#IMWAYR January 20, 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.



Howdy everyone. Hope your reading week was a wonderful as mine. We had a snow day so I got in some extra reading and sewing time. I am trying to cut out the pieces for a quilt for my son and his partner. I'm also messing around with zentangles to figure out how to quilt it. This project is going to take me way out of my comfort zone!

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.

BLOG POSTS LAST WEEK

When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald

PICTURE BOOKS


4 stars
Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border by Mitali Perkins & Sara Palacios (Illustrations)

Based on a real event, Mitali Perkins and Sara Palacios tell the story of a young girl, her little brother, and their mother who travel to visit their grandmother during La Posada Sin Fronteras. They can only visit for thirty minutes with tight wire fencing between them. When the young brother is distraught because he can't give his gift to his grandmother, the girl comes up with a brilliant solution. I love that all the people, including the border guards, were cheering them on.


5 stars
The Truth About Grandparents by Elina Ellis

This book is just delightful! It's all about the juxtaposition of the text with the illustrations. At the same time as a child is telling us what people say about about old people, the illustrations reveal that it sure isn't true about his grandparents!


4 stars
Mama's Belly by Kate Hosford & Abigail Halpin (Illustrator)

I might like this one, but it is not one of my granddaughter's favourites. I will try it a few more times with her. Perhaps she will take to it more as the time for her new baby sister to arrive gets nearer. The story took me back to when I was pregnant with my second child. Abigail Halpin's art is gorgeous.

GRAPHIC NOVELS


5 stars
Waves by Ingrid Chabbert &  Carole Maurel (Illustrations)

This exquisitely illustrated autobiographical graphic novel made my heart ache. Based on the author's experience, it tells the story of becoming pregnant and then losing their baby through miscarriage. It shows her and her wife struggling with their grief after such a profound loss, but managing to survive.


Kiss Number 8 by Colleen A.F. Venable & Ellen T. Crenshaw (Illustrator)

There are two interconnected stories going on here. Mad's family is full of secrets. On the one hand there is the question of what happened to her grandmother. On the other, Mad, in search of the ideal boy, becomes aware of her own interest in girls. Her previous best friends abandon her. Mad ends up leaving Catholic school and going to public where she makes new friends and ends up comfortable with who she is - maybe even bi. I didn't like this at first. It took a while to get into, as in, it wasn't a problem to take a break. I ended up hating the friend Cat, but that I think, is the sign of great writing and art. I ended up loving this.


Tiger vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri

This charming graphic novel is ideal for younger readers tells the story of two friends, Tiger and Monster. Usually Monster frightens away Tiger's nightmares, but then a nightmare arrives that is too big for Monster to deal with and the two of them have to work together to deal with it.


Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu (Artist)

I loved being dropped into this magical world. It reminded me of Terry Pratchett's witches. There is a lot going on here in this plot: romance, battling demons, magic, and betrayal. Ultimately it's a coming of age novel.

NOVELS


5+ stars
When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald 🍁

Preorder this book.
In the middle of reading plenty of stunning books last week, this one was the crown jewel. Zelda, a young girl with symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome, is obsessed with Vikings. Her's is a voice you don't want to miss. This link will take you to my full review.




NONFICTION


5 stars
From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

I had nightmares after starting this book. I kept trying to get back into it, but I was terrified. Finally, I just sat down and ploughed through.
In this autobiography Jesse Thistle writes about being abandoned and placed in abusive foster homes with his two brothers. Eventually he and his brothers were rescued and taken in by their paternal grandparents. They loved the boys but were strict taskmasters who didn’t spare the rod. When he began to use drugs, they shunned him.
Jesse’s story is a slow downward spiral that escalates into addiction, homelessness, a life of crime and prison stays. In his thirties he finally made his way through rehab and ended up going to university. A university project set him on a path to discover his family story. From this he became aware of who he was and this understanding added to his healing process.
I am glad I returned to finish this and am honoured to have read his story. It’s one that’s all too familiar. Jesse Thistle is Indigenous 🍁

CURRENTLY

I'm still listening to Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I took a bit of a break but am back to reading a collection of poetry, When You Ask Me Where I'm Going, by Jasmin Kaur. I will try to finish it since it has to be returned to the library before Tuesday morning. I just started rereading Surviving the City by Tasha Spillett.

UP NEXT


I've got this stack of graphic novels to finish up lickety-split. I hope plan to finish them this week. I hope to get a chance to read Song Angel by Nancy Hundal. If the goddesses are with me, I'll get the picture book pile under control too.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2020: 2/25 one in progress

#MustReadNFIn2020: 2/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 4/25

100 books by Canadian Authors: 5/100

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 31/333

When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It will published January 28, 2020, by Simon & Schuster Canada.

Preorder this book!

I guarantee that you need to make space in your heart for Zelda and her tribe.

Zelda is a twenty-one year old who lives with her older brother, Gert. Their dead mother drank while pregnant with both of them. Gert was okay, but Zelda has symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome. Gert does his best to look after both of them. However, to get them away from their evil Uncle Richard, he had to borrow money from a gang leader. He’s supposed to be going to college, but is now in deep trouble with the gang.

Zelda is obsessed with Vikings. From them she finds her role models. She is determined to live her life according to those ancient Norse warriors. Protecting her tribe is integral to their principles. When she realizes that Gert needs to pay off their debt to the gang, she manages to get a part time job in the library to help out. Her further attempts to rescue him take her into dangerous territory.

Luckily Zelda has some phenomenal people supporting her. There’s Annie, (AK47) Gert's ex girlfriend; Zelda's therapist, Dr. Laird; the people at the community centre; and Carol, her boss at the library.

I loved all the supportive adults in this novel, but especially AK47 who understands how to explain things to Zelda. There is some straight talking here that goes into great detail about sex. Zelda has a boyfriend, Marxy, who she is planning on having sex with. Unfortunately, he has a somewhat overbearing mother. This whole section is brilliant and to be honest, I wish I'd had someone like AK47 to mentor me when I was younger.

Zelda narrates this story. Her voice is pure joy. Even when she isn’t fully aware of what’s happening, readers can infer the (often terrifying) realities of her situation. There is humour - some aspects were laugh out loud hilarious. At other times I wept. By the end I was a sobbing mess.

This is a beautifully written debut novel. My favourite quote in the entire book is, "Sometimes the most important things don't fit on lists."

Don't Miss this Book!

#IMWAYR January 13, 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.



As I write this Sunday evening, snow is blasting from the sky. There are rumours of a snow day for schools tomorrow. I've got a Dr appointment in the morning and a book club meeting in the afternoon. If I have to cancel it all, the good news is that I will have more time for reading and or sewing.
I made serious progress in my piles of books this week, especially those picture books! It's a good thing as I picked up another eighteen books from the library last Friday. I swear, all those books that were on order all arrived at the same time!
On a positive note, I now have copies of all the graphic novels I need to read for the Cybils. I'm making my way through them. They are all so good it's going to be brutal to pick a winner. 

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
Around the Table That Grandad Built by Melanie Heuiser Hill & Jaime Kim (Illustrations)

This charming cumulative tale describes a family setting a table in readiness for a feast. I love the connection to homemade items like napkins. I appreciated the connections and meaning behind many of the objects, glasses from a wedding and cutlery from a great grandparent. The descriptions of food nearly had me salivating!

4 stars
King Mouse by Cary Fagan & Dena Seiferling (Illustrations)🍁

There is a vintage feel to this sweet picture book. A mouse finds a crown and enjoys being treated as royalty by the other animals. He is a bit miffed when a snake finds a crown and then so do others. When the mouse sees that bear is left out, he heads off to offer solace and friendship. It’s this act of kindness and friendship that make the book for me.

4 stars
How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander & Melissa Sweet (Illustrator)

I can’t help but imagine these words read as spoken word poetry. Melissa Sweet’s illustrations explode with energy in this celebration of reading.

5 stars
Small in the City by Sydney Smith πŸ

Sydney Smith makes us work for this. It’s worth it. I read this 3 times just to savour everything about it. Sometimes the city is overwhelming even for adults! Smith captures this in wordless graphic novel type panels and in a single page spread where the images are fractured. I love this surprise ending.

5 stars
Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall

Just Wow! The art in this is spectacular. It almost overshadows the words, but instead combines to make a tale worth reading over and over. I appreciated the notes at the end of the book with details about the history of lighthouses. I especially appreciated reading that the lighthouse here is based on one in Newfoundland.

5+ stars
The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry, & Eric Fan and Terry Fan (Illustrators) πŸ

I really want to give this more than 5 stars.
Rhyming picture books don't always work for me, but when, like this one, they do - Wow!
A scarecrow is renowned for it's ferocity until a baby crow lands at its feet. What ensues is the development of a profound relationship between the scarecrow and the crow. This book celebrates the power of connection and friendship. It's so heartfelt it's difficult not to tear up.
The Fan brothers have outdone themselves in this one. Each page is a work of art worthy of hanging in a gallery. This is the ideal perfect marriage between words and images.

4 stars
Let's Count Goats! by Mem Fox & Jan Thomas (Illustrator)

I am not sure why this book would get poor reviews.
I found it delightful, but then, I live with a 2 1/2 year old. It's a counting book for sure, but much more is going on. It's loaded with the language of prepositions and adjectives. (I wish I had this when I was working with English language learners.)
Jan Thomas' art makes the whole book a hilarious romp.

4 stars
Hattie and the Fox by Mem Fox, Patricia Mullins (Illustrator)

Mem Fox is the queen of just right books for preschool and primary children. The repetitive fun text is sure to support emerging readers. Patricia Mullen's art is perfect.

4 stars
Hunwick's Egg by Mem Fox, Pamela Lofts (Illustrator)

Hunwick loves his egg and doesn't care what other's think or say. The beauty in this book, both words and art, made my heart sing.

GRAPHIC NOVELS

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott & Harmony Becker (Artist)

This is a powerful graphic novel. I have read narratives of Japanese internment here in Canada and the USA previously. Takei and his family endured numerous camps. The graphic novel format of this memoir highlights the experience in ways text alone is incapable of. I liked the movement back and forth in time. It helps to put governmental and societal actions into perspective and enables readers to make connections to what is going on in our world today. I am impressed by the elder Takei's faith in the power of participatory democracy despite how it failed him and his family. This is a book I plan to give away as gifts.

This Place: 150 Years Retold by authors: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Chelsea Vowel, Katherena Vermette, Jen Storm, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, David Alexander Robertson, Richard Van Camp, Brandon Mitchell, Sonny Assu, Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley;  illustrators: GMB Chomichuk, Scott B. Henderson, Tara Audibert, Natasha Donovan, Kyle Charles, Scott A. Ford Donovan Yaciuk, Andrew Lodwick and Ryan Howe; and Forword by Alicia Elliott

This collection of stories, each written and illustrated by different indigenous Canadians, educates readers about different people and events in the Canadian history of colonization. I especially appreciated how each one divulges aspects that end up personalizing history. Francis Pegahmagabow, (Peggy) the most effective sniper of World War I and important Indigenous rights activist, upon his return from war, is shown, because of the Indian Act, unable to get a loan to purchase farm equipment.  It's in the details like this and others shown here, that we see systemic racism at work. I appreciated that these stories span the gamut of time so they end up revealing continuing racism today and perhaps even into the future.
This is an important book that should to be in every library in Canada.

The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O'Neill

This graphic novel, a sequel to The Tea Dragon Society, is told in seven chapters. Renn who loves to cook, is hoping to eventually become an apprentice chef. On one of her food foraging expeditions she comes upon a sleeping dragon, Aedhan. Aedhan, woken after a nap of eighty years, was supposed to be guarding the village. When her uncle Erik and his friend, Hesekiel, arrive for a visit, it turns out that their visit and the mythical creature who put Aedhan to sleep in the first place, are connected.
This is a coming of age tale, but it is much more. Ultimately it's a book that celebrates diversity. It's there in the different shades of skin, it's there in the use of sign language to communicate, it's there in the deliberate nongendering of some of the characters and it's there in the pairing relationship across species.

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: A Graphic Novel: A Modern Retelling of Little Women by Rey Terciero, Bre Indigo (Illustrations) & Louisa May Alcott

It's been so long since I read the original series by Louisa May Alcott that I have no idea how true these characters are to the original characters.
That said, I loved these sisters here. Each one is unique in her own way. The blended family, his, hers and ours, and the mixed race children are both modern and realistic. Not only did I love the primary family members, I came to appreciate their extended family and their close friends.

NOVELS

5 stars
Roll with It by Jamie Sumner

I wanted to read this book because my father, as a result of a work accident, used a wheelchair from the time he was twenty-five. Living with someone who used a wheel chair made me and my family the 'other.' So ok, it's not the same here, but I know that reading this book when I was of the age that Ellie and her friends are here, would have been revolutionary for me.
Ellie and her mother leave their home in Nashville to go and support her Mema (grandmother) and grandfather to help them deal with his Alzheimer's. While they are in this small town, Ellie makes her first real friends, Coralee, who lives next door, and Bert, who appears to be on the autism spectrum. All of them are what might be called 'other.'
I liked that Ellie's new friend, Coralee, forces her to acknowledge that she will never be 'normal,' but that it doesn't really matter. The important thing about all of them is their humanity. I so appreciate that it is highlighted here for us readers.

4 stars
Because of the Rabbit by Cynthia Lord

In the context of all the emotionally hard reading I've been in the middle of, I needed this sweet gentle story this week. Emma falls in love with the domesticated rabbit she and her game warden father rescue. The next day she starts public school after years of being home schooled. Her biggest hope is to make a best friend. It's harder than she imagines. This story about pets, family and friendship affirms that being yourself and the kind of friend you want to have, is the best way to make true friends.

NONFICTION

Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada’s Chinese Restaurants by Ann Hui πŸ

I really enjoyed this book club choice.
Ann Hui and her partner, Anthony, travelled across the country visiting chop suey restaurants along the way. While working on the project she discovered that her parents had run similar restaurants. This book integrates the story of the author's journey and research with the more personal story of her father's history.
Patterns of family connections and the goal of making a better life for their own children than what they left behind emerged from both of these narratives. Eventually we see this theme expand beyond Chinese immigrants into more recent influxes from other Asian countries.
As Hui visited these immigrant entrepreneurs important themes became pronounced. In each unique setting, the restaurant's cuisine was adapted to fit the local population's tastes and whatever ingredients were available. I am left pondering other themes of taking life a decade at a time, and of living life to experience 'the bitter before the sweet.'

POETRY

5 stars
Caravan to the North: Misael’s Long Walk by Jorge Argueta, Manuel Monroy (Illustrations) & Elizabeth Bell (Translation)

This novel in verse tells the story of a family hoping for a better life in the USA. The left their home in El Salvador because of their fear of gangs and violence. This hardworking family walked 4000 km to reach Tijuana where they expected to cross the border and make a new life. They were not prepared for the hostility that met them.
Although I knew that people join caravans like this, the important thing about this book is that it gives names and voices to those travellers.

CURRENTLY

I'm listening to Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I'm reading From the Ashes: My Story of Being MΓ©tis, Homeless, and Finding My Way by Jesse Thistle. I'm also reading a collection of poetry, When You Ask Me Where I'm Going, by Jasmin Kaur. I've just started reading Kiss Number 8
by Colleen A.F. Venable, one of the Cybil finalists that I haven't already read.

UP NEXT

I've just downloaded Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal by Patty Loew, one of my #MustReadNFIn2020. As much as I am looking forward to reading it and learning more about my grandmother's people, I'm not sure if I will actually get to it for a while. I've got those graphic novels to read closely...

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2020: 2/25 one in progress

#MustReadNFIn2020: 1/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 3/25 one in progress

100 books by Canadian Authors: 4/100

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 22/333

#IMWAYR January 6, 2020

#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.




Hope you have all had a wonderful winter break and happy start to this new year. My partner and I headed off to our Okanagan home for a few days of respite. I didn't get as much reading in as I anticipated because we ended up socializing more than usual. As well, I was busy cutting fabric pieces for a quilt I am making for my son and his partner.

We planned to stay for another week, but I got a request from a friend to work in her library this coming week so we are heading back to Vancouver Monday. The forecast is for snow so wish us luck!

The next little while is going to be kind of busy for me in my reading life. As a round two Cybils' judge, I've got to do some close reading of the finalists in the graphic novels category. Luckily I've read most of them once already. After I will be busy reading as a juror for a local book award. On top of all that, I want to have the quilt I just started finished for my son's birthday on March 2nd.

I know I read more picture books last week but didn't keep track of them on Goodreads so I will update you on those next week.

Titles with a 🍁 indicate this is a Canadian Author and or Illustrator. I πŸ means an indigenous Author and or Illustrator

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

BLOG POSTS LAST WEEK

Reading Goals 2020

Siha Tooskin Knows the Love of the Dance by Charlene Bearhead, Wilson Bearhead & Chloe Bluebird Mustooch (Illustrator)

PICTURE BOOKS


4 stars
Siha Tooskin Knows the Love of the Dance by Charlene Bearhead, Wilson Bearhead & Chloe Bluebird Mustooch (Illustrator) I🍁

Siha Tooskin (Paul) is an 11 year old Nakota boy. This series helps us understand what his life is like. Jeff, his new non indigenous friend is accompanying Paul and his Uncle Lenard to a powwow. It’s Jeff's first time and he’s excited to be seeing everything Paul has told him about. Paul and Uncle Lenard are both dancers. In this book Jeff and readers learn about the history of the powwow and the different kinds of dances.
One of the things I like about this series is the use of the Nakota language in the text and a glossary of terms used at the end of the book.


3 stars
Siha Tooskin Knows the Nature of Life by Charlene Bearhead, Wilson Bearhead & Chloe Bluebird Mustooch (Illustrator) I🍁

This is the second in this series I've read. I don't think they need to be read in order.
Siha Tooskin (Paul) goes on a walk with his Ena (mother) where he learns that trees, rocks, and animals have important lessons to teach him that will help him grow up strong and generous.
I appreciate this insight into indigenous ways of knowing. I just wish there was a bit more 'story' here.


5 stars
Albert's Quiet Quest (Mile End #2) by Isabelle Arsenault 🍁

Poor Albert just wants to find a quiet place to read his book. He finally finds it. Then he is interrupted by all his friends inviting him to play. This book is beautifully illustrated. It’s a cross between a picture book and a graphic novel. The ending is delightfully hilarious

NOVELS


4 stars
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles 🍁

This book took me way out of my comfort zone. It's southern gothic set in Newfoundland. I barely skimmed some sections because I just couldn't handle reading it closely. There are a lot of characters, but it wasn't a problem to keep track of who was who. The two main ones are young women trapped in circumstances of poverty and abuse. It's brilliantly written with the odd bit of dark humour thrown in. It was just emotionally hard work watching the train wreck of their lives unravel.


5 stars
Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater & Will Patton (Narrator)

The only terrible thing about this book is finishing it and having to wait til next November for the sequel. Some of these characters were already dear to me. I appreciated getting to know them better almost as much as I loved meeting the new ones. Maggie Stiefvater’s world has enchanted me. Will Patton’s divine voice (swoon) is an integral component of this reading experience for me.


3.5 stars
Look Both Ways:A Tale Told in Ten Books by Jason Reynolds &

I listened to this as an audiobook, but as much I enjoyed the many different narrators, (especially Bahni Turpin) I think it would have been better for me to have read it with my eyes. It's a collection of short stories based on a group of children who live in the same neighbourhood and go to the same school. It's at times funny, heartbreaking and sweet. I just had a hard time following the different characters and then jumping to a new one. I'm planning on getting a hard copy to read and will see how that works. It appears that this is the beginning of a new series. I'm looking forward to see where it goes.

CURRENTLY

I'm reading This Place:150 Years Retold, a graphic novel anthology. I'm between audiobooks. I've just started Chop Suey Nation by by Ann Hui for my book club next week.

UP NEXT

I'm going to be focusing on graphic novels in the foreseeable future, but hope to get to some of the novels and picture books from my library pile. I'll see what audiobooks become available and what I have on hand. 

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MustReadIn2020: 2/25

#MustReadNFIn2020: 0/12 one in progress

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 2/25 one in progress

100 books by Canadian Authors: 2/100 one in progress

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 5/333

Siha Tooskin Knows the Love of the Dance by Charlene Bearhead, Wilson Bearhead & Chloe Bluebird Mustooch (Illustrator)

 Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. Along with the rest of the series, it will published 26 May 2020, by Portage & Main Press, Canada.

Siha Tooskin (Paul) is an 11 year old Nakota boy. This series helps us understand what his life is like. Jeff, his new non indigenous friend is accompanying Paul and his Uncle Lenard to a powwow. It’s Jeff's first time and he’s excited to be seeing everything Paul has told him about. Paul and Uncle Lenard are both dancers. In this book Jeff and readers learn about the history of the powwow and the different kinds of dances.

There is a lot to love about this book. I liked that Jeff and Paul were responsible and worked together to set up their camp and Jeff was mindful that Paul needed to get into his regalia so he finished up this chore. I liked the camaraderie and joking between all of them. I appreciated that Jeff and other non indigenous readers learn about a time in history when powwows, potlatches and other indigenous gatherings were outlawed. Like Jeff I was fascinated by how the different dances have been adopted from different places and how they have evolved over time.

I was a bit surprised by this book because given the number of pages, I expected it to be a picture book. Instead it’s an illustrated short story. It’s a bit didactic (to me at least,) but I’m ok with that because I doubt student readers will be as cognizant of this.

Chloe Bluebird Mustooch’s illustrations are bright and colourful. I have mixed feelings about the cartoon eyes, especially after looking at her portfolio on line. Her more realistic art is absolutely stunning.


I hope to see this series of books in every school library across Canada. Not only will they be integral to understanding indigenous perspectives, the short length will make them satisfying for reluctant readers.

After reading this book I am especially looking forward to attending Hoobiyee 2020 this coming February. I will understand the dancing much better!