Convictions
Coteau Books / 19 October 2016

Convictions by Judith Silverthorne Published by Coteau Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $16.95 ISBN 9-781550-506525 I’ve now read enough of Judith Silverthorne’s numerous books to know that anything she writes will be a worthy read, and my belief was confirmed again with her latest, the historical novel Convictions. This time the multi-award-winning Regina writer (and Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild) has penned an action-packed, fact-based tale about 14-year-old Jennie, a British lass sentenced to serve seven years in a penal colony in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania, Australia) after she was ungenerously convicted of theft. First however, Jennie must survive the four or five months of sailing on a convict ship with 234 other women and children, and a crew that includes more than a few letches. It’s cramped, filthy, and there’s precious little food or medical aid. Before long Jennie finds herself stitching up a fellow convict, Lizzie, a “doxie” who’s been flogged almost to death by the evil guard Red Bull. I’m in awe of how Silverthorne pulls it all together: the historical and sailing details, the adventures (including fistfights, a hurricane, and a shipwreck of Titanic proportions), and even the first sparks of a romance…

Honouring the Buffalo

Honouring the Buffalo: A Plains Cree Legend Told by Ray Lavallee Written by Judith Silverthorne Illustrated by Mike Keepness Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Michelle Shaw $14.95 ISBN: 978-1-927756-33-1 If you’ve ever wondered why the buffalo plays such a significant role in the culture and ceremonies of the Plains Cree, then this beautifully illustrated children’s book may assist you on your journey of discovery. When I first opened the book, I was struck by the fact that the story is told simultaneously in English and in the Plains Cree language (Y dialect). I don’t speak Cree but as a relative newcomer to Canada and a linguistic nerd, I was intrigued by the opportunity to be introduced to, not only a story so intrinsic to Cree culture, but also to the language. I loved the fact that certain Cree words are given their phonetic pronunciation which I think enables a reader who may not be familiar with Cree to get a linguistic sense of the language and perhaps enables them to enter the story more fully. The book is written by well-known Saskatchewan writer Judith Silverthorne, who wrote it based on an oral story told to her by…

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…

The Secret of the Stone Circle
Coteau Books / 28 January 2011

In Silverthorne’s latest book, the prolific and award-winning Regina writer again introduces readers to a contemporary character who travels back in time. Young Emily, the likeable protagonist, travels to Scotland to spend time with her geologist father (whom she’s not seen since her parents decided to divorce, months before), and to learn more about her family’s Scottish ancestry. Before leaving, however, she finds a hand mirror – “with intricate filigree metalwork and inlaid stones” – in her recently-deceased grandmother’s home, and the image in the mirror is not Emily’s own.

Something to Hang On To
Thistledown Press / 16 September 2009

Something to Hang On To by Beverly Brenna Published by Thistledown Press Review by Judith Silverthorne $12.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-57-7 Beverley Brenna’s new collection of short stories for teens is poignant and powerful. Each one is told in a clear, positive and simple way, so that Something to Hang On To will appeal to many readers. Her characters are both quirky and honest as they go through tough times. They all seem to overcome their obstacles by capturing lasting resolutions from within. Sometimes the stories are based on real life incidents and sometimes they are slightly autobiographical. Often they provide insights into a variety of serious life issues, such as loss, family violence, autism, Down’s Syndrome, or marginalization. She explores these adversities from a variety of angles. There are also some that are more-light hearted stories like the one about getting a toe caught in a vacuum cleaner, or another about parachuting from a plane for the first time. The award-winning author uses both first person and third person narrations in this compelling collection. As an added feature, there’s also an intriguing one-act play. This is her first and it’s an existential one, which captures the absurd, echoing sentiments many teens…

The Serpent’s Veil
Thistledown Press / 12 August 2009

The Serpent’s Veil by Maggi Feehan Published by Thistledown Press Review by Judith Silverthorne $18.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-56-0 Constance Stubbington wakes up in a hospital in London, England in 1899 after being thrown from a horse. The severe implications of her medical condition are withheld from her, as are the whereabouts of her father. In fact, she doesn’t recall much of her life at first, though there seem to be hints that she has spent some of her time in India during the time of colonialism. So begins Maggi Feehan’s intriguing first novel, The Serpent’s Veil. As this tale unfolds, Constance experiences a series of flashbacks and dreams. She sometimes shares these with Ank Maguire, her Irish surgeon’s assistant, whom she comes to trust. They also discover they share a spiritual connection that sometimes gives them positive insights and sometimes seems to cause problems. Constance has especially strong intuitions, which help her unravel ten years of her personal journey as she pieces her life together while still in hospital. They both have former lives and family traditions that haunt them. As they come to terms with these, they find that entering the world of intuition help transform them. This also brings…

Dinosaur Blackout
Coteau Books / 6 August 2009

Dinosaur Blackout by Judith Silverthorne Published by Coteau Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $8.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-375-3 It’s unusual to begin the fourth novel in a series without having read the three previous. Would the book stand on its own, I wondered? Or would it be like arriving late to a party and feeling lost? I needn’t have worried. Judith Silverthorne, the award-winning Regina author of “Dinosaur Blackout,” has created a time-travel adventure for juvenile readers that definitely pulls its own weight. The rich story concerns young Daniel, who lives on a farm in Saskatchewan’s Frenchman River Valley near Eastend, home of the T.rex Discovery Centre. Daniel’s a budding paleontologist and a great kid. He helps his parents with chores; has forgiven the delinquent and bullying Nelwin brothers; cares for his toddling sister; assists tourists who visit the quarry’s archaeological dig-site and campground; and is a sensitive friend to elderly neighbour\paleontologist Ole Pederson. Daniel enjoys “the best of all worlds … living the rural life and being able to dig for dinosaur bones.” The boy has learned how to use prehistoric foliage to travel back to the Cretaceous Period, where dinosaurs like the Stygimoloch – a fossil of which was…

Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada, 3rd Edition
Purich Publishing / 29 July 2009

Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada: Current Trends and Issues, 3rd Edition Edited by Yale D. Belanger Published by Purich Publishing Ltd. Review by Judith Silverthorne $45.00 ISBN 3 978-1895830-323 The third edition of Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada is an academic work. Like its predecessors, it presents a detailed and thorough analysis of the self-governance issues as they are unfolding in Canada. Edited by Yale D. Belanger, it has a forward by John H. Hylton, who was the editor of the first two editions. Policy makers, students and self-government practitioners will find this extensive volume of immense value. Belanger has gathered 19 comprehensive essays by 31 scholars and politicians to explore the practical side of a functioning self-government. The collection contains three updated chapters and the rest contain new and original material. The book is organized into five sections with section one covering the basic introduction to self-government as it understood in contemporary times. The beginning chapters include a recap the historical development and public acceptance of this concept. Then this impressive collection continues with the state of Aboriginal self-government in Canada today. The distinguished contributors go on to present an examination of the theories and the many practical issues surrounding its…

I Am Hutterite
Polka Dot Press / 27 March 2009

Fascinating, sincere and moving are only a few of the words to describe “I Am Hutterite.” Throughout this insightful memoir, Mary-Ann Kirkby transports the reader into the complex lifestyle of her heritage, which is one that is normally hidden to the outside world. She does it in a way that is intriguing, perceptive and sometimes humorous.

The Joy of Travel II
Darlene Kidd / 4 March 2009

The Joy of Travel II is an eclectic mix of random stories, poems and recollections. They span from the early 1900s to the present day. Author Darlene Ingram Kidd gathered these memoirs as ones that were special to herself and her associates. Those who like ‘down home’ stories will find many to which they will relate. These anecdotes and poetic jottings may also trigger memories of a reader’s own.