Willa the Wisp (The Fabled Stables #1) by Jonathan Auxier & Olga Demidova (Illustrations)

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It was released October 20, 2020, by Penguin Random House Canada.

Don't miss this entertaining treat for chapter book readers! 

It's a little bit creepy, a little bit fanciful and a whole lotta delightful. 


And at the heart of that island lived a boy named Auggie. "    

On this island are the Fabled Stables. They look small from the outside, but inside they are magically massive enough to be home to one of a kind magical beings. 

Auggie, a young boy with the ability to talk to animals, is their caretaker. 

Unfortunately he's the only boy on the island and lonely. He may or may not be friends with Fen, a cantankerous 'stick in the mud" who transforms into any shape Auggie needs while caring for the stables. All to often this means turning into a shovel to dig out the muck a stable inevitably acquires. The only other people on the island are Miss Bundt, who, based on her many tattoos, may or may not have been a pirate in a previous career. Her job now seems to be to make things for Professor Cake, an old, clever collector and owner of the island. 

One morning the earth shakes. When Auggie rushes to the stables he discovers a new stall. The back of it opens into a swamp where, unbeknownst by him, far away, some hunters are chasing down a magical creature. 

Auggie, wrapped in a bit of Gargantula's web so he doesn't get lost, heads off in search of the new creature. Willa the Wisp, seems to be a bunny like creature with floppy ears, fluffy tail, horns and wings. She has the capacity to transform herself into whatever shape she wants. 

Things seem dire when Auggie and Willa end up trapped in a net by the nefarious hunters. 

I adored so much about this book. Jonathan Auxier's writing is whimsical and fun. I've read this three times and each time I am more enchanted. My NetGalley copy included unfinished artwork by Olga Demidova, a Russian illustrator now living in the USA. She creates exquisite art using photoshop. I found some of the finished work I shared here on her instagram site

In his introductory note, the author writes, 

The Fabled Stables is meant to be read aloud. As a parent I've struggle to find read-alouds that strike a balance between the interests and attention spans of my differently aged kids. I wanted to create a series that combined the more complex plotting and language of chapter books with the illustration-every-page excitement of picture books. Truly, this is a series meant for readers of all ages." 

Thank you Jonathan Auxier for your brilliantly executed vision.  

I've already ordered a couple of copies of this for two of my grandchildren. (I might even have to purchase a copy for myself for when they come to visit) 

I'm excitedly looking forward to the next in the series. 

For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World by Michael W. Waters & Keisha Morris (Illustrations)

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It was released 22 Sep 2020, by Flyaway Books. 

 This book introduces us to a loving family. The story begins as Jeremiah, the young boy, asks his parents if he can grow locs. They agree and as the story, and time, passes, so does his hair. 

Over this span of time, the family’s news feed is too often filled with the deaths of different black boys. At one point the family is forced to shelter in their hallway because of gunfire in the street. With each death, Jeremiah asks questions his parents try to answer. Each one of these sections includes, “It doesn’t make sense,” and ends with a similar refrain, “But Jeremiah didn’t want to talk anymore.” 

 The parents are activists working to draw attention to these miscarriages of justice and to make change. Jeremiah worries about them. 

While this family might be fictional, the murdered youths are very real: Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, the Charleston Nine, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Jordan Edwards. All deaths, even those of five Dallas police officers are condemned. 

While this is a story of violence against black boys, it’s also about what to do to change it. Eventually, when Jeremiah’s locs are fully grown, he is ready to talk. He comes to his parents stating, “I’m tired of people hurting each other! I’m tired of people shooting each other! I’m tired of people killing each other! I’m tired of people hating each other just because they are different or because of the color of their skin!” His parents echo his feelings. What follows is a collection of actions for what the family does to enact change. 

Keisha Morris’ illustrations are flat out gorgeous. Michael W. Waters prose is profound. It's important that this book shows the impact of violence against black boys on other black boys. It's equally important that it directs readers towards changing the racist system. 

In the author’s note, Michael Waters explains his motivation for writing this book. The back matter also includes a discussion guide with specific categories: Preparing Yourself for the conversations, Establishing a Safe Space, Speaking about Race in the Classroom, Speaking About Violence in the Classroom, Exploring Change-Making and Discussing This Book At Home.

Highly Recommended. 

Saturday at the Garage by Nancy Hundal & Angela Pan (Illustrations)

If you are searching for descriptive language as mentor text, look no further. I've read this at least three times and each go round I find more of Nancy Hundal's lines and phrases to swoon over. Add to this the glorious artwork by Angela Pan. She captures light and sets it to illuminating the pages. Put it all together and this picture book welcomes us into enchantment. 

Be prepared for a gentle transport into a past era. The creators take the reader into a time and place when technology and life was simpler. The tale is based on Hundal’s memories of working with her father in their family garage. Older readers like myself will remember garages like this one here. 

The young girl with her bouncy ponytail reminds me of Nancy. I confess to calling her friend. This might mean my review is a wee bit biased, although honestly, I can't remember when I last read such beautifully lyrical text.  

Each Saturday, from dawn to dusk, a young girl spends the day working with her father. Gradually he teaches her what she will need to know should she decide to take the garage on. Love illuminates this portrayal of father daughter relationship. 

The girl learns much by working with her dad. She is able to work the till, make change, pump gas, identify different tools, and keep them in order. Working with the different customers she learns kindness, patience, courtesy and humour. 

Early in the day, Gordie, one of the regulars, brings her candy, and suggests there is an elf in the garage. As she goes about her duties, she is on the lookout for it. But at the end of the day she acknowledges, “the only magic at this garage is my dad’s fingers tinkering engines back to purring.” 

Then, “when the sun has slid all the way from the top of the sky to the edge of world, it’s time to go’” As they prepare to leave for the day, the girl imagines that someday, her hands will look like her father’s.

Saturday at the Garage was published by Midtown Press on February 18, 2020. You can find more books by Nancy Hundal here. To learn more about Angela Pan, go here

IMWAYR October 19, 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 am busy quilting and knitting like crazy these days (as well as helping out with renovations and taking care of the house while my partner does the majority of the reno work) Finding time to sit and just read with my eyes is hard. 

A while ago, through IMWAYR, someone recommended I listen to Terry Pratchett: BBC Radio Drama Collection. I found it, downloaded it, and was delighted. It introduced me to novels from the Discworld series that I haven't read so I decided to delve into the whole collection. I'm listening to as many of them as I can while working on my many projects. 

Today's post is three weeks of reading. 

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

Dragon Hoops
by Gene Luen Yang 

Yup, this is as good as everyone says it is. I love so much about this book: the focus on individual team members, the way Yang puts himself into the narrative, the backstories of the characters, and the history of the game across different cultures. I wish there had been some mention that James Naismith, the creator of the game, was Canadian. What jumped out at me was the difference between public schools here in Canada and the Catholic private school in the story. Maybe it's just the difference between the focus on funding athletic programs in general between our two countries.

4 stars

All Together Now
(Eagle Rock #2) by Hope Larson 

I enjoyed this. I read a number of negative reviews so I was a bit worried going into this. I mean, I just adored All Summer Long and was worried this wouldn't work as well. Thankfully it did. I ended up loving Brina even more than I did before. This girl has ethics and class. She takes the high road after her new best friend betrays her. I especially appreciated her mixed feelings about the possible romance with her next door neighbour, best friend, who happens to be a guy. (Having eventually married the guy who was one of my best friends and gone through an awkward time, I can attest that this is pretty realistic.) I'm looking forward to where Hope Larson takes us next in this series.

Toxic relationships exist no matter your sexual orientation. Getting out of them isn't easy. In this book, Freddy has to figure out what she gets out of her relationship with Laura Dean and what she gives up. 
I love, love, love Mariko Tamaki's art! It's so easy for the reader to see what's going on before Freddy does.


3.5 stars

10 Things I Hate About Pinky
 by Sandhya Menon

I thought I wrote a review for this when I finished it, but apparently, wrote in only in my head, or on a scrap of paper somewhere.

I didn't enjoy this as much as the other Dimple novels, but it was ok. It reminded me of a harlequin novel with the trope of fake boyfriend and couple who can't stand each other. I admit that by the end I did end up enjoying it.

4 stars

Indian No More
by Charlene Willing McManis & Traci Sorell  

Based on the author's experience, this story tells the tale of a fictional family from the Umpqua people. The federal government terminated their status in the 1950's. Regina and her family ended up moving to LA where her father went back to school and ended up getting a good paying job. In many ways they became 'American.' They soon discovered that to the rest of the nation they would always be 'Indian,' and not good enough.

My grandmother's people, the Menominee, were also terminated in 1954 (although by then she was living in Canada with my grandfather who was not indigenous.) Her nation's status was restored in 1973. The Umpqua did not get their status restored until the 1980's.

Here in Canada an attempt was made in 1969 to dissolve the Indian Act and terminate all Indigenous treaties and status. Thankfully it was quashed before becoming law.

Prior to that and for many years following, if a man married a non Indigenous women, his wife and their children acquired status. Preversley, if a woman married a non indigenous man, she, and all her children, lost their status. It wasn't until 2019 that this was fully rectified.

4 stars

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
(The Wingfeather Saga #1) by Andrew Peterson & Peter Sandon (Narrator)

I was delighted by this fantasy novel about a group of children who live with their Mother and Grandfather in a land overrun by Goblin like creatures. (The beginning of it reminded me of a Pratchett novel.) When they come under the scrutiny of the evil creatures at the Dragon Festival, their lives take a terrible turn for the worse. They can't understand why the adults in the family don't just turn the family treasure over to the nasty monsters so they can get on with their lives.

I listened to this, and if my library had only had the second as an audiobook, I would have jumped right into the sequel.

4 stars

We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly & Ramon de Ocampo (Narrator)

This book haunted me while I listened to it. It haunted me when I was doing other stuff and not listening to it. It continued haunting me for a while after finishing it. 

Erin Entrada Kelly highlights a dysfunctional family. The three children are struggling to make sense of who they are and what kind of people they want to become. This happens in the context of fighting parents. Many years ago when I was a university student, I learned that a sign of a family that functions well is that they eat meals together. The family here does not. It's such a simple thing that shows how fragmented and alone they all are. 

All this is set against the backdrop of the launch of the Challenger space shuttle. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I was still caught up in Bird's excitement around it.

I ended up weeping buckets. 

I loved that the children managed to come together at the end of the novel and it ends with hope for all of their futures.


3.5 stars

The Colour of Magic
(Discworld #1) by Terry Pratchett & Nigel Planer (Narrator)

This was was my introduction to Rincewind. It started out slow, but eventually I was fully engaged in the adventures. I enjoyed Pratchett's wicked sense of humour and the way he pokes fun at the real world. The Luggage is probably my favourite magical object/character in all the fantasy I've read. 

Rincewind, an incompetent wizard, is perhaps the least expected character to save the Discworld. Terry Pratchett's world building continues to awe me in this second novel in the series. Nigel Planer's narration is brilliant.

Pratchett's Witches series (including the Tiffany Aching ones) are my favourites. This is a reread for me. It is our introduction to the world of witches within the Discworld. Satire and parody are words thrown around when talking about Pratchett's work. This is some of the finest poking fun at misogyny around. It begins with an aging magician transferring his magic to a babe he and his father assume is the eighth son of an eighth son. By the time they realize their mistake, it's too late and all that power has been transferred to Esk, a baby girl. Granny Weatherwax makes her entrance into the series. The powerful woman she will become is hinted at here.
I loved Celia Imrie's narration.

We are introduced to Death in the earlier novels, but in this one, he comes into his own. Death sets out to hire an apprentice on account of having an adopted teenage daughter who's future he needs to see to. Mort becomes his apprentice because no one else wanted him. When Death lets Mort  handle a few reapings on his own, he ends up screwing it all up. Meanwhile, Death is too busy experiencing life to pay attention to what is happening.


I'm listening to Internment by Samira Ahmed and Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett. With my eyes I'm reading War Stories by Gordon Korman. I'm reading and writing a post about Saturday at the Garage by Nancy Hundal. 


I'm hoping to get to Sourcery by Terry Pratchett, but none of my libraries has it as an audiobook. Hopefully I will take a break from sewing and knitting to read the pile of books I have checked out from the library. Waiting for First Light by Roméo Dallaire, one of my #MustRead titles is there so I will make a concerted effort to get to it. 


#MustReadIn2020: 20/25 

#MustReadNFIn2020: 9/12 

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 21/25

Books by Canadian Authors: 110/100 one in progress

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 276/333