Baba’s Babushka

Baba’s Babushka by Marion Mutala Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Karen Lawson $14.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-53-8 Baba’s Babushka is a delightful Christmas tale written by Saskatchewan author Marion Mutala. She has created a charming story that celebrates her proud Ukrainian heritage and lives up to the subtitle of her book, “A Magical Ukrainian Christmas.” Natalia, the star of this lively story, is a little Ukrainian girl living in rural Saskatchewan who is taken, with the reader, on an enchanted journey back in time. Although Natalia is excited, like all children, about Christmas, her joy is marred by a deep sadness. This will be the first Christmas that her beloved grandmother, Baba, will not be present to share in the fun, festivities, and traditions of Christmas with her family. One day a brightly-coloured red and blue babushka, or headscarf, appears out of nowhere that reminds Natalia of the one her Baba used to wear. Mysteriously transported to another time and place, Natalia finds herself sharing a meal with a strangely familiar family who perform all the same Christmas Eve traditions her own family does. Though she is unsure why, Natalia feels very close and connected to another little girl…

Don’t Think Twice
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 29 October 2010

Don’t Think Twice by Alison Lohans Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Karen Lawson $14.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-35-4 Anyone who came of age during the turbulent 1960s will immediately relate to the novel Don’t Think Twice by prolific Saskatchewan author, Alison Lohans. It is challenging enough to write a smoothly flowing story that is set in just one time period but Lohans takes on the difficult writer’s task of merging dual stories from two different eras. The plots swing seamlessly from 1967 to 1997 and merge to form a unified and smooth conclusion. Jan, a middle aged mother is frantically searching for her rebellious, runaway daughter, Lisa. She discovers that writing a journal to her daughter expressing her own emotions helps to alleviate her worries and fears about her daughter’s well being and safety. Jan shares her innermost feelings and explains how she survived her own tumultuous youth. She tells the story of how she met Lisa’s father Rob when they were both teenagers growing up in rural California. Jan became close to his family and explains how their views and liberal lifestyle impacted her own political beliefs and ideas. She also shares the story of the devastating family…

Anton
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 13 September 2010

Anton by Dale Eisler Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Kris Brandhagen $22.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-46-0 Dale Eisler’s Anton is a perfect marriage of insight and history. The writing is intelligent; addressing the problems of memory, physical memory, exile, extreme circumstances and lack of geographical identity using the conventions of autobiography. The story of Anton and his best friend is well designed, intensely layered, a refreshing mix of show and tell. Such rich detail! As a reader, I felt as if Eisler reached into my mind and revealed that I already know the universal human truth. The narrator, Anton, is Eisler’s grandfather, as a four-year-old boy whose first memory is seeing his mother cry, and thus crying too. When his mother picks him up, he “remember[s] the smell of her dress like it was yesterday. We always washed our clothes in a large wooden tub in the backyard and used lye soap that smelled like lemon. Mom’s dress smelled like lemon that morning”. The writing is tidy, sensual; as a reader not only can I see, but I can taste, smell, touch. This also, being the first day Anton retains in memory, is what he refers to as the…

www.walkwithapolarbear.com

www.walkwithapolarbear.com by Mercedes Montgomery Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Joan Givner $12.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-29-3 When Angela returns from holiday on her thirteenth birthday, she finds her room transformed into an arctic setting, complete with murals of polar bears. She has “had a thing” for polar bears ever since a family holiday in Jasper National Park. Subsequent chapters explain the source of her preoccupation, and take the form of an animal fable. The polar bears of northern Manitoba have begun to have prophetic dreams of disaster. Led by a young bear called Nanuq, they convene to discuss the cause and remedy. The cause is global warming, melting ice, and the disappearance of their food source. They decide that the hope for saving their habitat lies with the children of the world, and resolve to find children and make them aware of their plight. Nanuq makes the arduous journey to Jasper, where he sees Angela. They are brought together when he rescues her from an accident on the ski-slope. From that moment on, she is converted to the cause of saving the polar bears and joins forces with others converted to activism by the traveling bears. Like most animal…

Like the Mimosa

Like the Mimosa by Eusebio L. Koh Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Reviewed by Cindy Dean-Morrison $16.95 CDN ISBN 978-1-894431-22-4 Like the Mimosa by Filipino-Canadian author Eusebio L. Koh promises an exotic experience. It does not fail. Koh immediately transports the reader into his beloved Filipino world using brilliant descriptions, memorable characters, occasional Filipino words, and humour. He shares intimate truths via stories, poems and essays. In the short story section we are immediately pulled in by “Soap” which deals with the Japanese occupation of the Philippines at the start of WW II. Koh begins, “In times of war, life is as fragile as it gets.” One might expect dark events after that introduction, but Koh tells the story from a precocious boy’s viewpoint who has a great sense of humour and humanity. All the stories read as colourful history, studies in family dynamics, and explorations of cultural mores. Koh writes exquisitely crafted cinquains, sonnets, and free verse poems. He explores love, nature, war, faith and Saskatchewan prairie spirit. Perhaps common poetic themes, but Koh is anything but common in his approach. In fact, the poems are often surprising. Love, for example, is reflected in the poem “Theorems.” “Theorems…

Songcatcher

Songcatcher by Aline Perret-Vallée Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Sharon Adam $16.95 ISBN 978-894431-32-3 Songcatcher falls in a new genre that combines autobiography with poetry and essay. It is the story of an ordinary woman who enjoys her life and shares with her audience the blessings gathered over eight decades. A Saskatchewan girl, Aline tells us her story in a very entertaining and enjoyable format. She begins with her mother’s family and the story of how they ended up in Duck Lake, where Aline’s mother meets her future husband and they begin their own family. The author shares the respect and joy her home-life provided in times that were hard on the prairies. We glimpse the farm life of a young girl and her brothers and sisters. Aline shares stories and poems of her school years and of leaving home in 1949 to become a nun at the Novitiate in St. Hyacinth, Quebec. She then begins a teaching career that sees her move to various locales, including Prince Albert, Spiritwood, The Pas, Laurier, Debden and Swift Current, ending in Wadena. We learn of a love story that begins in Prince Albert and eventually ends happily with Aline leaving her…

Richardson’s Ramblings
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 19 November 2009

Richardson’s Ramblings by E. George Richardson Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing review by Sharon Adam $16.95 ISBN978-1-894431-12-5 This slim volume is a compendium of poetry, essays, editorials and reflections gathered from Mr. Richardson’s life. A native of Pelly, Saskatchewan, Richardson’s book covers his writing over the past 60 years and is comprised of topics that held significance to his life and imagination. We learn that a young George lied about his age and joined the armed forces in an effort to follow his two brothers into combat during the Second World War. He was restricted to Canada because he was blind in one eye, the result of a childhood accident. He began writing about his experiences during this time and continued throughout his life. Imagination was also a source for his writing and we are invited to share his whimsy on such subjects as life’s journey, winning the lottery and what if? His ramblings are diverse and include thoughts on such subjects as the Calgary Flames, politics, and the British Royal Family. Readers discover his passion for friendship and family as he explores his emotions through poetry and essay. George reveals his personality to his readers through his honesty…

Return of the Fearsome Critters
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 14 October 2009

Return of the Fearsome Critters by Warren S. James Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shanna Mann $12.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-26-2 Have you heard of the horrible Hodag? Do you know what an Agropelter is? Regina storyteller Warren James has parlayed his interest in cryptozoology into this creative and original book of poems featuring some of the nearly lost creatures of North American folklore. Each silly poem is preceded by a short encyclopedic entry (complete with pseudo-scientific name!) of the fearsome critter in question. The handsome facing illustrations by Susan Hopkins McQuarrie are reminiscent of Edward Gorey or Maurice Sendak. The whole family will enjoy the spooky illustrations and the amusing and inventive poems. The poems are clearly meant to be read out loud, the same way that many years ago these stories were told by lamplight. Though the stories began as eerie tales told to frighten unwary greenhorns and travelers, the regrettable lack of gullible greenhorns (and the resultant lack of sightings) meant that these weird and terrifying creatures would have been almost forgotten, if not for the author and his delightful poems. Take this book camping with you, or read it around the fireplace for an authentic…

A Rose Grows
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 23 September 2009

A Rose Grows: Fighting Cancer, Finding Me by Olga Stefaniuk Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Andréa Ledding $16.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-33-0 This memoir starts off by bringing the reader to small town prairie life in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Growing up in the village of Hubbard, the author lives and works at the general store with her parents and siblings. The reader has an enjoyable look into her childhood and family life in a then-bustling railroad village – a glimpse into a bygone era where ‘fast food’ was the barrel of pickled herrings in the front of the general store, and Christmas oranges were mainly prized because their wrappings meant softer paper in the outhouse. After this introduction, the story follows her journey to Saskatoon, career, marriage, two children – and cancer. When Stefaniuk finds a lump in her breast at the age of 42, the reader shares her journey of survival, loss, perseverance, and determination to reach out to others in the midst of her own struggle to not only survive – but thrive. Along the way, Stefaniuk starts local cancer support groups, brings cancer retreats to the province, and makes friends wherever she goes. She carries…