friends. She ended up teaching in England where she was introduced to the British Primary System.  She then returned to teach in Canada where she implemented much of what she had learned there.

"My love of children’s poetry grew out of my love of working with children.

I have always wanted to be a teacher, and joined the Future Teachers Club when I was in Grade 9 in high school. I taught Grade 1 to Grade 5, and have been listening to the language of children ever since."

Eventually she returned to University to complete her MA in Poetry in Children's Literature. At that time no poetry courses were offered. After graduating she was asked to put together a program for teachers. For twelve years she taught a poetry course at UBC in the Language and Literacy Department, "exploring with teachers and librarians ways to bring children and poetry together." Throughout her career Avis has been a writer-in-residence, mentor, workshop leader, and has given poetry presentations in Canada, U.S., Hong Kong, and Japan.


On Writing 

As a writer, the best advice she received is to keep trying. Resilience is key. Her advice to new poets is, 
Read lots and lots of poetry. Find your own voice and write what you want to write about.

Avis  has no specific writing routine except when she is on a roll. For her the easiest thing about writing is choosing a topic. The hardest is to get that poem so it feels complete. 
Over time she has become experimental and uses a myriad of different forms. She also edits much more.

Sometimes I stare at a blank white page stuck in the tabula rasa stage.

Before me lies an intriguing task where my chosen subject seems to ask:

What to say? Where to begin?

How to get out what is within?
Should it be free verse? Limerick? Haiku?
A couplet? Acrostic? A Clerihew?

A myriad of forms to find and explore that inner voice not heard before!

My poems go through many revisions. Over and over I edit decisions.
Rework! Rewrite! Revise! Refine! Polishing a poem, line by line.

Always, when writing, I read aloud. Does the rhythm flow? Do syllables crowd?

Does the subject dictate how form should be? Do lines resonate inside of me?
And when a poem won’t cooperate I file it away for a later date.

Like the metamorphosis of a butterfly, poems evolve and modify:


EDITING THE CHRYSALIS


At last,” cried Butterfly,


 Poised

 Over its
 Empty chrysalis,
My final draft!”

Publishing and Published Works


After sending her work off to numerous Canadian publishers and getting rejection after rejection, she was recommended to send her work off to an American publisher in the education market. The rest as they say, is history. Avis has had her work published in numerous collections including those curated by J. Patrick Lewis and Lee Bennet Hopkins.


Her meticulous poetry is tailored for work in classrooms. All writing teachers should have her work in their collection. It is brilliant mentor text. If you are looking for poetry with nonfiction content, Avis presents brilliant examples in multiple poetic formats. All of her work contains additional information in the back matter about either the form itself, or the content of the poem. A few of her poems, were even put to music by Scholastic. Alas I can find no record of them online.




She is most proud of Fly with Poetry: An ABC of Poetry, (2000) "because there is something special about your first published book. 

This self illustrated, alphabetically listed collection of different poetic forms begins with an abecedarian poem. Each poem is presented with a description of the format at the bottom of the page. An illustration references the content of the verse. This collection contains the doublet, turned into a poetic form by Avis, where a word is changed, one letter at a time, into another word.




She also created the "Intravista” which was introduced on Sylvia Vardell's blog, Poetry for Children. 
Avis defines an Intravista as "words within words, arranged vertically, to make a poem within a poem. (The word Intravista has a word tucked inside it!)


How fine a thing am I to be all wing and eye!

A companion book, Leap Into Poetry: More ABCs of Poetry (2001) continues with another twenty six poetic forms, each of them highlighting a different tiny creature.


In Sea Stars: Saltwater Poems, Margaret Butschler's gorgeous photographs of ocean life are accompanied by Avis' delightful poetry. The back matter contains additional information about the species in the images.


I was never an acrostics fan until I read African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways by Avis Harley and photographer, Deborah Noyes. The book pairs photographs of African animals with delightful acrostic poems. This is not acrostic poetry with one almost unrelated word for each letter! In these examples of different kinds of acrostic poems you will forget you are reading acrostic poetry. I had no idea there were so many variations!  You can read how I used it with a group of students hereI've highlighted the letters to read vertically so you can see that there is a poem inside this poem. 

Eyes read what ears hear.

Another self illustrated book, The Monarch's Progress: Poems with Wings, contains different forms of poetry that inform readers about these magnificent creatures.


Harley's work has received many awards and accolades. She is most pleased with African Acrostics being named one of the best books of the year by the New York Public Library. It is in its 8th printing!


These days Avis has a work in progress about having fun with collective nouns. She showed me a gorgeous self illustrated book about bees that needs to find a publisher.


Avis is a role model for how to age with grace and dignity. When not writing, she keeps herself very busy. For the past 40 years, I have been very involved in two lively book groups, reading a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction and thoroughly enjoying the animated discussions at meetings. Avis is also involved with the Women's Probus Club of Vancouver, and volunteered with the after school music program at St. James Music Academy. Once an avid hiker, she's now part of a walking group that meets daily from 8:15 to 9:15. Birds fascinate her and she keeps track of all the different species who visit her spacious back yard. I suspect she makes the most of birding when she visits Salt Spring Island, her favourite vacation spot. Every Christmas Eve, Avis and her family sit down together to watch her favourite movie, Alastair Sim in Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.”

She regularly attends opera and live theatre. Her favourite music is Chopin’s piano compositions and Saturday Met Broadcasts. "Music has been a major influence in my life. I have fun with the ukulele, and I take piano lessons, took voice lessons in my youth, and sang for many years in the Vancouver Opera Chorus. The combination of words and music and how everything comes together to create such harmony has always thrilled me." 
(Please note that I put those words in bold to help you figure out what she is passionate about. She still practices her piano every day.)

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?


From the start, every child would receive quality education. This would mean that education in the arts and music would be as important as learning about math, literature, history, and science.


if you haven't figured out what Avis Harley is passionate about, aside from poetry that is, here is your last clue in a poem I scrabbled together using her work as mentor text. 


Mastery of the keyboard
Underpins
Success at the piano, but
Integrated voices are a holy
Commune wherein the sacred rings

I leave you with Avis' favourite quote about poetry:

"Poetry begins in delight and ends in wisdom" Robert Frost

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#IMWAYR February 17, 2020

Here we are. It's #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.



My partner and I are enjoying a respite from city life here in our home in Oliver BC. I love to look out our living room picture window.  A skiff of snow on the mountains emphasizes where earth meets sky. Stark branches of deciduous trees are etched in front of dark green coniferous. Hardy birds take to air or perch on tree branches and along the power lines. Then there are the quail scurrying around the ground searching for things to eat. In the middle of February, we are in a holding pattern, aware that spring is on its way, yet knowing that winter still has a grip on the land.

Titles with a 🍁 indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

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

PICTURE BOOKS


5 stars
A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love by Michelle Edwards & G. Brian Karas (Illustrator)

This one hits the sweet spot for me for so many reasons. It's got that relationship between generations. It's about acts of kindness and love. But mostly, it's because I am a knitter who has tried to teach youngsters and older folks how to knit. The truth in it makes me laugh. Brian Karas' art is lovely. I am impressed by the note on the jacket cover saying that he learned to knit to prepare for illustrating the book.


4 stars
16 Words: William Carlos Williams and "The Red Wheelbarrow" by Lisa Jean Rogers & Chuck Groenink (Illustrator)

This is the author's interpretation of what might have motivated Williams to write his famous poem. Along the way we readers learn a lot about the poet's life as a doctor and author. It's beautifully written and illustrated. I especially appreciate that they highlight Williams' ability to notice and write about ordinary things and ordinary people. His gift, through choosing words so carefully, is to make them seem extraordinary. I love the way the art brings it all together.


5 stars
Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler

Based on a true story, this tells the tale of a mother and her eight children who made a home out of a shack deep in the woods. They lived there for five years. Told from the perspective of Marvel, the author's grandmother, it follows the family across one year. At first dismayed by the cabin's appearance, they were able to transform it into a place of beauty and love. I loved the illustrations and story so much that I've read it about three times now. I can't help but connect to the time my family lived up north in a slightly larger, if equally inhospitable cabin.
I loved that they found a root cellar with a pump for water. Those jars with rings irritated me because I thought everyone used glass tops with rubber rings. I went and researched the history of canning jars to discover that metal rings and tops would have been available in the 1930's.

NOVELS


5 stars
Son of a Trickster (Trickster #1) by Eden Robinson Indigenous 🍁

I adored this and was pretty much gobsmacked by it. It's one of the most brilliant coming of age novels I've read in ages. It's the first in series of books about Jared, a young man growing up in a culture almost decimated by the actions of colonialism.
It reminded me of Lee Maracle's books, Ravensong and Celia's Song. All of these books integrate indigenous ways of knowing the world into their novels.


4 stars
The Size of the Truth (Sam Abernathy #1)by Andrew Smith & RamΓ³n de Ocampo (Narrator)
I took a bit of a break from reading Andrew Smith because the book I read after Grasshopper Jungle, didn't live up to my very high expectations for his work. I'm glad to have gotten to this one. It's got that weirdness that I love as well as showcasing the sweetest boys.


5 stars
Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline & Michelle St John (Narrator)  Indigenous 🍁

This is one hell of a read! The writing is absolutely exquisite. Michelle St John’s narration is spot on. I'm so impressed by how Dimaline's work functions on so many levels. It's a stand alone brilliant love story showing what we will do for people we care about. I'm not a huge can of creepy, but was so riveted I couldn't stop listening even when I was terrified of what would happen next. At the same time, it ends up being a profound examination of indigenous/settler relationships historically and today.
At first I thought this book was very different from The Marrow Thieves, Dimaline's previous novel, but as I got into it I began to make connections. Both books integrate indigenous history into modern or futuristic settings. In Marrow thieves we see a repetition of the residential school system. This novel harkens back to the role of missionaries in the first stages of colonial takeover. It's terrifying that here it connects to getting acquiescence for a pipeline. I also appreciated the Red Riding Hood theme. I connected it to the murdered and missing indigenous women and the rogarus inside the men who are responsible, but also to the harm we do to ourselves when we hold hatred inside.

CURRENTLY

I'm listening to The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman.  I'm trying to finish up all the Canada Reads books before March 19th when the debate begins. I've finished three  already and have started reading Radicalized by Cory Doctorow. I'm also reading The Afterwards by A. F. Harrold.

UP NEXT

I'm not sure what will be my next audiobook. I plan on delving into the boxes of books I have to read as a juror for the Chocolate Lily awards.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2020: 3/25

#MustReadNFIn2020: 2/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 10/25 one in progress

100 books by Canadian Authors: 14/100

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 65/333

Poetry Friday February 14th, 2920

Today's Valentine's edition of Poetry Friday is hosted  by Linda Bai at Teacher Dance. She is sharing some images of delightful vintage valentines. Don't forget to check out all the other bloggers posting today. 

I haven't been posting much lately. I wish I could claim that it was because I have been writing, but other than the odd fits and starts of poems, I have been otherwise occupied. I managed to read some poetry off and on - but even that has been sketchy.

Here is what I've been up to in the last little while.


I finally got around to reading SoccerVerse by Elizbeth Steinglass. This book received many accolades. Every review I read praised it to the moon. After that kind of a set up I figured it just couldn't live up to that kind of adulation.

I was wrong.

There are so many reasons to love this book.
It's about soccer, but it's also about living and playing together in harmony with different kinds of people.
It acknowledges that soccer is a universal sport played by boys and girls.
It brilliantly showcases a variety of different poetic forms.
It provides ideal mentor texts for teaching poetry.
Edson Ike's illustrations are the perfect companion to these words.
Ultimately it's just a wonderful collection of poems that happen to be soccer related!

Here are a few of my favourite bits:

From Uniform Day,

Anything would have been better than green--
green like a wobbly, soggy old bean.
I don't want to look cooked. I want to look mean.

And those reverse poems - Instructions to Field Players & The Goalkeeper. Just Wow!

Another poem that wowed me was that last bit from The Handshake

I don't want to shake her hand,
but I do
because I don't want to be her.

I've finished reading and rereading 16 Words: William Carlos Williams & "The Red Wheelbarrow" by Lisa Rogers and Chuck Groenink.
It's the author's interpretation of what might have motivated Williams to write his famous poem. Along the way we readers learn a lot about the poet's life as a doctor and author. It's beautifully written and illustrated. I especially appreciate that they highlight Williams' ability to notice and write about ordinary things and ordinary people. His gift, through choosing words so carefully, is to make them seem extraordinary. I love the way the art brings it all together. 

I'm also reading - bit by bit, When You Ask Me Where I'm Going by Jasmin Kaur, a local poet. This is intense adult verse. I read a bit, then leave it to sit for a while before returning to read another. I will do a full review when I am done.

Mrs Clause put a copy of The Best of Today's Little Ditty: 2017-2018 by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes in my stocking, and other than just browsing it, I haven't seriously gotten into it. I will soon!

My partner and I have been married 40+ years. Since It's Valentines Day, I'm sharing my all time favourite love poem by Amy Lowell. It is just right for us.

Decade

When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all for I know your savour,
But I am completely nourished.

#IMWAYR FEBRUARY 10, 2020

Well, here we are. It's #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 worked a week in kindergarten and survived - just barely. I'm now fighting some kind of virus and hope it isn't hand, foot and mouth disease. It was making its rounds while I was there. My hands are chapped from all the hand washing and cleaning with disinfectant! The good news is that I am only scheduled to work two days a week from here on in!

Thankfully all the Cybils reading is over and the winners will be announced this coming Wednesday! I'm biting my tongue so I don't blurt out the winners in the graphic novel category.

Titles with a 🍁 indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator.

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

PICTURE BOOKS

4 stars
Deep Underwater by Irene Luxbacher 🍁

Many of the mixed media collages in this book are breathtaking. (That’s kind of a pun) A young girl goes on a fantastical journey into the deepest, darkest regions of the ocean. She takes us into "where dragons live" and “hot gassy bubbles burp secrets from deep inside the center of the earth..”

5 stars
We March by Shane W. Evans

The spare text and glorious illustrations relate a profound event in the history of the civil rights movement in the USA. I appreciate that it is personalized so we come to to understand its significance on individuals and their families. I’m looking forward to reading this to little people next week. I also appreciated the additional details in the author’s note in the back matter.

4 stars
Colette's Lost Pet (Mile End #1) by Isabelle Arsenault 🍁

I adore Isabelle Arsenault's art. Collette, dressed in a yellow hat and coat like a modern day Red Riding Hood, wants a pet. Her parents say no and chase her outside to play. As she meets children in her new neighbourhood she tells an increasingly fantastical tale about her missing parakeet named Marie Antoinette. By the end, her imaginative story telling helps her make friends of them all. I didn't like this as much as the the second book in this series, Albert's Quiet Quest, but it was still enjoyable.

3.5 stars
The Imperfect Garden by Melissa Assaly & April dela Noche Milne (Illustrations) 🍁

A young person helps with the garden and discovers that fruits and vegetables do not grow in uniform shapes and sizes.
While it is a bit pedantic, this is a wonderful book to introduce children to the quirky joys of gardening.

3 stars
Tomorrow Most Likely by Dave Eggers & Lane Smith (Illustrations)

Lane Smith's art is truly spectacular in this. Tomorrow, beyond the confines of our predictable homes, is loaded with possibility. The book celebrates this.

GRAPHIC NOVELS

4 stars
Chick and Brain: Smell My Foot! (Chick and Brain #1) by Cece Bell

This was a hit with kindergarteners last week. There is lots of humour and surprises, with just a bit of danger (a chicken eating dog) thrown in.

5 stars
The Midwinter Witch (The Witch Boy #3) by Molly Ostertag

If you have ever wondered what a witch family reunion might be like, this book is for you! At the Vanissen Midwinter Festival, the clan gathers to celebrate togetherness and crown the new year's shapeshifter and witch. 
Ariel, the lone witch from The Hidden Witch, is now learning the art of witchcraft with Aster and his family. She is invited to come along with them and agrees to attend so long as Charlie, their non witch friend, can come along too. It isn't easy for Ariel to learn to abide by rules and be considerate of others. When, unbeknownst to the Vanissen' family, Ariel's aunt, a renegade witch, contacts her and invites Ariel to come and live with her, she is seriously tempted.
I adore this series. In this third instalment, Molly Ostertag finishes it all up with a happy ever after. I hope it doesn't mean it is the end.


NOVELS

4 stars
Song Angel by Nancy Hundal 🍁

I was nervous starting this book because it is written by someone I know. I was dreading that it might not work for me. Thank goodness I had nothing to worry about. Right from the get go I was awed by the world building. How do people conjure up these kinds of realities? I will ask her next time I see her!

Carmen is an angel. Her responsibility is to find the just right song to help people die and move on to the sweet hereafter. If she fails, they will end up with her in the After. We discover that in this intermediary place, as they help the dying transition from earth, song angels have to deal with unresolved issues in their own Before.

I didn't read the prologue until after I had finished the book. I wish I had read it earlier because I think it would have sped up my connection to Carmen.

By the end of this book my eyes were leaking - a lot.

5 stars
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) Holly Black & Caitlin Kelly (Narrator

Talking about world building, Holly Black is brilliant.
I was hooked almost as soon as I started reading this story of twin sisters, Taryn and Jude, growing up in the land of the fey. Each of them craves, in their own way, to belong. Jude is one kickass protagonist. I love her.
As soon as I finished this I put a reserve on the next one in the series.

3 stars
The Lost Sisters (The Folk of the Air #1.5) by Holly Black

I couldn't let go of Holly Black's world so when I saw this little novella available as an ebook, I downloaded it. As interesting as it was to read Taryn's perspective on the events in The Cruel Prince, I ended up disliking her even more.

NONFICTION

5 stars
The Grizzly Mother (Mothers of Xsan) by Hetxw'ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson) & Natasha Donovan (Illustrations) 🍁

This is the second book by this duo. Each one highlights the Gitxsan’s way of knowing the world by showing the interconnectedness of culture and nature. The focus on mothers parallels the matrilineal kinship system of the people. In this instance, we learn about the grizzly mother’s behaviour as it pertains to certain times of the year. These times are connected to the Gitxzan calendar of moons.
Like The Sockeye Mother, the text incorporates Gitxsan terms and doesn’t hesitate to use challenging vocabulary. Most of these words are explained in small text boxes. The back matter gives extra information about the Gitxsan people with a chart of the different moons. It also shows a map of their unceded territory.
Natasha Donovan’s art is gorgeous. She illustrates the interconnectedness of nature and culture through use of traditional art into the landscapes.
I'm looking forward to reading The Eagle Mother
These books are highly recommended and can be ordered through Strong Nations Publications. School libraries should purchase at least a couple of copies of each one.

POETRY

5 stars
Soccerverse by Elizabeth Steinglass & Edson IkΓͺ (Illustrator)

Just Wow!
There are so many reasons to love this book.
It's about soccer, but it's also about living and playing together in harmony with different kinds of people.
It acknowledges that soccer is a universal sport played by boys and girls.
It brilliantly showcases a variety of different poetic forms.
It provides ideal mentor texts for teaching poetry.
Edson Ike's illustrations are the perfect companion to these words.
Ultimately it's just a wonderful collection of poems that happen to be soccer related!

CURRENTLY

I'm listening to The Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith. With my eyes I'm reading Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson. I'm trying to finish up all the Canada Reads books before March 19th when the debate begins. I've finished two already. Click the link if you are interested in finding out more about this. I've also got a couple of poetry collections on the go.

UP NEXT

Empire of the Wild by Cherie Dimaline is queued up to by my next audiobook. Other than that I'll try to make some kind of headway in my stack of library books, and Netgalley titles before delving into the boxes of books I have to read as a juror for the Chocolate Lily awards.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2020: 3/25

#MustReadNFIn2020: 2/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 6/25 one in progress

100 books by Canadian Authors: 14/100

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 59/333