#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.


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.


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.


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.


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.'


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.


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.


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...


#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


  1. Thank you for highlighting so many picture books! I'm teaching children's lit in the spring, and since that's not my area, I'm usually at a lost for books to share with my students. I can't wait to check these out.

    I have the Little Women graphic novel on deck. Glad to hear you liked it!

  2. Scarecrow is really beautiful! Because of the Rabbit is one of my favorites.

  3. You've shared so many of my favorite picture books, Cheriee, like Scarecrow & Hello! Lighthouse, all wonderful! I also loved Caravan to the North, though sad to know it's still happening. I didn't know about the graphic "Meg, Jo, Beth, & Amy" book. There are many books out now connected to Little Women. I wonder what Louisa May Alcott would think? Thanks for all! If you need it, wishing you a snow day!

  4. What a great week of reading. The Little Women graphic novel does well, which is funny since the original does NOT. I thought this was interesting: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux. If you were a big fan, you might enjoy it.

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  6. So many great books this week. I really loved 150 Years and Lighthouse. I keep meaning to grab The Scarecrow, but it has been signed out a lot lately. I will try again this week. I hope my public library gets Small in the City as I won't until next year, but I would like to read it. I liked how you phrased your switch to Because of the Rabbit and I might have to do that soon as well as I have been reading a bit more YA lately. Thanks for all the shares, such a great post! Stay warm and safe this week, the roads look pretty scary down there.

  7. So much snow!! I had to push a stroller through it today - not much fun! I'm curious to see a book illustrated but not written by Jan Thomas - Mem Fox and Jan Thomas sounds like quite the kidlit dream team!!

  8. Wow! Lots of great books this week! I loved Scarecrow and so did my students. Roll with It is one of my favorite reads of 2019. I keep seeing Small in the City reviews so I need to get a copy at my local library.

  9. Your picture books are filled with beautiful illustrations this week!
    I'm glad you enjoyed Roll With It. I find it so interesting to have conversations about disabilities with my daughter who has a physical disability. She would agree it's ridiculous to not acknowledge that she has a disability, but she does everything she can that she can. I love her outlook on life!

    1. Your daughter sounds amazing. I once met someone trying to negotiate a sidewalk corner that didn't have a little ramp built in. I told him my dad had used a chair and offered to help him out. After we got to the other side of the street we had an interesting conversation. He was much younger than my father. I asked him if it was possible to accept the need to use a chair for the rest of his life. He said, 'Hell No, you never accept it, but you get better at coping." My father got better at coping with being dependent on his chair, but he never stopped taking off his glasses when company came over, even though he was nearly blind without them.

  10. You must have books everywhere! Thanks for all the reviews. I saw the Little Women movie and thought it was beautiful. I can't quite grasp the idea of a graphic novel. I'm a huge Cynthia Lord fan but haven't read her new book yet. Sounds sweet just like I like 'em.

    1. I wouldn't have read this version of Little Women, except it is a cybils finalist. I'm not sure it will be in my top three, but it turned out to be a delightful surprise.

  11. I am happy to read your review of Roll with It. My 9yo daughter really wants to read it, so I'll be sure to grab a copy

  12. Hope you're staying warm in all of the nasty winter weather! You have a great round up of books this week. I especially enjoyed The Scarecrow. I'll definitely have to get over to the library and look for the others. Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

  13. Your list is amazing this week, Cheriee. You have some of my very favorite picture books (i.e. Small in the City, The Scarecrow, The Lighthouse) and I am looking forward to They Called Us Enemy. Thank you for all these lovely shares!