#IMWAYR June 28, 2021

Hello everyone. 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.

    My apologies for such a long post this week. I've been off galavanting so this is three weeks worth of reading. I guess it's a good thing I was too busy to do much  of it. 
    We were camping the first week. Even though it rained every evening, including a wild electrical storm one night, the days were glorious. Then we headed to the coast where we celebrated my four year old grandkids' birthdays and I had minor surgery. We returned home and my brother and I celebrated our birthdays on Saturday. On Sunday I ate the leftover pavlova for breakfast. 
    Here in Canada the confirmation of over 1000 children's bodies in unmarked graves (and more to come) at numerous church run residential 'schools' is waking many white people up to systemic racism in our country. I'm currently reading Five Little Indians by Michelle Good. It's a profound look at what happened in those places as well as the long term ramifications of these institutions.
    Like everyone else in the western part of North America, we are in the middle of a drought and heat wave. This week promises to be brutal. We are thankful for our air conditioning and books to read. 
    Next week my son and his family are coming to visit so I probably won't manage to get in a post. If I get one written, I won't get around to reading yours until later in the week. 

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. 



There is a good reason that Rocky is such a bad dog. You will have to read this humorous book yourself to figure out why. (Hint: Look closely at the cover)

5 stars

Maud and Grand-Maud
 by Sara O'Leary & Kenard Pak (Illustrator) August 18, 2020 πŸ

This is a charming book about a loving relationship between a grandmother and a grandchild. I was lucky to get to stay overnight with one of my grandmothers on a regular basis and have had the pleasure of my granddaughter staying overnight with me. This book reflects all the love and joy of those times.

4 stars

You Are New
by Lucy Knisley March 12, 2019

This book celebrates all the newness in our lives. It begins at our births, but goes on to include all the times we take on new challenges and learn new things.
I enjoyed the poetry in this one.

4 stars

When I Found Grandma
by Saumiya Balasubramaniam & Qin Leng (Illustrations) March 1, 2019  πŸ

As a grandmother myself, I am a sucker for books about intergenerational relationships. I appreciate that however diverse our cultures, the connection is still the same. This story shows a young girl, Maya, and her grandmother meeting for the first time. Grandma does not fit Maya’s expectations of how a Grandma should be. I appreciate that the two of them gradually bond. I also liked that it was the grandmother who adapted most, but both of them changed.

4 stars

Our Little Kitchen
 by Jillian Tamaki September 22, 2020 πŸ

I loved the energy in this book. It tells of a diverse group of people getting together once a week to feed others in their community. Sometimes food is plentiful. At other times it's scarce and they have to make do with what they can scrounge. It's based on Tamaki's experience volunteering. The rhyming poetry didn't quite work for me.

4 stars

Something's Wrong!: A Bear, a Hare, and Some Underwear
by Jory John & Erin Kraan (Illustrator) March 23, 2021

This is the book to read if you need a laugh. Bear has no idea why people are looking at him funny. Thankfully he has a good friend to help him out.

5 stars

Stand Like a Cedar
 by Nicola I. Campbell & Carrielynn Victor (Illustrations) February 23, 2021 πŸ

This gorgeous picture book celebrates indigenous culture, tradition, and language here in British Columbia. The text is composed of English and different indigenous languages. It’s a book full of environmental awareness and thankfulness. The back matter includes a glossary, a pronunciation guide and an additional note about coastal and interior Salish languages.

This beautifully written and illustrated picture book introduces readers to the Inninwak and other indigenous peoples' understanding of conception and childbearing. “Summer was fading into fall on the day I found out that you had chosen to make my body your first home.”
While carrying her baby, the mother collects gifts for the child’s medicine bundle. Some are from nature while others are made by her. In the end we see that the child is their own kind of medicine for the people around them.

4 stars

Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon
 by Kat Zhang & Charlene Chua (Illustrations) December 15, 2020

This is a charming story that compares Eastern and Western dragons. No matter the variety, inclusivity is the message.

4 stars

The Bruce Swap
 by  Ryan T. Higgins May 4, 2021

Bruce's family and friends secretly long for Bruce to be more cheerful and adventuresome. When fun loving Kevin comes for a visit, Bruce didn't get the letter and is away from home. At first everyone thinks that their wishes have come true. Soon they wish they hadn't.

5 stars

Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know
 by Brittany Luby & Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley (Illustrations) March 1, 2021 πŸ

A grandmother and her granddaughter spend time together in nature. As the year cycles through the seasons, the grandmother teaches her grandchild what to look for during the different parts of the year.
It's written in both Anishinaabemowin and English. Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley's woodland art is the perfect match for Brittany Luby's words.


4 stars

Maryam's Magic: The Story of Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani
 by Megan Reid & Aaliya Jaleel (Illustrations) January 19, 2021

In 2014, Maryam Mirzakhani was the first woman and first Iranian to win the most prestigious award in mathematics, The Fields Medal. She was both an artist and a storyteller who was rewarded because of her magic wand theorem. 


5 stars

The Princess in Black and the Giant Problem
By Shannon Hale, Dean Hale & LeUyen Pham (illustrator) October 6, 2020

I introduced my granddaughter to the Princess in Black by giving this to her for her fourth birthday. We read it four times in five days.We also downloaded the first two books from the library and read those. I'm calling it a success. I also purchased a copy for my grandson, but haven't heard any word on what he thinks. She loved the snow monsters and all the superhero princesses. She liked the giants. "They are so funny!"

4 stars

Trouble with Tattle-Tails
 by Jonathan Auxier & Olga Demidova (Illustrations) May 18, 2021 πŸ

I'm not sure the younger crowd will appreciate all the idioms in this book, but I laughed out loud a number of times.
This is the second in Auxier's Fabled Stables series. When the alarm sounds ,Augie, Willa the Wisp, and Fen, the reluctant Stick in the Mud, head off to the rescue of another magical beast. When the arrive in the village they discover that the citizens have been plagued by literal Tattle-Tails. It's a hilarious challenge to figure out how to get rid of them and find the robbers who have stolen the villagers treasure.

I appreciate how close to the original Anne of Green Gables series these books are. This one made me cringe a bit. I guess they don't really carry over into modern times. You can read my full review, and see more of Abigail Alpin's gorgeous illustrations here


I adored this memoir that highlights the relationship between two siblings. You can read my full review here


4 stars

The Forest of Stolen Girls
 by June Hur & Sue Jean Kim (Narrator) April 20, 2021  πŸ

This mystery, set at the turn of the 14th century in Korea, is the story of two estranged daughters and their detective father.
Thirteen girls have gone missing from a forest on an island. The father disappeared while trying to find out what happened to them. A year later the eldest daughter came to search for him. She reunites with her younger sister who was left behind.
There is much sweetness in this story of two sisters reconnecting. It's also a tense murder mystery full of subterfuge and betrayal.

5 stars

The Black Kids
 by Christina Hammonds Reed August 4, 2020

Set against the backdrop of the Rodney King riots in LA, the story focuses on the life of a privileged black girl. Ashley Bennett is one of a handful of black kids attending a prestigious private school. All of her friends are white. Her older sister has dropped out of college, married a white construction worker, and become a communist.
This complex narrative shows readers that no matter how successful black people become, no matter how much they try to shelter their children, ultimately racism is inescapable.
Reed provides us with a cast of authentic individuals. I really appreciated how rich, complicated and layered all her characters are.
I loved this quote:
"You can’t tell people to pull up on bootstraps when half of them never had any boots to begin with, never even had the chance to get them."

5 stars

The Shape of Thunder
by Jasmine Warga, Reena Dutt (Narrator) & Jennifer Jill Araya (Narrator) May 11, 2021

This is the story two best friends. They have been estranged since Quinn’s brother went on a shooting spree and killed Cora’s older sister.
They come up with a plan to find a wormhole and travel back in time to fix things so that the event never happened. Their magical thinking is jumbled up with the memories of their siblings in those last few days. It takes a near disaster before the two girls manage to come back to each other. My eyes leaked a few times while reading this.

I liked this a lot. It is narrated by Bahni Turpin so you know it is a brilliant audiobook. The tension is high right off the bat and before you know it, you are sucked right into Ophie's story and life. When her father is murdered and their house in Georgia is torched, Ophie and her mother head north to Pittsburgh where they stay with a Great Aunt Rose, and some reprehensible cousins. Ophie has the power to see ghosts. She's lucky that her great aunt has the same power and gives her advice on how to use it to help these specters move along.
Her mother gets a job cleaning at Daffodil Manor. Then a position opens up and Ophie has to leave school and go to work keeping the cantankerous old Mrs Caruthers happy. Daffodil Manor is full of ghosts. Ophie ends up befriending a ghost named Clara. Ophie figures that if she can figure out who murdered Clara, she will be able to help her move on.
At the same time as this is a fascinating paranormal murder mystery, it's also full of historical details that educate the reader about life for Black people in the 1920's.

5 stars

Ways to Make Sunshine
by RenΓ©e Watson & Nina Mata (Illustrator)

I loved this book about a young black chef trying to make sense of her life. RenΓ©e Watson writes powerful full fledged characters. Ryan Hart and her family are some of them. Move over Ramona Quimbly and make room for Ryan Hart in the world of young, female protagonists. 

This modern version of Peter Pan addresses the misogyny and racism of the original version. Two step sisters, one of them Native American, and their four year old brother are tricked into visiting Neverland. They don't realize they can't leave until after they arrive.
What I admired most about this retelling is the richness of characters. I also liked that the ending is ambiguous but hopeful.

I'm working on a longer review of this. In the meantime, what you need to know is that this book is stunning. If you haven't read The Serpent King go find it for a taste of what you have to look forward to. Jeff Zentner writes with exquisite grace and beauty.


Audiobook: Five Little Indians by Michelle Good & Kyla Garcia (Narrator)
Fiction: Thrive by Kenneth Oppel
Nonfiction: Hope Matters: Why Changing the Way We Think Is Critical to Solving the Environmental Crisis by Elin Kelsey


Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids by Cynthia Leitich Smith et al
The Elephant in the Room by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Fred Korematsu Speaks up by Laura Atkins 
North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both by Cea Sunrise Person
Audiobook: War: How Conflict Shaped Us by Margaret MacMillan
I also have a pile of picture books demanding attention


In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

#MustReadIn2021 18/25 

#MustReadNFIn2021 6/12 

#MustReadPBIn2021 35/100 

Big Book Summer Challenge 3 - one in progress

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 20/25 - one in progress

Books by Canadian Authors: 66/100 - three in progress

Canada Reads 2021 4/5 

Discworld Series 41/41

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 235/333 

BAD SISTER by Charise Mericle Harper & Rory Lucey (Illustrations)

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It will be released July 27, 2021 by First Second books.

This graphic memoir is the story of two siblings, an older sister, Charise, and her younger brother, Daniel. The story of their interactions leads Charise into seeing herself as a bad sister. Is she really? What makes a good sister anyway?

A lot of what the two of them get up to are pretty standard fare. As an oldest child, with four younger siblings, I feel like I have an intimate understanding of the power dynamics in their family. It isn't easy to always be the responsible one. Are we eldest predisposed to be somewhat bossy and self absorbed? (When I was four I wondered if I could throw the newest baby - a boy - out the window and say it jumped.) Is it inevitable that we think we are bad sisters? 

Their story begins with pretty ordinary sibling jealousy when Daniel is brought home from the hospital. Charise has some complicated feelings that aren't addressed. There is no time frame mentioned but it feels a lot like the 1970's and 80s. That's the way it was in those days. Growing up the two children have a lot more freedom than children today. They ran wild and were generally unfettered by parent scrutiny unless disaster struck. 

Is Charise really a bad sister? She struggles with prosopagnosia (face blindness) and doesn't seem to get social cues. Does this make her bad? In a series of sections that all start with "The Power of..." we see Charise as someone using different strategies to manipulate and control Daniel. At the same time, she acknowledges that he has his own kind of superpower. He 'gets' people and they in turn adore him. The vignettes in these sections reveal more about the family and sibling dynamics. At times it seems like adults take Daniel's side and don't listen to Charise. Does this make her a bad sister? 

Charise leads Daniel into some creative and dramatic adventures in their search for excitement. It appears that both of them have wild fun together. She often tries to do the right thing, but fails. Their games and activities are complicated by Charise's desire for power, control, and her profound desire to be the winner. Sometimes she ends up being just plain mean. Inevitably Charise is wracked with guilt and remorse. 

When the two of them are playing hockey, Charise becomes exceptionally aggressive and breaks Daniel's teeth. This turns out to be an important turning point for her. She decides to become a 'good sister.' Change, however, isn't easy. It's a good thing that Daniel holds the ultimate super power. His honesty and forgiveness end up helping her become the kind of sister Charise really wants to be. 

I especially like that this graphic memoir portrays an authentic, complicated look at sibling relationships. I appreciated the honesty in it. I like that in the end, it's because of their relationship that both of them can become better people. I'm wondering what Daniel's memoir of their time growing up together would be like. I suspect he saw a lot more good in Charise than she gives herself credit for. 

I predict this is going to be a popular book. Elementary school librarians need to purchase at least two copies. Personally, I would purchase enough for a literature circle set. I would love to listen in on conversations between students discussing the sibling dynamics here. 

Anne's School Days by Kallie George and Abigail Halpin

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. It will be released July 6, 2021 by Tundra Books.

Anne's School Days is the third in Kallie George's illustrated chapter book adaptations of the famous Anne of Green Gables series. I loved the first two for their rich and authentic representation of the original novels. They capture the heart and essence of Anne Shirley and her escapades.

This book deals with Anne's experiences at school. Anne is smart. She enjoys school and spending time with her best friend Diana. Then she meets Gilbert Blythe. Gilbert is a handsome lad who likes to tease the girls and pull their braids. When he calls her Carrots, trouble ensues. "Anne's red hair was her lifelong sorrow." He persists in teasing her until Anne breaks her slate on his head. I appreciate that when Anne gets in trouble, Gilbert tries to take responsibility for his actions. Unfortunately, their teacher, Mr Phillips, only punishes Anne.

Things get worse. After lunch one day, Anne, having wandered among the trees daydreaming, comes into the classroom a bit late. While the boys were also late, she gets punished again by having to sit beside Gilbert.
Anne decides to quit school. Marilla and Matthew, her adopted family, take her side and allow her to stay home. 

Eventually Anne misses her friends and returns to school where she completely ignores Gilbert. Soon enough Anne gets herself into trouble again. While the girls are acting out a poem, Anne pretends to be the heroine. She climbs onto a raft and begins floating down the river. When the raft starts leaking and starts to sink, she ends up rescuing herself by hopping onto a bridge post. She is stranded there until Gilbert finds and rescues her.

Abigail Halpin's illustrations are just gorgeous. Her "illustrations blend traditional and digital media, mixing watercolor, ink, pencil and collage."

I adored the original Anne of Green Gables series and the first books in this adapted series. I've been thinking of gifting it to my oldest granddaughter who will turn four this year. I will definitely get her the first two, but a few things in this one are problematic for me. First, the girls at school accept Gilbert's teasing of them as normal. (Thankfully Anne does not.) Second, while Anne partly saves herself, she ultimately has to be rescued by Gilbert, a boy. I admire Anne's spunk and that she stands up for herself. I'm just not sure if I want to expose my granddaughter to these other messages - at least not quite yet. 

I can't help but wonder how Lucy Maud Montgomery would have portrayed Anne if she was writing today.

Don't miss this or the first two books in this series, Anne Arrives & Anne's Kindred Spirits.

#IMWAYR June 7, 2021

Hello everyone. 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.

On the weekend my partner went on a men's camping trip high up into the mountains. Yesterday and today while I write this, the weather has been so cool I finally gave in and turned the furnace on. They froze up there. 

The good thing about the cool weather is that I managed to get a lot of weeding done in the garden yesterday. Earlier in the week I planted more beets. The first ones I put in disappeared. I am blaming the birds. I'm excited that the new seedlings are poking their little green noses above the ground. 

Before this cool spell, it was so hot I had the air conditioner on. Working outside was impossible so I returned to working on my Olivier Dunrea quilts. I'm finishing up the last of the little creatures. I just need to figure out how to do a couple of butterflies. Then I'll be working on plants. 

Walls have been ripped out and the electrician arrives this week to change some wiring. My guy is building cabinets for our utility room and an island to replace the kitchen wall that's been decimated. 

I will be away camping next week and then away the following week in Vancouver visiting our grandkids for their birthdays. I'll look forward to connecting with you all again at the end of June. You can follow what I'm reading on goodreads

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

Pine Island Home
 by Polly Horvath 

I enjoyed this book. I even shed a tear or so at the end of this.
Four sisters are left orphaned after their parents die in the Tsunami in Thailand. After a year of letter writing, their great aunt in Canada enthusiastically agrees to take them. Unfortunately they arrive only to discover that the aunt died a few days previously. Still the intrepid crew do their best to survive on their own. They arrange for their cantankerous and unreliable neighbour to pretend to be their guardian when necessary.
I ended up liked the four girls and appreciated their individuality. I loved that one of them turns out to be a chef and author. I even ended up liking that irascible neighbour.

This is a profound book for how it looks at multiple levels of racism and bullying. A young American Korean girl learns how to deal with her own bullies after conversations with her grandparents about their experiences living in Korea during the Korean War. She also gets help from friends, a diversity club at school, and a good therapist. I was fascinated by the stories of what it was like to be in Korea during the war.

My brother has been bugging me to read some R.A. Salvatore for ages, so this year I asked him for one recommendation and he gave me this title to add to my #MustReadIn2021 list. I enjoyed it much more than I expected to.
The world building is brilliant. I was totally engaged in the characters. There are a number of plot lines that come together at the end. It is violent - really horrific in places, but it fit the reality of this fictional land.
Aoleyn is one of those fictional characters I came to adore. I want to know how she fares. For her alone I am contemplating reading the next in this series.


After finishing this I sat down with my partner to talk about the successes and failures of the Obama presidency. 
I was mostly fascinated by Michelle Obama's story of growing up and achieving her goals. While her parents might not have been wealthy, they were a loving family who supported their children and let them know that they had high expectations. 
It was interesting to find out that Michelle actually wanted nothing to do with politics. I liked that Barack and her went to couples therapy to learn how to address their differences. 
I will never truly understand how Americans went from the Obamas to the Trumps. 


I have completed the official Discworld novels. I'm a little bit heartbroken, but have discovered that there are many short stories set in that reality. I'm going to be trying to track them down before I say I'm done with this challenge. I've even ordered Nanny Og's cookbook. 

I first listened to this book in 2016 while traveling back and forth to the hospital where my mother was dying. It turned out to be the ideal read. I regularly pulled over to the side of the road to weep.
It deals with death, grief, making amends and continuing on. It begins with the death of the ancient Granny Weatherwax. The young witch, Tiffany Aching is called upon to take over her stead.
I appreciated all kinds of details that I overlooked the first time round. Pratchett both wraps things up and hints at what might happen in the future of the Discworld. He introduces us to Geoffrey, a young man who wants to be a witch. Tiffany hires him to help her out since it's a challenge dealing with Nanny's stead and her own. Geoffrey befriends the retired men and helps them find some purpose and autonomy by introducing them to sheds (man caves.) In the land of fairy, one of the elves, Peaseblossom, usurps the power of Nightshade, the Queen. Her wings are torn off and she is thrown out of the kingdom. Tiffany successfully manages to rehabilitate her. After limited forays into the Discworld, the elves make an attempt to invade and take control of the Discworld. The witches and old men of the community work together to deal with the invasion. Squabbles between different factions of witches are resolved.
Like the other books in the collection, this one is chock full of humour and serious messages about how to live a meaningful life. 
I wrote down this quote the first time round and it has stuck with me. It's a profound reminder of the fragility of life.
"She hadn't seen the old lady in over a week and in a week an old lady could fall through the cracks of life."


Bad Sister Charise Mericle Harper
Ophie's Ghosts by Justina Ireland


In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner
Bad Dog by Mike Boldt
The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed
also a tall pile of picture books


Anne's School Days by Kallie George
Bad Sister by Cherise Mericle Harper

#MustReadIn2021 18/25 

#MustReadNFIn2021 6/12 

#MustReadPBIn2021 33/100 

Big Book Summer Challenge 2

Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 17/25

Books by Canadian Authors: 56/100

Canada Reads 2021 4/5 

Discworld Series 41/41

Goodreads Reading Challenge: 211/333