A Country Boy
Hagios Press / 25 July 2014

A Country Boy: From Sussex to the Canadian West by R.D. Symons Published by Hagios Press Review by Keith Foster $17.95 ISBN 978-1-926710-24-2 A Country Boy: From Sussex to the Canadian West is a memoir of an English lad transplanted to Saskatchewan, where he took root and flourished as a naturalist, author, and artist. Robert David Symons came by his artistic talent honestly – his father was a professional artist, and a critical one at that. He called his son’s first painting a “mess” and trampled on it “like one of Kipling’s elephants,” then showed the youngster the proper way to paint. Symons excels at detailed descriptions of prairie life, painting vivid pictures in the reader’s mind: “Coffee bubbled in a granite pot; on the well scrubbed cabinet big, brown loaves steamed, belly upward, cheek by jowl with fragrant pies.” With an artist’s eye, Symons describes one man who “possessed a tremendous acreage of gleaming teeth, and very dark eyebrows, like bits of moleskin pasted on.” His description of a prairie blizzard, resulting in 800 dead or dying cattle, is smack on. Symons enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War I and in one particularly hot battle found…

Roogaroo Mickey
Gabriel Dumont Institute / 25 July 2014

Roogaroo Mickey by Wilfred Burton illustrated by Leah Marie Dorian translated by Norman Fleury Published by Gabriel Dumont Institute Review by Jessica Bickford $15.00 978-1-926795-12-6 Roogaroo Mickey, which is authored by Wilfred Burton and illustrated by Leah Marie Dorian, is an updated version of a story of the Roogaroo, which is a classic figure in Metis oral tradition. Mamayr tells Louis and Charlie a bedtime story about when she was a little girl and had an encounter with a big hairy beast of a Roogaroo. Roogaroos are like the Metis version of a werewolf, which combines the French Loup Garous and First Nations shapeshifters, which is all very helpfully explained in a little information section in the back of the book. The next morning Louis and Charlie fall asleep in the van while Mamayr drives them all to go get groceries, but Mamayr gets a fright when what should she see in the rear-view mirror but a pair of big hairy ears! Now, I won’t spoil the rest for you, but I will say that Roogaroo Mickey is just the right amount of scary for kids and is mixed with humour to take the edge off in the end. The…

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