Ghosts of Government House

Ghosts of Government House by Judith Silverthorne Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Jessica Bickford $9.95 978-1-894431-63-7 Ghosts of Government House follows Sam and J.J., two young girls living in Regina, as they explore an integral building in this city’s history. Most people who have lived in Regina for a while will have probably been to Government House at some point, whether for tea, a tour, or any of the special events throughout the year. It is a special place, made even more special by the supposed haunting. Sam and J.J. make repeated visits to Government House trying to find out just who (or what) might be making mysterious things happen in the historical building. With the help of tour guides, the commissionaire, and Grandma Louise, the girls must prove to Sam’s older brother Gabe that the ghosts are real, or be forced to stay inside and out of trouble for two whole weeks! But the girls get even more than they imagined when they manage to not only see, but talk to some of the ghosts haunting the rooms and hallways of Government House. Grandma Louise helps the girls to overcome their fears, both about the ghosts…

Beliefs & Religions Around the World

Beliefs & Religions Around the World by Judy Kirton illustrated by Val Lawton Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Jessica Bickford $16.95 978-1-894431-60-6 Beliefs & Religions Around the World is a colourful and informative starter guide to world religion for small children. The sincere story by Judy Kirton spotlights seven different belief systems in descending order based on worldwide membership, and the illustrations by Val Lawton depict bright, happy families enjoying their culture and faith. Each different belief is introduced by a child who says where most of the people of that faith live, with an accompanying illustration of the globe. This is followed by any special books or teachings, any particular prayer location, and one or two special holidays. Any words that would be difficult for a small child, such as mosque, are also spelled out phonetically so it is a great opportunity for kids who are learning to read to tackle some more challenging words. The illustrations show families celebrating their faith in traditional clothing, which demonstrates a bit of cultural diversity around the world. The book presents a joyful global community that includes those of a particular faith, those whose family has more than one…

Autumn Wind

“Autumn Wind” by Eusebio L. Koh Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Karen Lawson $14.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-45-3 Eusebio L. Koh spent many years ensconced within the walls of academia. He is a former university professor who taught Mathematics at the University of Regina. After retiring, his passion for writing snowballed into a desire to share his thoughts and ideas. He received positive feedback from his first book, Like the Mimosa , and he was inspired to write a second book. This latest offering is called Autumn Wind, and like his first book, it is a collection of short stories, poems and essays. The poems and stories are touching and heartwarming. Koh chooses subjects that are dear to his heart and are easy for the reader to relate to and identify with. From the simple joy of picking Saskatoon berries, to the deep love for his grandson, the author taps into his sensitive side and reveals a part of himself through his expressive language and his ability to tell a story that flows effortlessly. Koh shares his emotions and feelings in an honest, open way. He has that special gift that makes a writer endearing to his readers –…

Lonely Luna

Lonely Luna by Majid Damircheli Illustrated by Wendy Siemens Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Kris Brandhagen $14.95 978-1-894431-59-0. Lonely Luna written by Majid Damircheli with illustrations by Wendy Siemens is about a little girl who moves from a warm climate to a cold one. It is a story that successfully conveys some of the trials and hardship that may occur within a family, and specifically with children, when making such a grand adjustment in place, weather, language, family relations, and culture shock. As Luna experiences winter for the first time, Damircheli establishes a nice rhythm of repetition, using epithets to teach about snow being “white like milk” and “cold as ice”. Because of the weather, the neighboring children don’t go out to play, and Luna only gazes out the window at the empty neighborhood, hence the title Lonely Luna. Luna is seriously out of her element in terms of temperature, but also in terms of language. She seems to be, hmm, eight? She can’t understand at school, and so doesn’t make friends there either. To the moon and the sun, in turn, she wishes for a friend. Siemens includes an illustration that shows three figurines, the sun,…

Linger
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 18 February 2011

Linger by Marny Duncan-Cary and illustrated by Megan Mansbridge Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Karen Lawson $12.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-10-1 Linger is the first collaborative effort by Marny Duncan-Cary and Megan Mansbridge. Duncan-Cary is song writer and singer from Lumsden and Mansbridge is an accomplished artist. Together they are a winning combination and have created a gem of a book. Although it is a child’s picture book, Linger is one of those heartstring-tugging classics that everyone falls in love with. The first day of school is an emotional milestone. It is full of excitement and anticipation but also apprehension as your child takes her first flight from the nest. What mother hasn’t shed a tear to see her baby climb the steps of the big orange school bus for the first time and watch it disappear down the road? Duncan-Cary explains why she wrote this book in the foreword; she shares how difficult it was to realize and to acknowledge that her child was becoming independent and was growing up. Duncan-Cary was so overwhelmed by her emotions on that warm, autumn day when her youngest daughter started school that she went home and wrote the song Linger. The…

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…