#IMWAYR March 9, 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.

It's been a hectic week here, but as I sit down Sunday evening to write this, it's finally quiet. My son, his wife, and our granddaughter who lived with us, moved into their own place this week. It was time and we are happy to see them settled, but my partner and I are really missing those good night hugs and kisses. We celebrated my other son's birthday this weekend. There was a family poker game on Saturday night, and we had a huge feast this evening. I'm stuffed and having a hard time keeping my eyes open.

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.


Canadian Women Now and Then: More than 100 Stories of Fearless Trailblazers by Elizabeth MacLeod & Maia Faddoul (Illustrations)


Nibi's Water Song by Sunshine Tenasco & Chief Lady Bird (Illustrator) 🍁

I love the art and the bouncy text in this book.
Two important messages make up the essence of this story. The first is Nibi's search for a glass of clean water. Many indigenous people in Canada do not have access to clean drinking water. Nibi's excursion into a nearby "white" neighborhood shows that they have clean water. The second message is the role of collective action to make change. When Nibi gets fed up and starts to protest, more people join in - those from her own community and others outside it. Only then does change happen.

Larf by Ashley Spires 🍁

Poor Larf, the Sasquatch, thinks he is the last of his kind. He doesn't mind being all by himself, in fact he likes it. When he reads that a sasquatch is scheduled to make an appearance in a nearby town, he decides to go. Maybe he is not the only one.
This has all of Ashley Spires classic sweetness and humour and her gorgeous art. The kindergarten group that I read this to loved it!

Poetree by Shauna LaVoy Reynolds & Shahrzad Sliney (Illustrations)

When a young girl writes a poem to a tree, she doesn't expect a reply, especially not in verse, but that's what seems to have happened to Sylvia. When that gets sorted out, she ends up with a new friend who loves words and poetry as much as she does.
Shahrzad Maydani's art is just lovely with this.

William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow & William Pène du Bois (Illustrator)

This was a suggested read in a library I was in last week. I had forgotten how powerful it is. William wants a doll, but his father refuses. When his grandmother comes for a visit, she gets him one.
Before I read this to a group of grade 1/2 students, I asked them how many had dolls. I am sad that more than half the boys did not.
It's 2020 and we still have a long long way to go.

Ella the Elegant Elephant by Carmela D'Amico & Steve D'Amico (Illustrator)

This was another suggested read in a library I was in last week. Ella is bullied because her hat is not the same as the one everyone else is wearing. The grade 1/2 class I was working with made the connection between the event that initiated Pink Day. In each situation, people were bullied because of what they wore. What distresses me about this book is that Ella has to perform a magical feat with her hat to be accepted by her classmates.

Ghost's Journey: A Refugee Story by Robin Stevenson 🍁

I read this to students from grades 1 to 6. It was a hit for all of them. Some appreciated it more than others, but all felt the book was appropriate for them.
This third person narrative is told from the perspective of Ghost, a white cat who lives with two gay men. (The book calls them dads.) They live in Java where queer people are persecuted. Ghost does her best to comfort and guard them. After begin forced to move numerous times, the men end up fleeing to Canada.
This book is based on a true story. Ghost and the two men now live in Vancouver, B.C.
The stylized illustrations are created from photographs taken by Rainer Oktovianus, one of these men. I wish he had been given mention on the cover.

Tallulah Plays the Tuba by Tiffany Stone & Sandy Nichols (Illustrator) 🍁

I read this to a group of grade 3/4 students today. A few really liked it. Others were meh, and the rest gave it three stars, so that's what I'm going with here.
It's the story of Tullulah, a girl who is petite for her age. She really really wants to play the tuba. Her band teacher tells her she is too small. But Tallulah really really wants to play the tuba, so she comes up with all kinds of solutions. None of them work until she gets exceptionally creative. I appreciated how supportive her classmates were in all of her ideas.
These students got the message of not giving up and not letting being either too small or too big stop you from doing what you want. But they wanted to know why they just didn't get a small sized tuba for her. Good question!

Why? by Adam Rex & Claire Keane (Contributor)

Behind the humor in this book is a lot of serious reflection on why we become who we are, what it means to be human, and how we might change.
It's brilliant.
As someone who lives with a toddler, I can attest that they do indeed have the capacity to bring out the best in us even if they drive us crazy at the same time.

My Footprints by Bao Phi & Basia Tran (Illustrator)

I loved the art in this story of a young girl trying to deal with bullying. To build up her confidence she imagines herself as different kinds of animals. Her two moms help her out by sharing powerful mythical creatures from their own cultural backgrounds.

Roar Like a Dandelion by Ruth Krauss & Sergio Ruzzier (Illustrations)

I had no idea what this book was about going into it, except that I adore the work of both of these contributors.
This is a unique and quirky alphabet book. Each letter is represented by a verb that begins a sentence. Some of them are delightfully out there.
At first I wasn't sure if the two different artists' styles were working together. Then it clicked for me and I came to appreciate the joy in this picture book. Like other reviewers have mentioned, that line, Look under the bed for poetry, is a highlight.

The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota's Garden by Heather Smith & Rachel Wada (Illustrations) 🍁

This story references the tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011. It's a story of personal loss in the midst of overwhelming tragedy. It's also about healing and going on with your life. It is inspired by the true story of artist, Itaru Sasaki, who build a phone booth in his yard to talk to his dead cousin. After the tsunami disaster, people flocked to his phone booth in search of comfort.
The artwork in this book is just gorgeous. The group of grade 3/4's I read it to loved it as much as I did, but were not so impressed by the story overall.
I admit to having conflicted feelings about the author not being Japanese, but appreciate that the illustrator is of Japanese-Cantonese background. According to the cover notes, she 'combined traditional Japanese art forms and techniques ... with her own personal twist, referencing Japanese Children's books, traditional woodblock prints and photos from the time of the 2011 disaster to create the illustrations."


Mya's Strategy to Save the World by Tanya Lloyd Kyi 🍁

Seriously, how can you not love a book that starts like this.
There are two types of people in the world: those who sleep with tissue boxes on their bedside tables, and those who pick their noses before bed and wipe their boogers on the sheets. I am the first type. My sister, Nanda, is the second.
I adored this book. Mya is a fabulous character. She is an activist in her elementary school with a goal of getting a joy with the UN and saving the world. In the meantime, she leads her school’s Kids For Social Justice club where they write letters and raise money for different causes. She’s going through the usual growing up stuff – best friend problems, lack of a cell phone, and the inkling of romance. On top of that, her mother is in Myanmar with her sick Grandmother. The book is set during the time she is away.
I love all these characters. I love that the adults - both parents and teachers - are good people trying to do their best who care about kids. I love the humour in this. I laughed out loud more than once, especially when the little sister uses maxi pads to replace her missing shin guards. I couldn't wait to see what the target audience (grade 4 - 7) thinks of it. Then I read that first paragraph to a group of grade 3/4 students. They were not impressed. Sigh.

Kiddo by Cynthia Nugent 🍁

As much as I wanted to love this, I struggled with the beginning of it. I ended up infatuated, but am not sure that readers will put the effort into getting to that point. It reminded me of Homer Price by Robert McCloskey. There is plenty of humour in this tale of Katherine Wisteria Warble (Kiddo), a young girl who wants, more than anything, to be next years Junior Reporter for the local newspaper. In order to qualify she has to acquire a certain number of points over the summer holiday. The novel is composed of her different attempts to get them.
While there is plenty of situational humour, the quirkily authentic characters add to it. Other than Jeremy ("Germ") Marroon, Kiddo's arch nemesis, and another nasty adult, they are full of sweetness. Kiddo, who is liable to act before thinking, is especially delightful. She's a great story teller, but can't spell worth a darn. (Maybe I like her so much because I still have trouble with spelling.)
The novel is set in the 1960's although it takes a while to figure this out. I wish this time frame had been established more clearly earlier on. I especially appreciated how the novel dealt with the social issues of the time: the struggles of women and girls, and the ignorance of previous historical wrongs like Japanese Internment. I only wish there could have been some connection to indigenous issues. As a child growing up in these years, we might not have been truly aware, but I had friends who were part of the 50's & 60's scoop and had to deal with racism.

A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #15) by Louise Penny & Robert Bathurst (Narrator) 🍁

probably 3.5 stars.
I enjoyed being back in the world of Three Pines and it's citizens. I appreciated the integration of important issues like domestic abuse and the environmental consequences of flooding, but I didn't connect to this book like I have to the previous ones.
Of course, if Louise Penny writes another in the series, I'll probably read it.

Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner

I'm in the middle of writing an in depth review of this. I mostly adored this book. Gae Polisner writes gorgeously authentic characters, but parts of this book troubled me. I suspect those aspects are ones that adults need to pay attention to more than teens do.


Canadian Women Now and Then: More than 100 Stories of Fearless Trailblazers by Elizabeth MacLeod, Maia Faddoul (Illustrations) 🍁

I shared my review of this on International Women's Day. I love seeing so many remarkable Canadian women highlighted in this book. Go read my full review if you want to know more.


I'm listening to Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy. Nevers by Sara Cassidy is the novel I have on the go and I just started reading Becoming RBG by Debbie Levy and Whitney Gardener.


It Wasn't Me by Dana Alison Levy is lined up to be my next audiobook. Other than that, I will continue pulling out books from the boxes and see what happens. I must start rereading John Lewis' March trilogy for an upcoming book club.


#MustReadIn2020: 4/25

#MustReadNFIn2020: 3/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 9/25

100 books by Canadian Authors: 44/100

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 104/333


  1. So many great picture books! I have Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me in my stack and I've got to find time to read it!

    1. Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me is an interesting read for sure.

  2. Wow, Cheriee! There are so many picture books that sound great here. I will look for Nibi's Water Song, though sometimes my library doesn't have all the books from Canada. I have William's Doll, a long-time favorite. I gave my son a doll (long ago) & remember some family members were not so happy about that. Kiddo is new to me, interesting that Hey Kiddo! was out last year! I'm sure your home is quieter now, a good and bad thing! Thanks for all!

    1. My boys had dolls and clothes my mother made for them. They used to dress up the dolls and their stuffed animals and have tea parties! Both of them are fabulous Dads now.

  3. My goodness, I need to go back and make sure I have these books on my list. I've read only three of them, so I'm grateful for your reviews on the others. I'm especially looking forward to Ghost's Journey: A Refugee Story. It sounds just wonderful. I hope your son and his family settle in nicely to their new home -- I'm sure there are lots of mixed feelings, though. Have a wonderful reading week, Cheriee!

    1. Thanks Shaye. I'm sure I will manage to get more of my other kids of work done (quilting and knitting) but you are right about the mixed feelings. Ghost's Journey is wonderful because of how accessible it is for a wide audience.

  4. I'm glad you were able to have a pleasant family weekend! Sounds like playing poker there would be so much fun. You have a great list this week. I've ordered Larf, My Footprints, and Roar Like a Dandelion from my library. Looking forward to reading these. Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

    1. I did not play poker, but it sounded like the rest of them had a great time. (I just supplied sausage and cheese and pecan pie snacks.)

  5. It sounds like you had an amazing weekend :)
    I have not read any of these books though I want to read so many, specifically Jack Kerouac!

    Happy reading this week :)

    1. It was a wonderful time! My granddaughter fell asleep on my chest Saturday night. It doesn't get any better than that!
      I will be looking forward to reading what you think of Jack Kerouac.

  6. The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota's Garden sounds excellent, I will need to get a copy for my daughter. Mya's Strategy to Save the World also sounds great!

  7. I fell in love with William's Doll when I first read it last year.

    1. Of course you did! Who wouldn't? I only wish boys having dolls wasn't still such a big deal!

  8. Sounds like a fun family party!
    I really can't wait to read your full review of JACK. I loved it so much, although the ending bothered me the most. Wondering what your thoughts are!