Treasure Box, The
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 27 February 2024

The Treasure Boxby Judith SilverthornePublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$19.95 ISBN 9781988783888 The Treasure Box is the fourth Judith Silverthorne novel I’ve read during my decades as a book reviewer, and again, this Regina-based writer has mesmerized me. I reviewed Silverthorne’s middle years’ novel, Convictions, in 2016, and must reiterate what I wrote about that novel, as it absolutely also applies to The Treasure Box: “This is extremely competent writing, and what’s more, it’s a story that’s hard to put down.” Silverthorne’s credible and likeable ten-year-old narrator, Augustus Ludwig (aka Gus), has just reluctantly moved from Calgary to Regina after his parents’ split. Now Gus, sister Hannah and Mom have moved in with Grandad, who is suffering from intermittent memory loss, and will soon be transitioning into a seniors’ home. It’s a lot, but there’s more. At school Gus becomes the target of “serious bonehead” Connor and his gang of “top dogs,” who mock his name and make school miserable, but their teacher, Mrs. Redmar, has given the class a family history assignment that may change everything for empathetic Gus … his curiosity about his own ancestors, his acceptance of the move, and even his thoughts…

Towards a Prairie Atonement (Softcover)
University of Regina Press / 26 January 2024

Towards a Prairie Atonementby Trevor HerriotPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$22.95 ISBN 9780889779648 Award-winning writer, prairie naturalist, and birder extraordinaire—Regina’s Trevor Herriot requires little introduction. River in a Dry Land: bestseller. CBC Radio: regular. I’ve just devoured Herriot’s Towards a Prairie Atonement—an eloquent treatise on the interconnected injustices that Colonialism and profit-at-all-costs dealt the prairie Métis and all living things dependent upon the Aspen Parkland grasslands. Though compact in size, this three-part essay dispenses an enormous amount of history, appeals for a reckoning, and delivers a few slight feathers of ecological hope. Herriot says he “set [his] heart on telling a story that [would] inspire people to take a second look at what we all lost, and could yet restore, in our regard for more sophisticated and nuanced forms of land governance”. The wisely-woven text begins with a map of the Saskatchewan and Manitoba rivers and historical sites discussed, and an edifying timeline that stretches from the 1600s to 2012. These centuries saw the beginnings of Canada’s fur trade; the North West and Hudson’s Bay Companies jostling; buffalo’s demise; a plethora of government decisions that greatly impacted upon the Métis; the plight of Louis Riel; the…

Legend of Sarah, The
Shadowpaw Press / 26 January 2024

The Legend of Sarahby Leslie GadallahPublished by Shadowpaw PressReview by Toby A. Welch  $24.95 ISBN 9781989398494 The Legend of Sarah was first published in 1988 under the title Lore Master. It has now been republished in this third edition by Shadowpaw Press Reprise based out of Regina. Myself and anyone else smart enough to grab a copy of The Legend of Sarah will be grateful that it was chosen for republication. A few minor references were changed to make them more up to date but the novel is otherwise unchanged. The Legend of Sarah is as relevant today as it was 35 years ago. The title character is a 14-year-old who lives a rough life. Sarah survives on the streets of the fictional town of Monn, rigorously trying to avoid trouble. A storyteller she regularly encounters weaves formidable tales, unknowingly providing inspiration for Sarah to aim for a better life. But of course things are never simple. She gets caught up in the crossfire of numerous evil and negative forces that aim to muscle their way into her world, trying to pull Sarah to a darker side. Boiled down, she is trapped between two cultures.  Sarah is an interesting character. She is a tenacious young thing, working hard every day…

Story of Me, The
Lilac Arch Press / 26 January 2024

The Story of Meby Denise Leduc, Illustrations by Olena ZhinchynaPublished by Lilac Arch PressReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$11.66 ISBN 9781778286933 Denise Leduc is a chameleon. The Aylesbury, SK writer easily changes genres, and she writes well in each of them. Perhaps you’re familiar with her children’s picture books—Poppies, Poppies Everywhere!, Letting Charlie Bow Go and In the Prairie Wind—or her titles for older readers, like Why Not Now?, My Sun-sational Summer and My Wonderful Winter. Her latest softcover is The Story of Me, a journal dedicated to her grandmother “for the memories she created with me when I was a young child”. Leduc writes that her “hope for these journals is to provide opportunities for our own reflection and for sharing between the generations”. I can certainly get behind that. Even before reading, I decided I’d share this book with my octogenarian mother, two provinces away, in Saskatchewan. Though we speak on the phone daily, an occasional conversational prompt is welcome. As Leduc suggests, “Sometimes conversations with loved ones … can help get the memories flowing”. The Story of Me delivers forty prompts to help one “remember stories” from his or her life, and it includes several spaces for personal…

See You In Le Touquet
DriverWorks Ink / 26 January 2024

See You in Le Touquet: A Memoir of War and Destinyby Romie ChristiePublished by DriverWorks InkReview by Toby A. Welch  $24.95 ISBN 9781927570845 If any book should be made into a movie, it’s this one! See You in Le Touquet reads like a gripping historical fiction novel but it is a true story. Retired Canadian journalist Romie Christie tells the story of her inspiring parents, Sandy and Dorothy, in this fascinating peek into their lives. As Christie points out in the About This Story section in the back of See You in Le Touquet, this is a work of creative nonfiction. “It is based on fact, with some creativity and imagination woven into the story… Throughout this book, I have endeavoured to stay as true to actual events as I was able.” For the parts of the timeline that Christie didn’t have firsthand knowledge of, she assembled the information via personal essays Sandy had written, Le Touquet history books, Dorothy’s diaries, photos, historians, and stories from the family members and friends of her parents.  The cast of characters in See You in Le Touquet is lengthy as many people weave in and out of Dorothy and Sandy’s lives. If you struggle to remember who’s who as I did,…

Star Poems, The: acâhkos nikamowini-pîkiskwêwina
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 25 January 2024

The Star Poems: A Cree Sky Narrative/acâhkos nikamowini-pîkiskwêwina: nêhiyawi-kîsik âcimowin”by Jesse Rae Archibald-BarberPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$24.95 ISBN 9781778690174 It’s innovative, bilingual, and gives us another kind of Genesis. The Star Poems: A Cree Sky Narrative/acâhkos nikamowini-pîkiskwêwina: nêhiyawi-kîsik âcimowin is a Cree/English poetry collection by Jesse Rae Archibald-Barber, a Regina writer, editor and professor of Indigenous Literatures at the First Nations University of Canada. Archibald-Barber has ingeniously combined traditional Indigenous creation stories—The Star stories—with quantum physics, and the result is a star-studded collection of eye-opening poems. The author essentially contemporizes Cree oral tradition stories (that “teach us how we are all related to Creation through the same source of energy and spirit”) by spinning them into poems that merge with the “spiritual and scientific understandings of the cosmos and the quantum foundations of reality”. He cites Blackfoot scholar Leroy Little Bear’s talk on quantum physics and Indigenous spirituality as a major inspiration, particularly Little Bear’s discussion on “how the quantum superstrings are what Indigenous cultures have traditionally called spirit”. He also laud’s Cree educator Wilfred Buck’s video, “Legend of the Star People,” which describes the “Hole-in-the-Sky—a ‘spatial anomaly’ or a ‘wormhole’ that leads to and…

Day of Feelings, A and A Day of Shapes and Colours
Home Style Teachers / 25 January 2024

A Day of Feelings/A Day of Shapes and Coloursby Ashley VercammenPublished by Home Style TeachersReview by Sally Meadows$15.00 ISBN 9798776175084, ISBN 9781998218004 Looking for colourful and educational books to add to your classroom, school, or home library? Check out Ashley Vercammen’s A Day of Feelings and A Day of Shapes and Colours. Ashley may have grown up in a tiny rural hamlet, but that hasn’t stopped her from thinking big! She has a degree in International Studies from the University of Saskatchewan and has taught English to children around the world. Ashley has drawn from those experiences, along with her work with children with developmental disabilities, to create easy-to-read early reader books that focus on compassion, acceptance, and community. A Day of Feelings is a wonderful resource for teaching about emotions and how to share one’s feelings with others in a socially appropriate way. Her inclusion of multicultural children in her illustrations and the conversational tone of the book particularly benefits students with English as an additional language, as well as children, such as those on the autism spectrum, who learn best from the simplicity and directness of social stories.  Ashley has included interactive activities in the book’s last few pages that give readers…

Jawbone
Radiant Press / 25 January 2024

Jawboneby Meghan GreeleyPublished by Radiant PressReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$20.00 ISBN 9781998926008 Original. Startling. Candid. Jawbone is a quick-read novella by Newfoundland writer, performer and director Meghan Greeley that encompasses the inherent joy and terror of being alive and being in love. It’s outrageous that a book this polished is the author’s debut title. I initially wondered what I was getting into. Greeley writes: “I was wired shut, and then a man put his latex fingers in my mouth and cut out the wires with gardening shears”. What? Plotwise, the narrator—a concertina-playing actor—is recuperating in a small cabin (she told the Airbnb owner that she was “looking for the loneliest place in the world”) after an accident left her both physically and emotionally shattered. We know her boyfriend had moved to California months earlier, and his letters are scattered throughout the text. The red-haired costumer designer the actor’d been sharing an apartment with was tantalizingly bizarre, ie: they created a list of tasks that take approximately a minute to complete, like “Microwaving a small portion of leftovers”. And the roommate—she of the “smoothest skin”—is difficult to read. Just friends? More than friends? Then there’s the climactic aquarium incident, among a…

Lost Treasure on the Circle Star Ranch
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 25 January 2024

Lost Treasure on the Circle Star Ranchby Jackie Cameron, Illustrated by Wendi NordellPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Sally Meadows$19.95 ISBN 9781778690013 In Lost Treasure on the Circle Star Ranch, nine-year-old Ben stumbles across yet another mystery as readers get a glimpse of life on his family’s ranch on the Canadian prairies. The story draws the reader in immediately with a vivid visual of two horses gallopping across the prairies, their riders-Ben and his sister Sarah-shouting about a grass fire. Ben’s family springs into action. The appearance of a stranger in a blue truck who helps put out the fire raises Ben’s curiosity. When he learns from a Hutterite neighbour that there had been another grass fire years ago near an abandoned cabin on his family’s rented land, and that the fire might have been connected to a thief using the cabin as a hideout, Ben’s imagination goes into overdrive. Could the stolen money and jewellery still be at the cabin? And could the mysterious man in the blue truck, who Ben spots again later at the rodeo, be on the hunt for the lost treasure? Swift Current author Jackie Cameron effectively weaves details about life on a ranch-the danger…

Loggerheads
Endless Sky Books / 25 January 2024

Loggerheadsby Bruce HornidgePublished by Endless Sky BooksReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$24.99 ISBN 9781989398975 In 1993 I was minivanning toward Tofino with my young family while an anti-logging protest was brewing in the surrounding forest, and Bruce Hornsby’s “If a Tree Falls” was the soundtrack. Thirty years later, how ironic to read a detailed memoir by a former BC logger and get quite a different perspective on that tumultuous “War in the Woods”. Loggerheads is a candid account of the “Clayoquot Sound land-use scuffle” between logging protestors and forestry giant MacMillan Bloedel, and the “world media hype” that accompanied it. It’s a peppery book, competently written by a man who had (caulk) boots on the ground: Ex-Clayoquot Sound forest worker Bruce Hornidge, who at times was “dripping saliva from [his] teeth” while protestors were “[chaining] themselves to logging equipment and [obstructing] forest workers from doing their jobs”. In his metaphor-rich account, he says the decade-long forest and land-use tensions “raged like a forest fire” and “a tsunami of Utopian beliefs and related misconstruing washed over the West Coast of Vancouver Island from around the world”. Hornidge began working for the Kennedy Lake Logging Division of MacMillan Bloedel Ltd., near Ucluelet, in…