Fun on the Farm
DriverWorks Ink / 8 August 2017

Fun on the Farm: True Tales of Farm Life! Compiled and edited by Deana J. Driver Reviewed by Michelle Shaw $17.95 ISBN 978-192757030-2 I knew Fun on the Farm: True Tales of Farm Life was a winner when the opening story, Harvest Bonding, written from the perspective of a newlywed city girl who has married a farmer, had me giggling from the start. As Jean Fahlman wryly points out, “When soulmates enter the harvest field, the marriage may be entering the twilight zone, but newly married farmers and wives don’t realize that at first”. Harvest Bonding is the first story in this collection of humorous, true accounts of farm life in Saskatchewan, compiled and edited by Regina-based Deana Driver. The book is filled with tales of mishaps, adventures and childhood memories from riding “Bessie, our two-hundred pound pig”, jam-can curling and playing street hockey with a potato as a puck, chasing wandering cows, hens that lay Easter eggs and even an amusing incident from the filming of the James Herriot movie All Creatures Great and Small. That one I have to admit was set in Yorkshire, not Saskatchewan, although there is of course a Saskatchewan connection! Many of the stories…

Fun on the Farm
DriverWorks Ink / 15 December 2016

Fun on the Farm … True Tales of Farm Life! Compiled and edited by Deana J. Driver Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $17.95 ISBN 978-192757030-2 Even if they’ve never lived on a farm, I’m going to take the bull by the horns and suggest that most readers will get a chuckle (and perhaps a nostalgic lump in the throat) from Fun on the Farm … True Tales of Farm Life!, a light-hearted anthology concerning the trials, tribulations, and tricks (including many practical jokes) inherent in farm living. DriverWorks Ink publisher, editor, and writer, Deana J. Driver asked for submissions of “stories, poems, and memories,” and two dozen folks responded-including published writers Bryce Burnett, Jean F. Fahlman, Mary Harelkin Bishop, Ed Olfert, and Marion Mutala-to recount the good old days back on the farm. Other writers I’m unfamiliar with also made generous contributions: Peter Foster (Craven, SK) has four accounts, Regina’s Keith Foster’s work is found six times, and Laurie Lynn Muirhead, from Shellbrook, appears seven times. Many of the writers shared shenanigans in which they did something foolish, innocently or otherwise. Jean Tiefenbach and her brother thought it a wise idea to tip the outhouse over…

Mishaps and Misfortunes
Doreen M. Bleich / 23 December 2014

Mishaps and Misfortunes by Doreen M. Bleich Published by Doreen Bleich Review by Alison Slowski $12.00 ISBN 978-0-9731167-2-4 This delightful, light-hearted book of short stories introduces the author, and the hero of our story, a woman with a straightforward attitude to life, and a tendency toward the disasters which befall all of us. Whether they happen at a more rapid rate to her than most, or simply because her dramatic retellings render the actual situation that much more crazy, Saskatchewan is in debt to Doreen M. Bleich for providing her own humorous stories of her life as fodder for the reader’s amusement. Giving the gift of humour to all of her readers is Bleich’s primary goal in this little, ninety-six page book of short stories. She goes through a variety of themes, from old age, to cranky husbands, drunken church congregation members, hazards explored in exercise in the form of biking, and window cleaning. Her penchant for comedic writing, coupled with her gift as an accomplished playwright and author of other short stories, combines to create pure slapstick humour that is the stuff of Charlie Chaplin’s comedy sketches. Never losing sight of the action or the direction in which her…

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…

Nobody Cries at Bingo
Thistledown Press / 29 February 2012

In Nobody Cries at Bingo Dawn Dumont shows us the ups and down of life on a Saskatchewan reserve. I came to this book not knowing much about life on the Rez, hoping to learn. But after reading Dumont’s stories about a prairie girl who loves to read, I realized that I’d come to understand more about our similarities than our differences.

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…

Love and Laughter: A Healing Journey
C. Fenwick Consulting / 19 August 2009

Love and Laughter: A Healing Journey by Catherine Ripplinger Fenwick Printed by St. Peter’s Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $21.95 ISBN 1-896971-34-2 The last time I was in McNally Robinson in Saskatoon, I happened past the self-help section and was amazed at its size. I was thinking about this as I read “Crises are part of the human condition …” in the introduction to Catherine Ripplinger Fenwick’s Love and Laughter: A Healing Journey. The book, an expansion on her popular 2004 title, “Healing With Humour,” is in part “a psychological and spiritual first aid kit.” Inside it the Regina author, therapist, and educator offers anecdotes, quotations, poetry, prayers, jokes, affirmations, activities, cartoons, strategies, and information on making humour and hope part of daily life, which results in a healthier and more joyful existence. It is both a “work-book and a play-book,” and for those who need a lift, it could be just what the doctor ordered. After a breast cancer diagnosis in 1990, Ripplinger Fenwick set out on her lifelong goal to write a book, recognizing the importance “healthy humour and hope” would play in her healing journey. She maintains that laughter is important because it “enriches all aspects…