After The Truck Hit
DriverWorks Ink / 29 April 2015

After the Truck Hit by Jennifer Kuchinka Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Michelle Shaw $19.95 ISBN 978-1-927570-16-6 When I first picked up Jennifer Kuchinka’s book After the Truck Hit, I was both intrigued and apprehensive. With a title like that, I figured I was in for an emotional journey. After the Truck Hit is both a story and a journal of Jennifer’s life before and after the accident. It’s a story firmly rooted in Saskatchewan. In Estevan, where Jennifer was born and where she lived for a time with her husband; in Macoun, a small town in the southeast corner of Saskatchewan, where she grew up and where she lived with her parents and baby daughter while recovering from her accident, and in Regina, where she studied at the University of Regina, met her husband and subsequently spent almost three months in the fall of 2010 recovering from her accident. Much of the book seems to have been taken from Jennifer’s personal journal after the accident which is both fascinating and a little frustrating in that the reader experiences firsthand her jumbled and repetitive thoughts. To make it easier to follow, Jennifer “fills in the blanks” in italics, putting…

Gina’s Wheels
DriverWorks Ink / 7 January 2015

Gina’s Wheels by Mary Harelkin Bishop Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $13.95 ISBN 978-1-927570-12-8 I lived in Saskatoon for seventeen years, and during my frequent runs along the Meewasin Valley Trail, I would sometimes encounter a pleasant and energetic woman in a wheelchair. I recognized her to be Colette Bourgonje – one of Canada’s most accomplished Paralympic athletes – and I’m so pleased that the accomplished Saskatoon writer, Mary Harelkin Bishop, has penned an inspiring picture book celebrating both Bourgonje’s positive energy and achievement and the compassionate nature of a young child. Gina’s Wheels is based on a true story as experienced through a curious “real-life” girl named Maeve, whose mother co-taught with Bourgonje in a Saskatoon school. Impressed by Colette in the classroom, at three Maeve began using her own stroller like a wheelchair to “[explore] the world in a different way”. Harelkin Bishop – whose name many will recognize from her highly successful Tunnels of Moose Jaw Adventure Series – learned about Maeve when she was doing research for her biography, Moving Forward: The Journey of Paralympian Colette Bourgonje. Sometimes stories come about as if delivered on a plate, and kudos to the author…

Homegrown and Other Poems
DriverWorks Ink / 23 December 2014

Homegrown and other poems By Bryce Burnett Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Justin Dittrick ISBN 9 781927 570081 In Bryce Burnett’s collection of cowboy poetry, Homegrown, readers will discover lively and intelligent poems that reminisce on country life from the turn-of-the-century to the present day. Bryce Burnett demonstrates that he is a master raconteur, spinning narratives of wit and turning conventional wisdom on its head. The commonplace and the significant converge in this collection, as seen in a son who contemplates his father in his own shadow, in “Dad”. These poems frequently surprise with the unexpected, with humourous, at times, hilarious, twists and turns, as in the poem “Silent is Golden”. Several poems share recollections of unique personalities shaped by the country life, such as the giving spirit demonstrated by the most frugal of men (“The Scotsman”), the simplified existence of life on the land (“George Law”), the close-knit, at times, comic, relations that characterize the landed community (“Newlyweds”), the hard-headed, crafty bargaining practices necessary to turn a profit (“Livestock Buyers”), and a man who shows up “when all the work is done” (“The Blister”). This collection captures the ethos and colourful outlook of frontiersmen, presenting a melodious set…

Jamie and the Monster Bookroom
DriverWorks Ink / 16 December 2014

Jamie and the Monster Bookroom by Kerry Simpson (with Jamie Simpson) Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $13.95 ISBN 978-1-927570-15-9 Saskatchewan boasts a wealth of writers and artists, and, increasingly, companies that help new writers get their books into print. Deana and Al Driver are the experienced team behind DriverWorks Ink, a Regina-based company established in 2008 to publish “true stories of fascinating Prairie people and unsung Canadian heroes, books for children, fiction and humour.” Deana Driver is a journalist, writer, and editor, while Al comes from a long history as an editor in the Canadian newspaper industry. Their evolution into publishing seems a natural one. I opened my first DriverWorks Ink book, Jamie and the Monster Bookroom, ready to embrace a fresh Saskatchewan voice. The story features a little girl, Jamie, who loves books, her local library, and, as the back cover copy states, “all the smells and textures that come with the books she’s read on her weekly visits there.” Kerry Simpson, a teacher by profession, wrote the book with the help of her own young daughter, Jamie, and from the bio notes I assume this is a story that reflects the “real” Jamie’s life….

The Inquiring Reporter
DriverWorks Ink / 26 April 2013

The Inquiring Reporter by Clay Stacey Review by Michelle Shaw Published by DriverWorks Ink $20.95 ISBN 978-0-9879643-1-1 Clay Stacey started out in 1960 as a rookie printer sweeping the floor and removing misfed sheets of newsprint from the ink rollers. He soon progressed to reporting and spent his career in numerous small towns throughout Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia and Alberta, retiring in 2011 after 50 years as a reporter, editor, publisher, and on two occasions, owner, of newspapers such as The Revelstoke Herald, Fort Qu’Appelle Times, Calgary Albertan, Kamloops Daily Sentinel, The Golden Star, and the Moose Jaw Times-Herald. Stacey’s career is full of colourful and memorable anecdotes. He interviewed prime ministers, provincial premiers and skid row drunks. He helped a First Nations couple seek justice over a land dispute with the federal government and helped raise funds to send a dying child to a faraway city for cancer treatment. His reporting helped to encourage a prominent politician to resign from his cabinet post amidst allegations of fraud and he broke an exclusive story about the discovery of Nazi documents in a dilapidated shack in the BC wilderness. In looking back at a long and fascinating career it’s tempting to…

SuperMom and the Big Baby
DriverWorks Ink / 28 February 2013

Supermom and the Big Baby by Dave Driver Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Karen Lawson ISBN 978-1-927570-01-2 Sometimes the idea for a story comes from an unusual source. According to author, Dave Driver, the inspiration for his children’s book came from his wife, Kelli, who regularly talks in her sleep. After being regularly wakened at night by her nocturnal chattering, Dave had a brainstorm and decided to create a story based on her nonsensical ramblings. The result is a lighthearted book entitled Supermom and the Big Baby. The author includes his whole family in his story but the star of the tale is his baby son, Easton. Easton has an argument with his big brother, Cooper, and then grows and grows and doesn’t stop growing. He soon takes over the neighbourhood and is on the loose. The Driver family must figure out how to get their baby back and reduced to normal size. It doesn’t take long before Easton is running amok and terrorizing the neighbourhood. Neighbours try and help corral the giant baby but ultimately it is up to Supermom aka Kelli to save the day and rescue her enormous son and shrink him back to normal size….

Our Lamps Were Heavy
DriverWorks Ink / 24 January 2013

Our Lamps Were Heavy by Eleanor A. Sinclair Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Keith Foster $14.95 ISBN 978-0-9879643-3-5 A diary is a good thing to keep; you never know when it might come in handy. Eleanor Sinclair uses extracts from a diary she kept as a nurse in training as the basis for her book, Our Lamps Were Heavy. A retired registered nurse, Sinclair relates the sharp learning curve she experienced as a teen in the 1950s while in training at the Holy Family Hospital and School of Nursing in Prince Albert. She soon learned there was more to nursing than wearing a white uniform. This book is not for the squeamish. While assisting in a delivery, Sinclair witnessed both mother and baby die in childbirth. Then she had to carry the stillborn child to the morgue and clean it for burial. Her narrative slows somewhat when she uses medical terms, but is most lively when she quotes from her diary: “I copied doctor’s orders wrong today and had a baby girl to be circumcised tomorrow. Did I ever get teased.” Sinclair supplements her text with three dozen black and white photos taken while she was training. All the…

The Sailor and the Christmas Trees
DriverWorks Ink / 18 December 2012

The Sailor and the Christmas Trees: A True Story by Deana Driver Illustrated by Catherine Folnovic Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Keith Foster $14.95 ISBN 978-192757002-9 Although a prolific writer with five books and more than 2,000 articles in Canadian newspapers and magazines to her credit, this is Deana Driver’s first children’s book. It is a true story, told in simple language a child can easily understand. The story revolves around John Hanlon, a wireless operator in the Royal Canadian Navy in World War II. His ship, HMCS (His Majesty’s Canadian Ship) Royalmount, was protecting convoys bringing supplies to Britain. Knowing that on the return trip he would be at sea on Christmas Day, Hanlon and three other sailors cut down a few evergreen trees to decorate their frigate. When they found out that another ship was carrying children to safety in Canada, they got close enough to shoot a line across it. One of the trees was then pulled over. “Those children’s eyes were so big as they watched that tree bobbing along the line from our ship to theirs,” Hanlon recalled. “Those children started cheering.” Fifty years later, at a reunion in Calgary, Hanlon met a woman…

Letters to Jennifer
DriverWorks Ink / 2 March 2012

Letters to Jennifer from Maudie and Oliver by Sharon Gray Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Chris Ewing-Weisz $16.95 ISBN 978-098103947-3 When a dear friend who lives far away has cancer, what can you do? If you’re a pair of enterprising Siamese cats in Winnipeg, you write frequent, short, funny letters, full of news of your feline world, and include brief expressions of your love and care. Jennifer is a real person, and Maudie and Oliver are real cats. The letters are real, too, from the pen of Maudie and Oliver’s “Live-In Person,” Sharon Gray. Written over the course of Jennifer’s illness, the letters offer a cat’s-eye view of the world that is frequently hilarious, sometimes poignant, and always engaging. Anyone who has lived with cats will admire the closely observed feline behaviour and distinct individual characters of Maudie and Oliver. Anyone who has been through a personal disaster will appreciate the light touch and frequent but understated expressions of care. And anyone who’s ever felt helpless in the face of someone else’s suffering will find ample inspiration in this delightful work. Gray’s keen eye, good heart, and smart pen are well complemented by Erika Folnovic’s charming drawings. This is…

Moving Forward
DriverWorks Ink / 5 May 2011

Moving Forward The Journey of Paralympian Colette Bourgonje by Mary Harelkin Bishop Published by DriverWorks Ink Reviewed by Cindy Wilson $16.95 ISBN 978-0-9810394-4-2 Young people need heroes – individuals who meet life with determination and grace. It is surprising that an athlete of the stature of Colette Bourgonje, from my home province, was totally unknown to me. Colette Bourgonje has had amazing successes in her lifetime, yet I did not recognize her name. Bourgonje’s story should be celebrated and promoted. As a teenager in her hometown of Porcupine Plain, she was a star athlete. After a devastating car accident in her final year of high school, Bourgonje became paralyzed and could no longer participate in the active sports she loved. She had been a long distance runner who excelled in volleyball, cross country running, basketball, and in track and field. After her accident she graduated with a Bachelor of Education and a degree in Physical Education from the University of Saskatchewan. Colette had begun wheelchair racing near the end of her University career, and had done well. She was fearless and as her brother Everett said,”a bit of a daredevil”. She was never afraid of a challenge or to try…