Sibling Shenanigans by Marjorie Cripps, illustrated by Val Lawton Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $12.95 ISBN 9-781927-75706 I can’t imagine a better title for first-time author Marjorie Cripps’ collection of stories for young readers than what she’s chosen, Sibling Shenanigans. This fun and ably-written series of short tales features likeable siblings Amanda and Mitchell, who get alon...

Launch Lead Live by Dr. Dawn-Marie Turner Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Leslie Vermeer $24.95 978-1-927756-47-8 Maybe you’re an employee who’s been accused of resisting organizational change—let’s face it: many of us have been. Or maybe you’re a business executive who believes most employees actively resist organizational change. Whatever your role in your organization, whatever business or service you’re in, in her new...

My Good Friend, Grandpa Story by Elaine Sharfe, Illustrations by Karen Sim Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $9.95 ISBN 9-781927-756713 You don’t have to be a grandparent to appreciate Saskatoon writer Elaine Sharfe’s illustrated children’s book, My Good Friend, Grandpa. Indeed, anyone with a heart will adore this beautifully-rendered tale about a boy’s strong connection with his b...

Goodbye Stress, Hello Life! by Allan Kehler Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Leslie Vermeer $15.95 978-1-927756-53-9 Allan Kehler wants you to find your joy. At a more down-to-earth level Kehler — a Saskatoon-based counsellor and speaker — wants to help people manage their stress. But more than that, he wants us to start really living. To that end, his timely new book Goodbye Stress, Hello Life! succeeds in deliverin...

The Sixth Age by Kay Parley Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Leslie Vermeer $19.95 978-1-894431-85-9 The Sixth Age is a gentle comedic novel about a few months in the life of Allie Dutton, a poet, former farm wife, and practical prairie woman. Allie lives in a cooperative residence for aging creatives – emphatically not a nursing home, thank you very much – situated in the wondrous Qu’Appelle Valley. When some ...

I Am Free by Del Suelo Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $24.95 ISBN 978-1-927756-50-8 When I began I Am Free – Saskatchewan writer, wanderer, and musician Del Suelo’s “slow-art” project that combines text and an audio CD in a compact hardcover package – I was perplexed. What was this? Autobiography, I surmised. But by the second essay – or chapter, or linked story – a plot evolved...

Don’t Lick the Flagpole: A Spiritual Quest for Meaning, Identity & Purpose by David Banman Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $19.95 ISBN 978-1-927756-46-1 David Banman’s inspirational book, Don’t Lick the Flagpole: A Spiritual Quest for Meaning, Identity & Purpose, delves into the glory and mystery of God – whom he also refers to as the “Designer/Creator” – and it also fervently delivers the aut...

Li’l Shadd: A Story of Ujima by Miriam Körner and Alix Lwanga, illustrated by Miriam Körner Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $29.95 ISBN 978-1-927756-48-5 Saskatchewan’s history is so multi-culturally rich that there are, admittedly, elements of it that I’ve scarcely even considered. Take, for example, the first African-Canadian pioneers, including the trail-blazing Dr. Alfred Schmitz Shadd (d.1915...

Time After Time by Gaye Smith Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $19.95 ISBN 978-1-927756-49-2 Before I even opened Time After Time, a colouring book (for mature colourers) by Lipton SK artist and all-round creative powerhouse Gaye Smith, I did some internet research. That may seem strange, for here I was about to review a book without text …shouldn’t it be, like, easy-peasy? I was vaguely aware that adult...

The Two Trees Written by Sally Meadows, Illustrated by Trudi Olfert Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $14.95 ISBN 978-1-927756-43-0 I love receiving new books to review, but sometimes I can’t get to them immediately. Before I had a chance to dive into The Two Trees, a children’s book by Saskatoon writer\illustrator team Sally Meadows and Trudi Olfert, my visiting friend, Flo, picked the book off my kitche...

Stepping Into Traffic

Thistledown Press / 21 September 2016
Stepping into Traffic by K.J. Rankin Published by Thistledown Press Review by Leslie Vermeer $15.95 978-1-77187-101-3 If you’re looking for a new book to get teens back into the habit of reading for pleasure, you won’t go wrong with Stepping into Traffic by K.J. Rankin. Published by Saskatoon’s Thistledown Press, Stepping into Traffic is a sensitive young-adult novel about bad choices and second chances. Sixteen-year-old Sebastian Till stands at a turning point in his life. We meet him in the middle of a shoplifting spree, which ends when he and his friends are caught and charged. A veteran of the child-welfare system, Seb soon finds himself in his eighth foster home in eight years — and it’s his last stop if he wants to avoid a group home, or worse, homelessness. Mrs. Ford, his new foster parent, seems cool, but Seb’s not prepared to ...

Sibling Shenanigans

Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 14 September 2016
Sibling Shenanigans by Marjorie Cripps, illustrated by Val Lawton Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $12.95 ISBN 9-781927-75706 I can’t imagine a better title for first-time author Marjorie Cripps’ collection of stories for young readers than what she’s chosen, Sibling Shenanigans. This fun and ably-written series of short tales features likeable siblings Amanda and Mitchell, who get along exceptionally well with each other, their parents, and their beloved Grandma. The senior’s a central character (and sometimes accomplice) in several of the ten pieces. Saskatchewan-born Cripps is a retired school librarian whose love of quilting is evident in many of the stories. Using different styles – some stories are written in First Person, others in Third Person; some are reali...

Launch Lead Live

Launch Lead Live by Dr. Dawn-Marie Turner Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Leslie Vermeer $24.95 978-1-927756-47-8 Maybe you’re an employee who’s been accused of resisting organizational change—let’s face it: many of us have been. Or maybe you’re a business executive who believes most employees actively resist organizational change. Whatever your role in your organization, whatever business or service you’re in, in her new book, Launch Lead Live, Dawn-Marie Turner has something to say to you: employee resistance to change is a myth. Change is the one commonplace in business: for most organizations, it’s change or fail. But constant change—to technology, systems, processes, staff roles, even staffers themselves—has a real cost. As Turner observes, “Organizations are struggling to survive under the weight and expense...

Shaping a World Already Made

University of Regina Press / 24 August 2016
Shaping a World Already Made: Landscape and Poetry of the Canadian Prairies By Carl J. Tracie Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $27.95 ISBN 9-780889-773936 The respectful and sweeping premise for Shaping A World Already Made – the brainchild of author/cultural geographer Carl J. Tracie – is to “make meaningful observations about the interconnected themes of poetry, landscape, perception, paradox, and mystery on the [Canadian] prairies.” In his examination of the poetry of place, Tracie seeks to view the prairie landscape “through the lens of poetry,” and asks how the physical elements impact on poets and their work, and how their representation of the landscape influences readers’ (“residents and outsiders”) vision of this land. A self-professed fan of poetry,...

Burning In This Midnight Dream

Coteau Books / 19 August 2016
Burning in this Midnight Dream by Louise Bernice Halfe Published by Coteau Books Review by Kris Brandhagen $16.95 9781550506655 Burning in this Midnight Dream by Louise Bernice Halfe is a book of poetry contrasted by photographs, centered around the Truth and Reconciliation process. In her preamble, Halfe states that the book is intended to “share more of that truth. Think of all the children, and weep. Children fed to pedophile priests and nuns. Children whipped and starved. Families and communities destroyed […] courtesy of the Canadian government. Courtesy of the Canadian public.” Halfe bravely records her memories, of being at residential school, the effect it had on herself and others, and how those experiences have stained life afterward. She struggles between reluctance and desire to share her knowledge. In the acknowledgements,...

Hanna’s Letter

DW Ulmer / 17 August 2016
Hanna’s Letter by Darren Ulmer Published by DW Ulmer Publishing Review by Leslie Vermeer $9.95 978-0-99502421-2 It’s said that books are a way to start a social conversation. That’s certainly the case for Darren Ulmer, author of the children’s book Hanna’s Letter, which follows a child living through her parent’s serious illness. Ulmer wrote the book to give families a resource to talk about and prepare for the effects of life-threatening illnesses. When Hanna finds out that her father has throat cancer, her world turns upside down. She feels sad and helpless until she realizes there’s one person who can help: Santa Claus. Her selfless letter to Santa, which forms the centre of the book, represents an important step in her journey, and her family’s, through a cancer diagnosis and recovery. We see Hanna’s fear, her wistfulness, and ulti...

My Good Friend Grandpa

My Good Friend, Grandpa Story by Elaine Sharfe, Illustrations by Karen Sim Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $9.95 ISBN 9-781927-756713 You don’t have to be a grandparent to appreciate Saskatoon writer Elaine Sharfe’s illustrated children’s book, My Good Friend, Grandpa. Indeed, anyone with a heart will adore this beautifully-rendered tale about a boy’s strong connection with his beloved grandfather, and, as in all the best writing, the author skillfully evokes emotion without regressing into sentimentality. Want to write your own children’s book? Reading and studying great books is the best way to learn, and I’d definitely recommend Sharfe’s well-written story to anyone who has an emotional children’s story to tell. The tenor is spot-on here. Sharfe...

Small Displays of Chaos

Coteau Books / 4 August 2016
Small Displays of Chaos by Breanna Fischer Published by Coteau Books Review by Kris Brandhagen $12.95 9781550506617 Breanna Fischer’s book Small Displays of Chaos is about a girl from Saskatoon SK who develops an eating disorder during her last two years of high school. The main character, Rayanne Timko, assigns herself a fitness goal as part of a grade ten gym class project. She likes this because tracking calories appeals to her. In the beginning, her goal is “eat healthier, exercise more.” She earns the highest score for the assignment, but when it is over, she doesn’t want to stop. Fischer really gets inside the head of her character, juxtaposing action with stark, confessional journal entries. “Today I will count. Today I will starve. I will turn into myself like an imploding star. Just like yesterday.” As her obsession turns into...

Children of the Broken Treaty

Children of the Broken Treaty: Canada’s Lost Promise and One Girl’s Dream by Charlie Angus Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $27.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-401-8 Unbelievable. Appalling. Horrific. These are adjectives that could be used to describe the contents of Children of the Broken Treaty: Canada’s Lost Promise and One Girl’s Dream. This book will make readers feel uncomfortable. It’s designed to have that effect. Discomfort is the first step to justice, and justice is the first step to recovery and reconciliation. Member of Parliament Charlie Angus pleads throughout his book that Canada’s treatment of Aboriginals is a national shame. Those most severely affected are the Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario, part of Treaty 9 territory. Many homes are without running water, plumbing, or electricity. E...

Reinvesting in Families

Reinvesting in Families by Dorothy Badry, Don Fuchs, H. Monty Montgomery, and Sharon McKay, eds. Published by University of Regina Press Review by Leslie Vermeer $39.95 ISBN 978-0-888977-352-3 Healthy families make healthy communities. The inverse is also true: when families struggle, the community suffers. Reinvesting in Families: Strengthening Child Welfare Practice for a Brighter Future, a collection of research edited by Dorothy Badry and colleagues, argues that on the prairies we need new, evidence-based social work practices to help families and communities be strong and healthy. The book takes a big step toward identifying practices that work and asking questions about future improvements. Reinvesting in Families is part of a series developed by the Prairie Child Welfare Consortium (PCWC). The University of Regina was a founding...

Featured Reviews

Stepping Into Traffic
Thistledown Press / 21 September 2016

Stepping into Traffic by K.J. Rankin Published by Thistledown Press Review by Leslie Vermeer $15.95 978-1-77187-101-3 If you’re looking for a new book to get teens back into the habit of reading for pleasure, you won’t go wrong with Stepping into Traffic by K.J. Rankin. Published by Saskatoon’s Thistledown Press, Stepping into Traffic is a sensitive young-adult novel about bad choices and second chances. Sixteen-year-old Sebastian Ti...

Sibling Shenanigans
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 14 September 2016

Sibling Shenanigans by Marjorie Cripps, illustrated by Val Lawton Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $12.95 ISBN 9-781927-75706 I can’t imagine a better title for first-time author Marjorie Cripps’ collection of stories for young readers than what she’s chosen, Sibling Shenanigans. This fun and ably-written series of short tales features likeable siblings Amanda and Mitchell, wh...

Launch Lead Live

Launch Lead Live by Dr. Dawn-Marie Turner Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Leslie Vermeer $24.95 978-1-927756-47-8 Maybe you’re an employee who’s been accused of resisting organizational change—let’s face it: many of us have been. Or maybe you’re a business executive who believes most employees actively resist organizational change. Whatever your role in your organization, whatever business or service you’re in, ...

Shaping a World Already Made
University of Regina Press / 24 August 2016

Shaping a World Already Made: Landscape and Poetry of the Canadian Prairies By Carl J. Tracie Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $27.95 ISBN 9-780889-773936 The respectful and sweeping premise for Shaping A World Already Made – the brainchild of author/cultural geographer Carl J. Tracie – is to “make meaningful observations about the interconnected themes of poetry, landscape, perception, parad...

Burning In This Midnight Dream
Coteau Books / 19 August 2016

Burning in this Midnight Dream by Louise Bernice Halfe Published by Coteau Books Review by Kris Brandhagen $16.95 9781550506655 Burning in this Midnight Dream by Louise Bernice Halfe is a book of poetry contrasted by photographs, centered around the Truth and Reconciliation process. In her preamble, Halfe states that the book is intended to “share more of that truth. Think of all the children, and weep. Children fed to pedophile prie...

Hanna’s Letter
DW Ulmer / 17 August 2016

Hanna’s Letter by Darren Ulmer Published by DW Ulmer Publishing Review by Leslie Vermeer $9.95 978-0-99502421-2 It’s said that books are a way to start a social conversation. That’s certainly the case for Darren Ulmer, author of the children’s book Hanna’s Letter, which follows a child living through her parent’s serious illness. Ulmer wrote the book to give families a resource to talk about and prepare for the effects of life-threat...

My Good Friend Grandpa

My Good Friend, Grandpa Story by Elaine Sharfe, Illustrations by Karen Sim Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $9.95 ISBN 9-781927-756713 You don’t have to be a grandparent to appreciate Saskatoon writer Elaine Sharfe’s illustrated children’s book, My Good Friend, Grandpa. Indeed, anyone with a heart will adore this beautifully-rendered tale about a boy’s strong connection ...

Small Displays of Chaos
Coteau Books / 4 August 2016

Small Displays of Chaos by Breanna Fischer Published by Coteau Books Review by Kris Brandhagen $12.95 9781550506617 Breanna Fischer’s book Small Displays of Chaos is about a girl from Saskatoon SK who develops an eating disorder during her last two years of high school. The main character, Rayanne Timko, assigns herself a fitness goal as part of a grade ten gym class project. She likes this because tracking calories appeals to her. I...

Children of the Broken Treaty

Children of the Broken Treaty: Canada’s Lost Promise and One Girl’s Dream by Charlie Angus Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $27.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-401-8 Unbelievable. Appalling. Horrific. These are adjectives that could be used to describe the contents of Children of the Broken Treaty: Canada’s Lost Promise and One Girl’s Dream. This book will make readers feel uncomfortable. It’s designed to have that ...

Reinvesting in Families

Reinvesting in Families by Dorothy Badry, Don Fuchs, H. Monty Montgomery, and Sharon McKay, eds. Published by University of Regina Press Review by Leslie Vermeer $39.95 ISBN 978-0-888977-352-3 Healthy families make healthy communities. The inverse is also true: when families struggle, the community suffers. Reinvesting in Families: Strengthening Child Welfare Practice for a Brighter Future, a collection of research edited by Dorothy ...