I Know My Onions
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 18 February 2015

I Know My Onions: Homesteading North of the 53rd by Ileen Boechler Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Keith Foster $16.95 ISBN 978-1-927756-30-0 Imagine reclining in your favourite armchair and reading a good book beside the fireplace on a cold winter evening. Then, having finished the book, laying it down and basking in the memories it evoked. Ileen Boechler’s I Know My Onions: Homesteading North of the 53rd is this type of book. The title comes from an expression that people who were well read, articulate, and possessing great general knowledge were said to “know their onions.” The author relates experiences from her growing-up years with her three sisters and their dog, Sport, on the family farm near Carrot River, SK. Trees were abundant in this northern area and she helped her parents build their log house. She still loves working with wood. To her, a building supply store is “like a toy store is to a child.” Ileen says she felt safe and secure in her childhood. Even in the midst of the Great Depression of the 1930s when times were tough, the family made do by being resourceful. They’d use the waxed paper lining from cereal…

Red River Raging
Coteau Books / 11 February 2015

Red River Raging by Penny Draper Published by Coteau Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $10.95 ISBN 9-781550-505849 It’s a dull, wet day and I’ve nowhere to be but home-hurray!-because today I’ve had the distinct pleasure of reading Penny Draper’s novel Red River Raging cover-to-cover, and it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Coteau Books published Red River Raging as part of its Disaster Strikes! Series, which includes six other Draper titles. After reading this latest book, I certainly see why Coteau keeps Draper on its publication roster: this “Juvenile Fiction” is a terrific story, skillfully told, and I’m happy to sing its praises to readers of any age. The back cover copy whet my appetite for this gripping Manitoba-flood-based, coming-of-age story. Thirteen-year-old Finn is the only child of Vancouver scientists, and while his parents are off to Russia, their reluctant son’s exiled to the rural, St. Agathe MB home of his cookie-baking grandmother and crusty-but mysterious-great grandfather. Finn quickly makes friends at school, including Clara, who becomes his girlfriend (and has an interesting side-story herself); and Aaron, who “got run over by a bale of hay” and is in a wheelchair. When a major flood threatens, Finn initially feels “It’s…

Journeys in Community-Based Research
University of Regina Press / 6 February 2015

Journeys in Community-Based Research Edited by Bonnie Jeffery, et al Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $80 ISBN 978-0-88977-306-6 Every journey begins with a first step. Journeys in Community-Based Research takes the reader on a giant first step in dealing with the ethics, advocacy, and impact of community-based research and learning. This highly academic study is a collection of essays reflecting case studies by 30 contributors skilled in assessing the needs of the marginalized and disadvantaged. Their goal was to develop a deeper understanding of communities and discover opportunities to improve their quality of life. In linking research, education, and action in Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods, for instance, the authors point out that “participatory research requires a two-way dialogue, combining the researcher’s theoretical knowledge with the insider’s first-hand knowledge of the milieu.” They also found that “Building credibility, trust, and rapport also depended on asking the ‘right questions.’” This meant the researchers had to demonstrate that they were listening, learning, and taking community expertise seriously. To assist other researchers, the authors developed the following five-point checklist: i) identify decision makers, ii) involve them early, iii) involve them often, iv) conduct research they can use, and v) give…