More Babas, Please!

More Babas, Please! by Marion Mutala, Illustrated by Olha Tkachenko Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Michelle Shaw $14.95 ISBN 9781927756928 Award-winning author Marion Mutula’s latest book, More Babas, Please! is a happy celebration of grandmothers. All grandmothers everywhere. “Big ones, small ones, fat ones, tall. Curly-haired, straight-haired, wig-wearing, bald.” The rhyming has an almost sing-song rhythm which seems so natural that you instinctively know that a lot of work has gone into making it seem so effortless! The layout is classic and clean with lots of white space and large type, perfect for early readers and grown-ups with bad eye sight. Each left page features a beautiful full page colour illustration by Ukranian-born illustrator Olha Tkachenko. Although the book celebrates grandmothers of all nationalities, Mutala’s love for her Ukranian heritage and her babas is a constant thread throughout the book. She uses Ukranian words like holubtsi (cabbage rolls) and dyakuyu (thank you) and for non-Ukranian speakers there’s a helpful glossary at the back of the book. There’s even a recipe for Baba Sophie’s Borscht! The book gave me a warm feeling as I reflected on my own grandmother. It speaks to all the good that grandmothers do…

Shepherd’s Watch

Shepherd’s Watch by Counios & Gane Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Michelle Shaw $19.95 ISBN 9781927756959 Shepherd’s Watch is the second book in the Shepherd and Wolfe mystery series by Regina authors Angie Counios and David Gane. I’m always a bit wary of being introduced to a new author or series but this book exceeded all my expectations. I loved it so much, in fact, that I went out and bought the first book in the series so that I wouldn’t miss out! The books revolve around the lives (and adventures) of two high school students, Tony Shepherd (well-adjusted, athletic and bright) and “wise-ass troublemaker”, Charlie Wolfe. In the first book, Along Comes a Wolfe, Tony’s girlfriend goes missing and it’s suspected that a serial killer is at work. The boys investigate and barely escape with their lives. Shepherd’s Watch is set a few months later at the lake where Tony and his family are spending the summer. Charlie arrives at the cabin unannounced and soon the boys are investigating the disappearance of a local man who has inexplicably gone missing. From the start of the book, I had an idea of where the plot was going….

Along Comes a Wolfe
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 28 February 2017

Along Comes a Wolfe by Angie Counios and David Gane Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Mazin Saffou $19.95 ISBN 9781927756782 When high school student Sheri Beckman mysteriously disappears, her boyfriend, Tony Shepherd, finds himself in a dubious partnership with the streetwise smart aleck, Charles Wolfe, in order to find out what happened to her and to stop a vicious spree killer. Subtle influences of noir and Hardy Boys mysteries influence Counios and Gane’s compelling young adult murder mystery in Saskatchewan’s queen city. Along Comes a Wolfe takes the reader on a journey through the quintessential world of coming of age teenagers from the safe, yet banal suburbs, bustling high school hallways, busy shopping malls, and parties out of town, but also into the macabre domain of the killer in hollow, abandoned industrial buildings and construction sites on the edge of the city – taking Tony further away from his safe and ordinary life. Tony Shepherd is driven to find out what happened to Sheri and yet at the heart of the story is Tony’s conflicted relationship with the enigma that is Charlie Wolfe. In contrast to the levelheaded Tony, Charlie is a troubled and mischievous youth from…

Goodbye Stress, Hello Life!
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 20 January 2017

Goodbye Stress, Hello Life! by Allan Kehler Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $15.95 ISBN 978-1-927756-53-9 Stress: every person deals with some amount of it. Some turn to vices (drugs, alcoholism, over-eating); some become angry, fearful, or depressed; many become physically ill; and fortunate others view stress as a challenge to be dealt with in positive ways (ie: changing routines, practicing mindfulness, exercising). If stress is threatening to sink you, reading Saskatonian Allan Kehler’s latest book, Goodbye Stress, Hello Life!, could be a swell start to swimming out of it. Kehler is a public presenter with a wealth of experience, both professional (addictions counsellor, clinical case manager, and college instructor) and personal (mental health and addiction issues) that fuel his authority on stress and living a healthier life. The blurb on Goodbye Stress, Hello Life! is a strong motivator for any potential readers: [Kehler] empowers you to take an honest look at what lies beneath your stressors, and provides the tools to heal through a holistic approach. You will be inspired to stop existing and start living …” What I appreciate most about this book is the great and diverse analogies Kehler employs, ie: he…

Good Morning, Sunshine!
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 7 December 2016

Good Morning, Sunshine! (A Story of Mindfulness) by Trina Markusson, illustrated by James Hearne Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $15.95 ISBN 9-781927-756775 There’s much talk these days about mindfulness, and truth be told, this reviewer has signed up for a class on that very topic. I’m also starting to hear that mindfulness-or “living in the moment”-is being taught in some schools, and I can only imagine how much this will benefit students who adopt the practice into their daily lives. Perhaps you remember some of the worries you had as a child, or you recall how stressful teenage years can be. Maybe you have a son or daughter who is fearful or anxious, and you don’t know how to help them. Let me introduce you to Good Morning, Sunshine! (A Story of Mindfulness), a gently-told (and sweetly-illustrated) children’s book by Regina teacher, speaker, and writer, Trina Markusson. Drawing from her youngest son’s experience, as well as her own, Markusson, has penned a sensitive story about Zachary-a boy old enough to play football but young enough to enjoy the company of a teddy bear-that demonstrates how hanging on to the past or worrying about the…

Government House, Regina, Saskatchewan: An Illustrated History
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 30 November 2016

Government House, Regina, Saskatchewan: An Illustrated History by Edward Willett Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Keith Foster $39.95 ISBN 978-1-927756-76-8 Government House, Regina, Saskatchewan: An Illustrated History by Regina author Edward Willett is a masterful work of art in both narrative and illustration, solid in structure, and powerful in its rendition. It’s actually a revised and enlarged version of Margaret Hryniuk’s A Tower of Attraction, edited by Garth Pugh and published in 1991 for the 100th anniversary of Government House. That book is long out of print, and a lot has happened in the last twenty-five years – time for a new version for the 125th anniversary in 2016. The Government House Historical Society, with its foresight to preserve its past for the future, undertook both book projects. Willett revises A Tower of Attraction, which covers the period up to and including the term of Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Fedoruk, using it as his launch pad and taking off from there. This book is as up to date as it can be – going through to August 2016. In addition to interviewing the staff at Government House and the widow of former lieutenant Governor John E.N “Jack” Wiebe,…

Life & Times of Lighthouse McNeil, The
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 3 November 2016

The Life & Times of Lighthouse McNeil: An Adventure in the RCMP by George Garrett Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Keith Foster $19.95 ISBN 978-1-927756-65-2 The legendary traditions of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are based on individual members who excelled. In The Life & Times of Lighthouse McNeil: An Adventure in the RCMP, George Garrett chronicles the exploits of one such legendary member – Alexander Stirling McNeil. Born in Winnipeg in 1908, McNeil joined the RCMP in 1931, taking his training at “Depot” Division in Regina. By the time he retired in 1966, he had served in more than thirty detachments across Canada and became a legend in his time. He earned his nickname “Lighthouse McNeil” in 1931 while playing with the Regina Roughriders, forerunner of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Standing at six feet, four inches, he made an easily visible receiver. Returning to the huddle after one particular play in which the quarterback hadn’t thrown to him, he protested, “Why didn’t you throw the ball to me? I’m like a ruddy lighthouse out there!” McNeil was involved in several significant events in Saskatchewan’s history, such as quelling a coal miners’ strike in Estevan in 1933, and…

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 realistic, others fantastic – and an upbeat tone, Cripps welcomes us into the active lives of young Amanda and Mitchell, beginning with the latter’s spectacular adventure in a “runaway stroller”. Cripps shares anecdotes about sleepovers, birthdays, Christmases, pet dogs, camping, and a family move from one side of Vancouver to the other. I appreciated how easily the author’s pen swung between real life and fantasy, making both feel credible. In “Barkley on Wheels,” we learn that Grandma…

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 of what feels like overwhelming, but necessary, change.” So a book that can help reduce the costs of change—not just financial, but also human—is very welcome. Turner proposes that leaders demystify change by making it meaningful to the people it affects and motivating them to move through the stages of change. Turner describes such efforts as “Building readiness instead of trying to manage resistance.” Leaders support readiness by developing an organization’s capacity to change….

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 starts and ends on just the right notes, immediately establishing the characters’ close relationship by simply stating it: “Noah and Grandpa Ed had been good friends for as long as Noah could remember. Grandpa Ed said they had been friends forever.” Nanaimo illustrator Karen Sims ably demonstrates this tight bond via full-colour images that show the young, big-eyed boy and his loving grandfather involved in activities that range from watering plants at the family cottage to enjoying treats…