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…

The Running of the Buffalo
DriverWorks Ink / 11 February 2011

Running of the Buffalo by Ron Petrie Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Cindy Wilson $21 ISBN 978-0-9810394-5-9 What child growing up during a Saskatchewan winter has not put their tongue on a frozen metal object, or been aghast and terrified by seeing someone else make that terrifying (and painful) mistake? Ron Petrie’s Running of the Buffalo will make you forget the pain entirely. This book is filled with enjoyable nonsense, a great deal of local knowledge, and accurate research sometimes hidden beneath the author’s antics. You’ll see yourself, or someone you’re related to, or someone you know in Petrie’s humour and approachable style. The author, who grew up on a farm in province with largely rural populations, shares his point of view, which others from rural Saskatchewan will relate to. Petrie offers the ridiculous in areas like child rearing, home improvement, sex, and government. You’ll laugh out loud at the author’s take on growing up in Saskatchewan, and at his take on life. It’s great to read about the province’s rural towns and villages, many of which will be instantly familiar to the seasoned Saskatchewanian. Petrie suggests the names of some towns could mistakenly reflect the type of citizens…

The Little Coat
DriverWorks Ink / 13 October 2010

The Little Coat by Alan J. Buick Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Joan Givner $19.95 ISBN 978-0-9810394-3-5 Alan J. Buick deftly weaves together the true stories of two people against the background of World War II. The first is Everdina (nicknamed ‘Sussie’), a little Dutch girl whose family suffered and survived the horrors of the German occupation. The other is Bob Elliott from Alberta, who enlisted in the Canadian army at the age of fifteen by lying about his age. Their stories intersect when his tank brigade arrived in Holland. Sussie became the brigade’s mascot and was rewarded one Christmas with an amazing gift. It was a set of new clothes to replace her ragged ones. These included the coat of the title, made by a local dressmaker and decorated with eight beautiful buttons, each one donated by a soldier from his uniform. The coat was still Sussie’s most cherished possession when Bob made a return visit to the Netherlands decades later. The two, both now divorced, met, fell in love, and married. They spent the rest of their lives together, dividing their time between Canada and Holland. Sussie donated her coat to the Canadian Legion Hall in Olds,…