#IMWAYR March 29, 2021

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.

Today's post is two weeks of reading. 
It's been a time. We rushed around like mad last week to get the house ready for our two sons and oldest grandkids who came for a four night sleepover. I sewed matching outfits for the grandkids and me, but forgot to get a photograph of all of us together. 
I've been going to physiotherapy for my knee and back. I've been stretching, exercising, and starting to take small walks. I've also been eating too much junk food. 
This week I am planning for life to get somewhat back under control. 
I'll probably wait to give up sugar until after April 1, when my husband and I celebrate 44 years of married life. 

Titles with a 🍁 indicate this is a Canadian or Indigenous Canadian Author and or Illustrator. 

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



4 stars

Spring Stinks: A Little Bruce Book
by Ryan T. Higgins January 5, 2021

I read this numerous times with my grandkids while they were visiting. We laughed out loud again and again.

4 stars

by Charlene Chua September 1, 2020 🍁

It turns out that there is such a thing as too many hugs. We liked this one.

My grandkids and I read this one over and over and over. It was such a hit that when they saw the ad on the last page for the next installment, they wanted to read it right away.  Arlo is a cocksure crow who's just moved to the city. Pips is a little yellow bird who shows him around. We loved learning about crows in this delightful graphic novel for younger readers.

I wanted to love this more than I do. I read it with my granddaughter who was very excited to see a book about a girl, just like her, who had eyes that kiss in the corners. We had fun talking about the girl in the book having a little sister too. Maybe it was because other people distracted us, but the book didn't hold her attention to the end. Perhaps the Chinese mythology was alien to her Korean background?
I read it again by myself when she wasn't here. I appreciate the flowery, lovely language, but wonder if it was too much for my granddaughter? I would love to try it again with just her and me.

Having recently read Silent Spring, I read this to learn more about how Rachel Carson became the kind of woman who would initiate an environmental movement. I was fascinated from start to finish. Interestingly, my 3 1/2 year old granddaughter came to sit beside me and wanted me to read it to her. I was sure she would be bored by the text heavy pages, but she stayed with it, even interrupting me to ask questions.

If all you want to know about butterflies is that they are pretty, then don't read this book. If you wonder if you might want to know more, you can read my full review here

Marie-Noëlle Hébert's graphic autobiography addresses her relationship with her body. It's not an easy read. Any woman who has ever dieted and or exercised to try and lose weight, will connect with much, if not all of this book. Read my full review here

I've had this book on my to read list for ages and ages and am only now getting around to reading some of Erdrich's work. I wish I hadn't waited so long. My grandmother's people, the Menominee, are from around the same area. Reading this was like a glimpse into what life might have been like for our ancestors. I'm looking forward to finding out more about Omakayas so I've added the rest of the series to my list.

Tired of his family treating him like a baby, Henry Khoo has a plan. He's going to sneak off and fly solo to Singapore to spend time with his father. Henry's good at keeping secrets. He's been writing a snarky cartoon blog about people at his school. Unfortunately, someone has figured out that he's the creator. 
Before the trip is over Henry does serious soul searching, makes a couple of new friends, learns to stand on his own two feet, and is ready to take responsibility for his actions.

Sunny was born in New York, but now lives in Aba, Nigeria where her parents were from. That she's albino means she can't go out into the sun, can't play soccer, and has to deal with bullying schoolmates. Luckily she has two good friends, Orlu and Chichi. They introduce her to the magical world of the Leopard People. Orlu, Chichi, Sunny and Sasha, another American Black teen, form the youngest ever Oha Coven. They are tasked with tracking down and destroying Black Hat Otokoto, an evil Leopard man who has been kidnapping and killing children in the area.
If I wasn't already a Nnedi Okorafor fan from her Binti series, I sure would be after finishing this.

5 stars

Concrete Rose
 by Angie Thomas & Dion Graham (Narrator) Jan 12, 2021

I pretty much adored this book. Dion Graham's narration was brilliant. If I had access to my copy of The Hate U Give, I'd start it all over again.
It seems inevitable that Maverick Carter will turn out like his father, a gang leader who is in prison for life. Maverick deals drugs to help his mother who works two jobs. Then he discovers that a one night stand has turned him into a father. When the baby's mother leaves the child with him, he has to grow up fast. A supportive neighbour gives him a job working in his store and helping out in his garden so goes straight. Being a parent ends up being the making of him. His older cousin, who's caught up in the gang life, tries to support him emotionally and financially so he doesn't have to be part of it. It's still not easy, and when tragedy strikes, things get a lot worse before they get better. Maverick is tested mightily on his journey into adulthood.


Between Joe Sasakmoose and Willie O’Ree, I’ve learned a lot of hockey history in the last month or so. Willie grew up in a middle class family in New Brunswick. He experienced racism, but it wasn't overwhelming. He played just about every sport he came across but loved baseball and hockey most. Dealing with racism at a baseball camp in the Southern United States made him decide to make hockey his game. He was blinded in one eye early in his career, but kept it a secret and still ended up playing for the NHL. Willie O’Ree now lives in California, but has retained his Canadian citizenship. 

“For the enemy is not Troll, nor it is Dwarf, but it is the baleful, the malign, the cowardly, the vessels of hatred, those who do a bad thing and call it good.”
I appreciated this book much more this time than when I first read it in 2018. Maybe it's because I know the Discworld and all the characters much better. I've come to adore 
Duke Samuel Vimes, Commander of the City Watch, so that might have a lot to do with it. In this book Vimes has to deal with racism between trolls and dwarfs, and vampires and werewolves. When an important Dwarf appears to have been murdered by a troll, Vimes has to solve the case before war breaks out. He also has to be home to read Where's My Cow? to his young son at 6:00 pm exactly.
"If you could go for five minutes, then you'd go to ten, then half an hour, a couple of hours...and not see your son all evening. So that was that. Six o'clock, prompt. Every day. Read to young Sam. No excuses. He'd promised himself that. No excuses. No excuses at all. Once you had a good excuse, you opened the door to bad excuses.”


This is what I currently have on the go:
Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor (audiobook)
A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (a book club title)


My next audiobook will be All Our Relations, Finding the Path Forward by Tanya Talaga.
I'm a week behind on my Netgalley reviews so I plan to read and review Tough Like Mum by Lana Button, The Doll by Nhung N. Tran-Davies, and Rescue at Lake Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson.


#MustReadIn2021 7/25 

#MustReadNFIn2021 2/12 

#MustReadPBIn2021 18/100

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 9/25

Books by Canadian Authors: 27/100

Canada Reads 2021 3/5 

Discworld Series 33/41 

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 113/333 

Butterflies Are Pretty ... Gross! by Rosemary Mosco & Jacob Souva (Illustrations)

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It will be released April 6, 2021 by Tundra Books & Penguin Random House Canada

If all you want to know about butterflies is how beautiful they are, don't bother with this book. 

The interactive style breaks the fourth wall. A narrator warns us not to go on if we don't want to learn just how gross these creatures can be. Butterflies let us know what life is like from their perspective. In the process, this witty, entertaining book is chock full of educational information about butterflies. 

Be brave and turn that first page. 

You will learn that: 

some butterflies eat rotten food 

they taste with their feet

some butterflies are drab while others are loud

they are metamorphic shape shifters

they are tricksters

And that my friends is just the start of what this book will teach you about these fascinating creatures!

A double page spread in the back matter gives additional information about the different species identified in the body of the text. 

Jacob Souva's artwork adds to the hilarity of this resource. He starts his images as sketches and finished them off digitally. 

BTW, this book is kid approved. I was forced to read it to my 3 1/2 year old grandkids numerous times while they visited during spring break. 

My Body in Pieces by Marie-Noëlle Hébert & Shelley Tanaka (Translation)

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It will be released April 1, 2021 by Groundwood Books.

This book chewed me up and spat me out.

I've read it three times and the emotional hit doesn't waver. Large sections of these wordless images highlight pain, anguish and despair. 

Marie-Noëlle Hébert's graphic autobiography addresses her relationship with her body. It's one most, if not all women can connect to. Anyone who has ever dieted and or exercised to try and lose weight, will connect with much, if not all of this book. 

The timeline jumps around from the present to different times in the past. We meet her at twenty, binge eating to shut out the noise of self hatred. It doesn't work. Eventually she reveals how her negative body image evolved over time. 

Hébert was a chubby baby who grew up to be a large sized girl in a world that idolized thin princesses. 

To the clothing industry, children like her don't exist. She loved to dance but had to give it up. When she was eight, her mother purchased women's clothes for her and hemmed them to fit. 

As she grew older she endured bullying by her peers. 

Family dinners, rather than being joyful celebrations, became more bombardment of negative comments. 

By her teens she came to find fault with her body piece by piece. She ended up internalizing the fat shaming.

It isn't that she wasn't healthy. She played soccer and their coach worked them so hard she lost weight. Terrified of gaining the weight back, at the end of the season she joined the school running club. 

Her obsession with dieting, exercising and losing weight wasn't enough to address her need to be seen, to be loved. She writes that she is "fat, but full of nothing."

Coming home from a running marathon, her father called her a Fat Cow. Her response begins with I HATE YOU, but ends up with I HATE ME. He continued to abuse her by calling her fat, and fat ass. 

At the age of 17 she left home. While she revelled in the times spent with friends, she still never felt loved or seen. When her self loathing and depression overwhelmed her, she isolated herself. One friend, Matilda, stayed beside her. When Marie confided her suicidal thoughts to her, Matilda recommended a therapist. 

Slowly she began to heal, to change her self talk, to start to love herself. She eventually became strong enough to confront her father. 

Marie-Noëlle Hébert leaves us with some important messages about how we imprint who we are from what we learn in our families.

"Women pass down their body shame from generation to generation...

Tradition is strong.
The judgement of others.
The lack of self-esteem.
To not be fat forever.

They thought it was more important to teach me how to hold in my stomach than teach me to stand up and be proud of myself."

Thank you so much Marie-Noëlle Hébert for this important book. We need to do better by ourselves and each other so we can do better for our daughters and our sons. 

#IMWAYR March 15, 2021

 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.

Imagine a string of bad words here.

My previously damaged knee has started acting up again. Actually it's now screaming at me to keep off it. I am missing my daily walks, but acknowledge that if I had listened to my body when the trouble started, things would not have gotten to this point. I'm waiting for an appointment with a physiotherapist and hoping to get a proper knee brace so I can resume roaming around the countryside. On a positive note, I got more reading done with my eyes last week. 

The Canada Reads debate was last week. In some years it has seemed like the debate focuses on winning as the most important thing. This year it felt like celebrating the books was primary and winning was of secondary importance. It was a glorious conversation about each of the books. The winner this year is Jonny Appleseed. It's the first time an Indigenous, queer, two spirited author, represented at the debate by another Indigenous queer has ever won. Of the three books I've read, I liked it best. 

Titles with a 🍁 indicate this is a Canadian or Indigenous Canadian Author and or Illustrator. 

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


Call Me Indian: From the Trauma of Residential School to Becoming the NHL's First Treaty Indigenous Player by Fred Sasakamoose


5 stars

The Suitcase
by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

This is an allegory about refugees and how we respond to them. It will wow you. 
A strange creature arrives in the forest with a suitcase. It has gone through a traumatic journey to get here. The other animals are suspicious and don't believe his fantastical story of what's in the suitcase. When the exhausted animal falls asleep, they break it open only to discover that a version of the creature's truth is in there. They discover that this being is not so different from them, and go out of their way to fix what what was broken. This kindness at the end almost made my eyes water.
I only wish more adults would read picture books like this.

Aaron @ Wriggling Bookworms suggested I read this. I'm glad he did.

A ponderosa pine grows into maturity not far from where I grew up and now live. The history of the Syilx, the original people here, unfolds over time as the tree grows and thrives. Each two page spread contains images of the landscape and people with information about the pine and events of the time. It takes us to 2007 with the land recovering from an extensive wildfire. The pine didn't survive that conflagration.
The back matter contains a timeline of events; additional illustrated information about the Syilx people, their experiences with the land and white invaders; the history of the white settlers; a map of the area; an index and a page of acknowledgements.
I appreciated how much I learned about the Syilx population and their relationship to this land and the wild horses that still roam in their territory. (I've seen remnants of them in the country around where I live.) 
Some bits and pieces articulate the stark difference between the Syilx cultural ways of knowing the world and the settler perspective. First, "Overall wealth and economy were based on the health of the surrounding environment. If the land, resources, and water were healthy and all the of the people were being taken care of, then the community was recognized as wealthy. While recognizing the idea of wealth and having possessions, Syilx people considered the greatest wealth to be knowing how to use resources in the most respectful manner." Second, The Syilx called the sacred spirit of Okanagan Lake, nx̌aʔx̌ʔitkʷ. White settlers changed the name to Ogopogo and called it a lake monster.
As a nonfiction picture book this is very text heavy. This makes it a starter book for intermediate and older readers interested in learning more about the area.
My only concern about Growing Up In Wild Horse Canyon, it that it is not an own voices book. I appreciate the researched information and admire how Loraine Kemp's illustrations portray this country that I love. But still, neither the author or the illustrator are Syilx. Before purchasing it for a school library, first I would see if there are books by Sylix authors sharing their perspectives of our shared history. 

It's easy to understand why this won the Caldecott prize this year. It is exquisitely written and illustrated. The relationship between the two is seamless. My wish for this book is that it motivates all of us to become water protectors.

5 stars

Beatrix Potter's Countryside
by Linda Elovitz Marshall & Ilaria Urbinati (Illustrations)

This book gave me all the feels.
I kept wondering if I had read it before since so much of it felt familiar. Then I realised it was from watching the Miss Potter movie. (I don't think I finished it, but I might now.)
Reading this I learned how Potter, who grew up in a traditional household, overcame the restrictions of her time: initially by self publishing her first books and taking control of her own copyright, and second, by purchasing land by herself. Seeing that the pastoral landscape of the lakes district was in danger of industrial development, she continued purchasing farms all around her. Upon her death, she bestowed it to a land trust.
I appreciate how she was able to use her own privilege and money to make life better for ordinary people in her community.

5 stars

I Talk Like a River
by Jordan Scott & Sydney Smith (Contributor) 🍁

I now understand why this book won the Schneider Family Book Award. Sydney Smith's art is the ultimate compliment to Jordan Scott's words. In my teaching career I only had one student who stuttered. He also had Tourette's syndrome. I wish this book had been around then. It is a mirror that let me know what it is like to deal with disfluency. I could feel my mouth trying to get those P, C and M sounds out.
Both of the creators of this beautiful book are Canadian.  

This is an essential book. That it's beautifully written and illustrated serves to underscore the unspeakable horror of the event. In 1921 a white mob attacked and destroyed the thriving black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This picture book is an important introduction to this episode in history and a lead in to doing more research.


Beetle and Kat were once best friends. Then Kat went away to witch school and seemed to forget Beetle. Meanwhile Beetle has been learning goblin magic from her aunt and hanging out with Blob Ghost who is tethered to a local mall. Kat is apprenticed to learn magic with her Aunt Hollowbone. They return home because her aunt wants to tear down the mall and rebuild her family's estate on the land.
This is a coming of age book. It's about friendship and finding your own magic.
While I liked the story line, I had a hard time with the art in this one. It felt too busy and I was challenged to make sense of what was going on.
The Mighty Muskrats are on the case again! A memory bundle goes missing during The National Assembly of Cree Peoples being held at the fictional Windy Lake First Nation. The four cousins, Chickadee, Atim, Otter, and Sam, work with their Uncle Levi, the local band constable, to rescue it before the assembly is over. To find out  more about why I love this series, go and read my full review here

5 stars

The Sea in Winter
by Christine Day & Kimberly Woods (Narrator)

Maisie Cannon's sanctuary is  the ballet studio. Unfortunately, she damaged her knee in a fall, and is unable to dance. Her grief and loss interfere with her academic success. Her knee might be improving, but she's not able to dance yet. The pain continues, but she ignores it. On a hiking vacation with her family she damages it again. Recovery is harder as she comes to understand that she might never dance again.
Maisie has a loving supportive family even if they don't quite understand what she is going through at first. When they do, they ensure she gets the emotional support she needs. Her little brother is adorable and the relationship between the siblings is tender and sweet. I appreciated the integration of Makah culture into the book. I remember the furor around the resuming of traditional whaling.
A few days before reading this book my previously damaged knee began screaming at me. As I read about Maisie's pain, I was right there with her.
Christine Day sure can write.  


I took my time with these poems, letting them sit with me before going on to another. They are not comfortable to read. Each one speaks to experiences I have been privileged not to have to endure. In my career I taught children like Joshua and had hints of this life. I wish I had read his poems about life and school then. 
Joshua Jordan spent his early years in and out of foster homes. Terrible things happened to him there. When he was twelve, he woke up one morning and his mother was dead. More tragedy ensued before he ended up living with a woman who became his new mother and is helping him heal. Love, fear, and grief are constant themes in this collection of poetry that he wrote these he was only sixteen! Joshua Jordan is an indigenous author to keep your eye on.


I had a bit of a difficult time getting into this. I listened to it read by author, but she was not the problem. It might be that I was listening while I was out walking and was experiencing knee pain. It was also difficult to take in her rich descriptive passages of a rainforest I've never been too, while roaming around in a semi desert land.
When the narrative focused more on her family and their history in China and Taiwan, I became hooked. By the end I was loving her integration of family history and their environment.

3.5 stars

by Glennon Doyle

A friend recommended this book to me. There are parts that didn't work for me, but I hope that now that I am nearing 70, I can acknowledge that different people come to being the best person they can be in their own way. This is the first Glennon Doyle book I've read. I appreciate her honesty. I like that she makes mistakes, acknowledges them, and tries to do better.
I hope that white women will learn from the debacle she writes about with respect to her attempt to teach other white women about their own racism. The book, Your Brain on Stereotypes, explains research looking at the difference between what we know is right and our actual behaviour. We know we shouldn't be racist, so we assert we're not, but mostly our actions show that we are. All we can do is acknowledge this, learn more, support BIPOC women emotionally and financially, and do our utmost to be better allies.
There are a few flippant moments here, like when she claims to have let her third child raise herself with an ipad. I assumed that was a kind of metaphor for doing much more hands off parenting. While it wasn't the smartest remark, I think anyone with more than one kid lets go of control. Parenting is the hardest work we do. Nobody gets it right all the time. I appreciated her models for when it does.
I've read negative comments about the religious aspects to this work. I left the Catholic church in my teens when I discovered feminism. Just about everyone I still know who stayed, has transformed their idea of 'godness'. It seems like this is what has happened to Doyle. I wish her well but won't read more. 


This is one of the Discworld books I know I will be reading again. Moist Van Lipwig is a conman who has been rescued from hanging by Lord Vetinari, ruler of Ankh-Morpork. All Moist has to do is take over and get the abandoned post office running again. In this case, Moist learns to use his talent as a conman to out con the most nefarious capitalist in the city and ends up in love with a golem rights activist.
I love that this book illuminates and pokes fun at the evils and ridiculousness of neoliberal capitalism and the Ayn Rand books.


This is what I currently have on the go:
My Body in Pieces by Marie-Noëlle Hébert (from Netgalley)
Willie: The Game-Changing Story of the NHL's First Black Player by Willie O'Ree
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich


I plan to get to the last half the picture books piling up. I will
 read and review a NetGalley title, Butterflies Are Pretty ... Gross! by Rosemary Mosco.  I'll start listening to Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor.  I hope one of the audiobook Discworld titles I have on hold become available. 


#MustReadIn2021 6/25 

#MustReadNFIn2021 2/12 

#MustReadPBIn2021 17/100

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors

Books by Canadian Authors: 24/100

Canada Reads 2021 3/5 

Discworld Series 32/41 

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 100/333 

The Case of the Burgled Bundle: A Mighty Muskrats Mystery by Michael Hutchinson

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It will be released April 6, 2021, by Second Story Press.

Like the first two of Michael Hutchinson's (Misipawistik Cree) Mighty Muskrat series, this mystery integrates Cree ways of knowing the world into a modern day mystery novel. Each of the books so far has introduced readers to different aspects of Indigenous life and culture. They are a fascinating mirror for Indigenous readers, and a window for the rest of us.

This tale is set at The National Assembly of Cree Peoples being held at the fictional Windy Lake First Nation, home to the Mighty Muskrats.

The Mighty Muskrats include cousins Chickadee, Atim, Otter, and Sam. Their home base is hidden deep within an old junkyard. Chickadee and Otter live on the reserve. Atim and Sam, two brothers, live in the city away from their family and traditions. They end up making cultural mistakes, but it's obvious that this doesn't mean they are not part of the people. Over time, they will learn. I appreciate the role of Sam, who can't help but ask questions. It's through the answers that outsiders like me come to understand more about the culture. We learn together.

I love that the book educates as it entertains. It clarifies what it means to be Indigenous or Metis, with Grandpa explaining: "A little bit of Indian blood in you does not a nation make. The Metis are a nation. That's what's Indigenous to Canada... that nation and culture."

Readers will learn about treaties signed between Indigenous nations and Canada. It shows the importance of ceremony in the Cree culture and highlights the significance of memory bundles. A bundle contains objects that represent the oral histories of the group. A treaty bundle includes the Indigenous perspective of the treaty or treaties signed with another nation. It could be another Indigenous nation or Canada. Being the keeper of the bundle is a sacred trust. "Keepers don't own the stories, but they must steward them through history. Tell them in the same way each time, so the next generation can be given that memory. Undamaged. Unforgotten."

During a ceremony, the cousins' grandfather makes a comment that offends another elder. To resolve the issue Grandpa contacts Leon Shining Deer and his wife, the keepers of the Treaty 12 bundle. It is a bundle known to create unity, so they ask him to come share the bundle to help reconcile the conflict.

When the bundle goes missing it's a huge deal. The nearby RCMP won't even bother with it, but the children's Uncle Levi, the local band constable, begins to investigate the crime. Of course the Mighty Muskrats are there to help out. There is no shortage of suspects.

Part of what I admire about this series is that characters are complicated. Bullies are shown to have pain of their own. Mending relationships and healing are possible. I appreciate that the book shows a collaborative community. While they are helping solve the crime, the Muskrats help set up the local gym to feed the guests at the assembly and work with elders in all kinds of ways.

This mystery series takes me back to my youth. I was a hard core fan of Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton, Trixie Belden & The Hardy Boys. 

These are even better.

Call Me Indian: From the Trauma of Residential School to Becoming the NHL's First Treaty Indigenous Player by Fred Sasakamoose

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It will be released 18, May 2021, by Viking - Penguin Random House Canada.

Fred Sasakamoose begins his biography with the story of his ancestors who lived on the land before first contact. He tells of how their leader, Ahtahkakoop, was manipulated into signing treaties that were never kept. In many ways this pattern of lies and deceit is not a new story, but Sasakamoose makes it personal as he leads into how his family ended up on the small reserve of Sandy Lake. 

Growing up, his mother was in charge of the family much of the time because his father was away logging or trapping to make a living. Fred was one of eleven children but only five survived due to smallpox. Their lives were constricted and limited by the local White Indian Agent and federal laws. 

"we were poor, that's the truth, But I didn't know that.
What I knew what that home was full of song, dance and tradition. It was full of wonder and mystery. It was full of family, love and community."

When his Moosum, Alexan (grandfather) came to stay with them, they became close. Alexan got Sasakamoose his first pair of skates and introduced him to the game. He learned to skate on a frozen lake. Alexan carved him a stick. He used it with a frozen cow patty as a puck. 

In 1941, when he was almost seven years old, he was taken from his parents and sent to residential school. St Michaels was more of a work colony than a school. He endured terrible abuses by priests and older boys. One of the priests, Father Roussel, was a hockey fanatic and organized the boys into a team. Sasakamoose may have developed as a hockey player there, but he left scarred. The only real victory at that institution was surviving. 

He barely returned home when he was visited by Father Roussel and George Vogan who wanted him to come and play hockey for the Moose Jaw Canucks in the Western Canadian Junior Hockey League. His mother encouraged him to go. In Moose Jaw he lived with George and his supportive family for three years. George became his father away from home. While he worked and played hockey, he improved, build skills and developed confidence. Throughout it all he had to deal with the racism of a few teammates and the team's fans. 

He was called up to play with the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1953-54 season. He was the first Treaty Indigenous player in professional hockey. He played against legends like Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, and Maurice Richard. Up until that year, he never drank. He acquired a taste for alcohol while partying with his teammates. The following summer he drank too much and got out of shape. The next year he was cut from the team. Over the next couple of years he played hockey for  the New Westminster Royals, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, and the Calgary Stampeders. During those years he met and married Loretta Isbister. Having no idea if he would ever play for Chicago again, and tired of being homesick, he decided to quit hockey and go home. 

He might have given up on hockey, but it hadn't given up on him. 

The owner of the Kamloops Chiefs tracked him down. He wanted Sasakamoose on his team. It was an amateur league, but it payed decent money so he and Loretta moved there. Fred went on to play with a senior league, the Saskatoon Quakers later on. For the next decade or so he continued to play on local teams during the winter to make extra cash for Loretta and his growing family. 

In those years after the NHL, Fred contributed to his community in numerous ways. He became a band councillor and chief. He worked hard to support indigenous hockey teams in Northern Saskatchewan and develop minor hockey and other sports programs across the province. Through it all he endured hardship, tragedy and joy. He spoke with numerous groups of children and adults about his life in hopes that it would help them lead healthy lives and not make the same mistakes he had made. When drugs made their way to their reserve, he worked collaboratively with the band as well as personally to provide a safe place for addicted individuals. 

Fred Sasakamoose won many awards. He was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Native Hockey Hall of Fame. He received National Aboriginal Achievement and  Saskatchewan Indian Nations Circle of Honor Awards. He accepted a Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012. An honorary diploma was bestowed on him from Saskatchewan Polytechnic. The University of Saskatchewan gave him an honorary doctorate of law. His greatest honor was in 2018 when he received the Order of Canada. Indigenous hockey players still experience racism, but Fred blazed a trail for them by supporting their development and showing them that they could still overcome these obstacles and make their way into the big league. 

People write about Fred being an extraordinary story teller, and it shines through in this book. I'm not at all a sports or hockey fan, but his story drew me in and wouldn't let go. At the same time as it is his personal narrative, it's also the story of Indigenous people across the country. The ramifications of anti-Indigenous laws and racist attitudes of those in power are shown at both the intimate and collective levels. 

It's a testimony to how personable the writing is that I wept upon discovering that Sasakamoose died last November of Covid complications. He was 86. He is deeply mourned by those who knew him. Fred was one of those who truly left the world a better place than he found it. 

Enjoy this video from https://www.sportsnet.ca/. 

#IMWAYR March 8, 2021

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.

Happy International Women's Day Everyone! If you are looking for a strong, YA female literary character to celebrate the day/week, I highly recommend the Binti series by Nnedi Okorafor. You can read about them below. 

The Canada Reads Debate begins today and I have read only two of this year's finalists. (I have read more of the long list though.) I will eventually get to them all, just not in time to agree or disagree with the winner. The two I finished are brilliant. 

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

See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog
by David LaRochelle & Mike Wohnoutka (Illustrator)

Quality books for beginning readers are hard to find. They are probably harder to write. Mo Willems hits the sweet spot with his Elephant and Piggie series. See the Cat is an another excellent example of what we hope to find. it’s sweet, funny and clever at the same time. This dog is a character you want to see/read more of.

Did you know that before her work is done, a honeybee will have visited thirty thousand flowers and collected enough nectar to make one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey?
With these jaw dropping, illustrations, you will want to pore over this book again and again. It takes the reader through the life cycle of one Apis Mellifera. Readers learn about the different jobs a worker bee engages in before and after she heads off in search of nectar, water, plant sap or pollen. Fleming builds suspense as she marks each stage in her nonfiction poem with a refrain of Flying? Not yet...  
I really appreciated the extra information in the back matter. It includes a labeled diagram of a bee with extensive details about each part.  Additional information includes a section on how to support honeybees and a list of more facts about these important creatures. A bibliography with internet links and print resources finishes this section off. While neither the author or illustrator are Canadian, Dr. Mark I. Winston, the world's leading expert on bees, who they worked with them on this project, is. 

I wanted to love this more than I did. Aggie, her best friend, Hector Porot, and Grannie Jane, head off to the country to spend Christmas with her older sister, Marjorie and her new husband, James. She is happy to be reunited with Lucy, James' niece. Two other guests arrive to spend the season with them. It looks to be a festive season with an acting troupe pulling together servants and family for a tableaux performance on Christmas Eve. The next morning the three children discover a dead body in the library. The police are called in but the trio do what they can to figure out who the murderer is.
I enjoyed this a lot but wish it was not so long. I worry that while older readers like myself will be undaunted, I'm not so sure about the target audience.

I loved this book. I know it's a trite way to begin a review, but honestly, this is a fascinating look at people working for super villains. Anna is a data analyst who ends up employed by them because it's the only job she can get. When she ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, a superhero nearly kills her when he throws her against a wall. (She was the token female at a news conference where one of the villains threatened to have the kidnapped mayor's son cut off his own fingers if he didn't get a ransom. It was terrifying.) As she recovers she starts collecting data and realizes that it's actually the superheros, not the villains, who create the most damage and kill the most people. It's all about how it's marketed.
She starts blogging about her findings and ends up head hunted by the most powerful super villain of all. Eventually she ends up in charge of her own department where data collection and analysis is used to create plans to takedown superheros. Unfortunately her boss doesn't have her patience for playing the long game.
I appreciated so much about this book. Anna is not really a sympathetic character, but that didn't stop me from wanting to know how her life might turn out. That she's bisexual adds all kinds of nuances to her relationships. In spite of this, there isn't really sexual content. One relationship that barely gets started ends up in a hilarious disaster. There is some suggestion of a romance between Anna and her boss, but really, this book focuses more on friendships and the role media coverage and marketing manipulate how we see the world. 
This is one of the Canada Reads books. I love that the titles on the list are often ones I wouldn't pick for myself. This is one of those. 

4 stars

 (Binti 2) by Nnedi Okorafor & Robin Miles (Narrator)

I'm having a hard time separating out what happened in the last two novels in this trilogy because I listened to them back to back. Binti and Okwu, her Meduse friend, return home to earth. Okwu comes in peace as an ambassador. Binti hopes to go on her coming of age pilgrimage, but on the eve of her leaving is taken into the desert by her father's people. One day turns into many as she is initiated into new ways of communicating with the world. While she is away she learns that Okwu and her family have been attacked the Khoush, ancient enemies of the Meduse. It is not known if there are any survivors.

Binti and her new friend, Mwinyi, travel from her desert family back to Binti's Himba family. They arrive to discover they have been murdered by the Khoush and her friend Okwu is missing. The Khoush are patrolling the area searching for him and Binti. Okwu and an army of Meduse are hiding in the lake. In spite of her loss, Binti arranges to meet with the Himba elders to set up a meeting to bring peace to all sides. Even though they betray her by not showing up at the rendezvous, she attempts negotiating with leaders of both armies to try and broker a peace between them. It ends up in disaster, but it's not the end of the book.

The Binti series chronicles a young girl's journey from a small African village in Namibia to a prestigious galactic university, her return home again, and a final departure. It's a metaphor for how we are transformed as we leave home, interact with others, learn and grow. It's about figuring out our identity as we change with each new being we meet and connect to. In the end it's about discovering home inside ourselves.

I'm so excited by Okorafor's writing, I've put a hold on Akata Witch.

I can't believe I didn't finish even one Discworld novel this week!


Fred Sasakamoose overcame almost overwhelming obstacles to play hockey for the Chicago Blackhawks in 1954. Even when his time there was over, hockey continued to play an important role throughout the rest of his life. He went on to make huge contributions to his community, the province of Saskatchewan, and Canada. I am not a sports fan, but Sasakamoose is such a gifted storyteller, that his narrative drew me in and wouldn't let go.
I'm working on a detailed review that I'll post closer to the publishing date of May 18. I wish my father-in-law was still alive so I could preorder it for him. He was a hockey fanatic who played the game well into his late 70's. 
It's a testimony to how personable the writing it, that I wept when, after reading the book, I discovered that Sasakamoose died last November of Covid complications. He was one of those who truly left the world a better place than he found it.


The nonfiction title I have on the go is The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. I'm almost finished listening to Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. I might read it again as soon as it's done. I'm also listening to Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez. I've started Beetle & the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne. I'm making my way through Shopping Cart Boy: Poems of My Life by Joshua Jordan G.H. He was sixteen when he wrote them. They are an emotionally hard read. 


I plan to read and review a netgalley title, The Case of the Burgled Bundle by Michael Hutchinson. A pile of picture books is waiting for me so I'll try and get to those. I also have a lot of audiobooks lined up. Why oh why does everything come available from the library at the same time?


#MustReadIn2021 5/25 

#MustReadNFIn2021 2/12 one in progress

#MustReadPBIn2021 15/100

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors: 7/25 one in progress

Books by Canadian Authors: 21/100

Canada Reads 2021 2/5 

Discworld Series 31/41 

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 87/333