#IMWAYR June 29, 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.

I haven't participated in #IMWAYR for the couple of weeks because I was occupied with family events. There were birthday parties and father's day celebrations. I managed to get a few blog posts written in spite of having my granddaughter with us for a week. Then my sister was here house hunting and helped me celebrate my birthday. (I discovered that I am one year younger than I thought) After she left I got the garden weeded and almost under control (for now.) We have a week or so before my other son brings our grandson for a visit. In the meantime, it's back to renovations for us.

While I didn't have time to read as much as I usually do, what I did get to was mostly brilliant! I have been focusing on reading Indigenous authors for Indigenous History Month here in Canada, but I also read a couple of big books for the big book summer reading challenge. So far I've read some amazing titles. 

On an exciting note, my little local library is now open for curbside pickup. I just got a notice that some of my reserve books are ready for me to come and collect, and a couple more are in transit!

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.


Swift Fox All Along by by Rebecca Thomas & Maya McKibbin (Illustrator)

Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem by Kate DiCamilla & Chris Van Dusen

Northwest Resistance by Katherena Vermette, Scott B Henderson (Illustrations) & Donovan Yaciuk (Colorist)


4 stars
Swift Fox All Along by by Rebecca Thomas & Maya McKibbin (Illustrator) 🍁

A young girl meets her indigenous relatives for the first time. Based on the author's experience, this shows her anxiety and eventual acceptance of this part of who she is. This book had me thinking about what it must be like for all the 'scooped' children who undertake to connect to their heritage. You can read my full review here.

4 stars
The Truth about Wind by Hazel Hutchins, Gail Herbert & DuΕ‘an PetričiΔ‡ (Illustrator) 🍁

This is the story about a boy who finds a toy horse. He keeps it and lies to his family about where it came from. He names the horse Wind. At first everything is good. He loves playing with Wind and telling his parents all about their adventures. Then he starts seeing missing horse pictures, and begins to feel guilt and remorse.

3.5 stars
Quit Calling Me a Monster! by Jory John, Bob Shea (Illustrator)

Floyd Peterson wants you to acknowledge that he is more than just a monster. At the same time as this is humorous, it's also about accepting our differences.


5 stars
Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem by Kate DiCamilla & Chris Van Dusen

I loved this story of adversity and friendship. To be upfront, I am a hardcore fan of this series. Each book is like a visit with old friends. In this one, I appreciated finding out how Baby and Eugenia Lincoln are getting on. I probably say this about each new character Kate introduces us to, but I do believe that Stella and Horace have found a special place in my heart. You can read my full review here.


4 stars
Northwest Resistance by Katherena Vermette, Scott B Henderson (Illustrations) & Donovan Yaciuk (Colorist) 🍁

This is the third volume in the A Girl Called Echo series. The collection focus on the lives of Echo, a young modern day Metis girl who travels back in time to meet with Louis Riel and others during the conflict between Canada and the Metis people in the mid 1800's. You can read my full review here.

5 stars
Stepping Stones (Peapod Farm #1) by Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley's first autobiographical graphic novel for the younger crowd is as important and wonderful as her adult novels. Moving from the city to the country was hard on her eleven year old self for all kinds of reasons. She has to get used to the new man in her mother's life, learn to look after chickens, get along with two step sisters, and deal with her math disability. Here is a story that will resonate for younger readers wherever they live. I especially appreciated the additional information and photographs at the end of the book.


4 stars
Crow Winter by Karen McBride 🍁

This is a story of coming home, healing, and moving forward into a new world. It addresses historic oppression and injustice. Readers are made aware of different ways of knowing the world, especially with respect to land ownership and use.

Hazel Ellis returns home to the reserve to stay with her mother after completing her post secondary degree. Both of them are grieving the death of their father/husband who died of cancer a short while ago.
In the process of learning more about her father and the history of her family and people, Hazel reconnects with her culture and makes connection to the spiritual world. She discovers that her father was keeping secrets and set a plan in motion, that however well meaning, will have catastrophic consequences for all people if let come to fruition.
It’s up to Hazel and her unwilling partner, Nanabush, to do the right thing and save them all.

Hazel’s relationship with Nanabush, her capacity for moving in and out of different realms, and the perspective of Nanabush himself, put me in mind of Celia's Song by Lee Maracle. Maracle's characters inhabit a landscape wherein past, present and future, and physical and spiritual realms exist simultaneously. So do McBrides. 

Karen McBride is an indigenous Canadian. This is her first novel. I am looking forward to reading whatever she comes up with next.

5 stars
The Huntress by Kate Quinn

In spite of being terrified at times, I loved this book. It’s got some fabulous strong characters to admire and care about. I especially appreciated learning the history of the Night Witches.

5 stars
Lovely War by Julie Berry

This tells two beautiful love stories against the backdrop of World War I. I loved the characters and appreciated all the details about the war. I knew something of the hospitals for traumatized soldiers from reading Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy. It was fascinating to learn more about the roles of women at the time. In spite of this being an historical novel, it felt relevant for today, especially since one of the love stories introduces us to a black soldier in a black regiment. I was terrified for him.
I loved the integration of the Greek Gods and Goddesses and the connection to music.

I appreciated the historical notes at the end of this as much as I loved the story itself.

5 stars
Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries #5) by Martha Wells

Martha Wells is just brilliant. I can't believe she can keep coming up with new scenarios for this character. It's such joy to read about Murderbot's slow transformation as he figures out how he fits into the rest of humanity. I usually read these in one sitting. I would have been riveted once again but had my three year old granddaughter visiting. I really love that kid, so I forgive her for interfering with my reading life, but still...
If you are not a Murderbot fan, I feel really sad for you.

4 stars
A Short History of Indians in Canada: Stories by Thomas King 🍁

This is a collection of weird, wonderful, dark and disturbing short stories. I didn’t really understand all of them, but each one compelled me read more. I loved the conversation between Thomas King and Margaret Atwood in the back matter.

5 stars
I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day

While searching the attic Edie and her friends discover a secret box. Inside are photographs and letters from someone named Edith who looks a lot like Edie. Edie surreptitiously attempts to get her parents to reveal more about how she got her name and who this other Edie is, but they remain silent until she confronts them straight on.
All this happens against a backdrop of realistic friendship drama.

As Edie learns about her Native American heritage, we discover that a government agent took her mother away from Edith just after she was born and put her up for adoption. We learn that the apprehension of Native American/Indigenous children was a common occurrence in the fifties, sixties and seventies. Even though this is set in America, it's a relevant and important story for Canadians. Here in Canada we call these apprehensions The Scoops.

It's such a common story that you might know people who were victims of this process. In the small town I grew up in I went to school with Indigenous kids who were 'scooped' and adopted into white families. My hairdresser and her brother were 'scooped' from their Indigenous Canadian family and adopted by a white couple in California.

4 stars
The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson & Matthew Frow & Kimberly Farr (Narrators)

Deborah Hopkinson integrates compelling fictional characters into the true story of Dr John Snow's identification of a poisoned well as the cause of the Broad Street Cholera epidemic. Eel is a homeless young teen who works different jobs to save up money for a secret purpose. When, on the cusp of a cholera outbreak, he loses his steady day job through no fault of his own, he ends up working as Dr Snow's assistant.
Readers will hardly be aware of how much they are learning about science as they become absorbed in this riveting historical drama.
I especially appreciated the extra information in the back matter.
Given that we are living through a pandemic, this is a timely read.


I'm reading a nonfiction title, The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole. Sara and the Search for Normal by Wesley King is the fictional novel I have on the go. I've just started listening to Rick by Alex Gino.


As soon as I pick up my library books I hope to get to A Matter of Malice by Thomas King. Then eventually I'll get to my book club books, Nanaimo Girl by Prudence Emery and Don't Stand So Close to Me by Eric Walters.


Big Books Summer 2020 3/10

#MustReadIn2020: 13/25

#MustReadNFIn2020: 5/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 15/25

100 books by Canadian Authors: 95/100

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 195/333

Swift Fox All Along by by Rebecca Thomas & Maya McKibbin (Illustrator)

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It will be released September 8th 2020 by Annick Press Ltd.

This story is based on the author’s life as a young girl.

Swift Fox’s parents are separated. Usually when she sees her father, they go for ice cream or to the park. Today is special. He is taking her to meet his Mi’kmaq family for the first time. I’m sure many readers will be able to empathize with her anxiety around this as ‘her belly fills with butterflies’ to be meeting new people.

Her father tries to calm her down by telling her that being Mi’kmaq is who she is and what’s inside of her. It doesn’t help. In fact, the butterflies get worse.

When they arrive she is ushered into the house where there are many people to greet her. While they are all friendly and supportive, her anxiety doesn’t abate.

It gets worse when they are about to smudge and she is expected to know what to do. She runs out of the house and hides under a porch.

Eventually she smells her dad’s fry bread and sees another cousin arrive. It’s his first time meeting his relatives and he is also reluctant to go inside. The two cousins connect and go in to the house together.

This time Swift Fox’s dad shows her what to do with the braid of sweetgrass so that she can participate in the smudging ceremony.

I had a bit of trouble with the father and family pushing Red Fox and not being more supportive and understanding. People of any age need to see or be shown something before they can know what to do. Thankfully, the family did end up teaching her what to do and from this she came to find it inside herself. This book provides a great opportunity for a discussion of culture – what it means and how we become part of one.

Maya McKibbin’s art is appealing. I like how she shows emotions in her characters. I wanted to know more about how she created these illustrations, and while I never did figure that out, I did get happily sidetracked into watching her brilliant short films. You can find them here.

Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem by Kate DiCamilla & Chris Van Dusen

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It was published June 9th 2020, by Candlewick Press.

This book filled my heart so full I thought it just might burst with happiness. Truthfully almost all of Kate DiCamillo’s books leave me feeling like this, but her Deckawoo Drive series is especially endearing. I am a serious fan. 

Stella Suzanne Endicott thinks her second grade teacher, Miss Tamar Liliana, is a “Good Fairy Who Vanquishes Old and Irritated Wizards.” She’s not so fond of Horace Broom who knows the answers to every question Miss Liliana asks.

When she lets Horace read her poem, they get in an argument over where pigs live. Horace insists that they live on a farm so Stella cannot possibly have a pig friend who sits on couches. The two end up in a shouting match and are sent to the principal’s office.

On the way Horace falls apart emotionally and Stella tries her best to encourage him to face what is to come. Before their day is over, the two of them end up trapped in a janitor’s closet. What we discover is that as these two children face adversity, they survive because of their combined different strengths.

Although the ending was not unexpected, I was still delighted by it. Not only do they become friends, they learn that life is all about patterns and surprises. All of us, no matter our ages, can stand to be reminded of this jewel of truth.

I love that Stella lives on Deckawoo Drive and through her, we readers get to spend time with Mercy and find out how things are going with Baby and Eugenia Lincoln.

I love Chris Van Dusen’s art in all the other books in the series and am looking forward to seeing the finished illustrations for this one.

Northwest Resistance by Katherena Vermette, Scott B Henderson (Illustrations) & Donovan Yaciuk (Colorist)

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It was released February 25th 2020 by HighWater Press.

The A Girl Called Echo series deals with the history of the Metis in Canada and life for one young Metis girl today. What strikes me as most important about this book and this series, is how it educates us about the roots and history of racism and violence against indigenous peoples. 

Now is the perfect time for all of us to be reading them. 

In this one, the third in the series, we find Echo still in her supportive foster home, only now her mother, who is ill, is there with her.

Fear is a theme in this book. It’s there in Echo’s worry about her mother, and it’s there in her worry about the deaths of the Metis she meets in the past. Knowing ahead of time how this story unfolds didn’t stop me from experiencing this anxiety as I lived through this time with her.

As in the previous books, Echo continues time travelling. This time she finds herself in Batoche, Saskatchewan, during March of 1885. There she is befriended by a girl named Josephine. Together they go to a gathering where Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont are speaking. She discovers that Josephine is the daughter of Benjamin, who she connected with in an earlier book.

Canada is in the process of annexing Metis land once again. “Most of the people were not opposed to becoming part of Canada, but wanted to be able to keep the land that they had inhabited for generations.” However, surveyors were “ignoring their traditional river-lot system and imposing their square-lot system.” They were also concerned that these lots would be given to white European settlers.

The Metis were getting desperate. Numerous petitions had been sent to the federal government but all of them were ignored. Eventually they formed a coalition with other settlers, Cree, and Sioux to go to battle with the Canadian government. In the end, the coalition was outnumbered and outgunned by the military. Louis Riel ended up surrendering in order to save lives.

Readers learn the history of the Metis people both from Echo’s time travelling and what look to be teacher’s lectures. The graphic format is a brilliant way to portray this information. The stunning art builds an atmosphere that is moody, bleak and horrific. It moves from the serene beauty of a winter landscape into the horrors of a young girl experiencing war. 

In her life at home, Echo learns more about her ancestors. Her Mother’s research ends in a genealogy chart showing that Echo is related to Benjamin and Josephine.

As in the other books, for readers who want to know more about this aspect of Canadian history, there is a timeline at the end of the book that outlines significant events. The back matter here also includes a map of the area and a short biography of Gabriel Dumont. 

My only wish about this book is that Echo’s present day story could be better developed up front. I didn't understand what was going on with her mother. I even went back to reread Red River Resistance to see if I had forgotten or missed something.  This however is a quibble, and I am looking forward to going wherever this team want to take me next. 

Canadian school libraries should have numerous copies of this series. 

The following links will take you to my reviews of the previous novels.

#IMWAYR June 8, 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.

This has been a very wet and cool May and June. It's good for working hard at renovations, but not all my garden plants are happy. On top of all that, as a wet west coast gardener, I'm having to adjust to the lower humidity here. Everything needs more watering than I am used to and little seedlings can get dried out very fast! So far I've lost spinach, zucchini, radishes and carrots. Sigh.

I read a lot last week, but a lot of it was online news posts about the protests around the world, police violence, racism here in Canada, what defunding the police would look like, and of course, all the ensuing political machinations.

June is Indigenous History Month here in Canada. You can read about this here. I'm planning on reading primarily indigenous titles this month. If all the books on this list are as good as the ones I've already read, this is sure to be a fabulous place to start. I'm especially looking forward to reading If I Go Missing, a graphic novel by Jonnie Brianna that's on that list.
I've just found this list of books by Indigenous Canadian authors for teens and kids!

I won't be checking in next Monday as we will be in Vancouver visiting our grandchildren for their 3rd birthdays. I'm not sure how it will all work out with social distancing, but it will be fabulous to see our babies no matter what! I can't wait to hold our newest one in my arms. I'm happy to report that big sister and little sister are officially smitten with one another. Her cousin thinks she's pretty special too. 

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.


5 stars

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story about Racial Injustice
by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, Ann Hazzard, Jennifer Zivoin (Illustrator)

This is a powerful and important book that will help parents talk about violence and racism. I 'read' it, by watching the following video.


5 stars
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo & Melania-Luisa Marte (Narrator)

When I first started listening to this I got mixed up about who was who and what was going on. I started it all over, figured it out and was lost in the story.
Wow! What a read!
If I wasn't already an Elizabeth Acevedo fan, I sure would be now. While I appreciate the richness she brings to all her characters, I really came to love these two sisters who don't know that the other exists. At first I expected to hate the father, but he is so brilliantly nuanced that instead I ended up feeling sad for who he was.

4 stars
The Case of the Missing Auntie (A Mighty Muskrats Mystery) by Michael Hutchinson

The second in this series takes the Mighty Muskrats, a team of young indigenous sleuths, into the city. They are staying with their Auntie and cousins and among other things, plan to go to the Exhibition. Otter wants to see his favourite band play and Chickadee wants to track down their grandfather's missing little sister, Charlotte, who disappeared years ago.

The Muskrats discover that the city is very different from the reserve for all kinds of reasons. Racism and different kinds of danger stalk them in the city. A friend who now lives in this urban forest betrays them and they are forced to change their plans.

I especially appreciated Chickadee's persistence and research skills. She just doesn't give up when it comes to helping out her Grandpa. In the process of her research, the Muskrats end up in a center for reconciliation. Readers will learn a lot about residential schools and The Scoops: when governments stole indigenous children from their parents and arranged to have them adopted in white families.

Michael Hutchinson is an Indigenous Canadian.


I'm reading A Short History of Indians In Canada: Stories by Thomas King. I didn't make any progress in A Portrait in Poems: The Storied Life of Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas by Evie Robillard. I'm listening to The Huntress by Kate Quinn.


I'll be reading Northwest Resistance by Katherena Vermette. I hope to get to Crow Winter by Karen McBride, one of the many books downloaded onto my ipad.


Big Books Summer 2020 1/10 one in progress

#MustReadIn2020: 10/25 two in progress

#MustReadNFIn2020: 5/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 11/25 one in progress

100 books by Canadian Authors: 94/100

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 182/333