Murphy Mondays
DriverWorks Ink / 10 January 2019

Murphy Mondays by Jane Smith Review by Michelle Shaw Published by DriverWorks Ink $13.95 978-1-927570-45-6 If you live in or around Saskatoon the chances are that you have already seen or heard about Murphy, the lovable brown and white English Springer Spaniel who spreads a little magic wherever he goes. Murphy is a St John Ambulance (SJA) Therapy Dog who regularly visits Royal University Hospital’s (RUH) Emergency Room as well as other care facilities around the city. He also sometimes visits the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the Saskatoon airport. Murphy holds the distinction of being the first SJA Therapy Dog to visit an emergency room in Canada. He was such a success at RUH and made such a significant difference to patients and staff that the program has since been expanded in Saskatoon, as well as emergency rooms in other parts of Canada. He was also one of the SJA dogs who visited the injured Humboldt Bronco hockey players and their families in hospital after their bus accident in April 2018. Murphy and his handler/owner Jane Smith moved to Saskatoon from Nova Scotia in 2014. Jane’s youngest daughter Sarah George was the first to suggest that Murphy would…

Horses, Dogs and Wives
DriverWorks Ink / 15 November 2018

Horses, Dogs and Wives by Bryce Burnett Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Keith Foster $19.95 ISBN 978-1-927570-44-9 A cowboy needs three things – his horse, a dog, and a wife. This is according to Bryce Burnett, author of Horses, Dogs and Wives, a collection of rhyming cowboy poems and short stories with a good dose of humour throughout. Burnett points out that he has several horses and numerous dogs, but only one wife, whom, he admits, he embarrasses with his poems. Horses, Dogs and Wives is divided into four sections – one each on horses, dogs, and wives, plus a bonus section for good measure. He also includes several quotes by American cowboy humorist Will Rogers. Burnett’s poems cover a variety of horses, from quarter horses, unbroken rodeo horses, even a rocking horse, to those bound for the processing plant. He shows the dangers of being thrown off a horse. In the section on canine friends, Burnett speaks about the pride of training a dog, although one might wonder who is training whom. But with a well-trained dog, he points out, there’s really no need for a hired hand. In “Puppy Love,” Burnett writes from a dog’s point of…

Lena’s Story
DriverWorks Ink / 7 November 2018

Lena’s Story: The D-Day Landings by Patricia Sinclair Published by DriverWorks Ink Reviewed by Ben Charles $12.95 ISBN 9781927570463 Lena’s Story: The D-Day Landings, written by Patricia Sinclair, illustrated by Wendi Nordell, and published by DriverWorks Ink is a fantastic work of historical literature for young readers that is both beautifully crafted and exceptionally informative. The book cleverly educates the reader about the D-Day landings and World War II through a narrative of a young girl speaking with an elderly neighbor named Lena, who is about to move away. Like many real Canadians, the young girl in this story learns about the battle of D-Day and the history of World War II from elderly people in the community that either fought directly in the war or were alive during that time period. As I am writing this, Remembrance Day is approaching, and I cannot help but be reminded through this story that World War II and all of its horrors really did not happen a long time ago. Lena tells the girl, and through a frame narrative, the reader, about what she remembers of that fateful day, June 5th, 1944; as Lena learns about the battle so does the reader….

DriverWorks Ink / 22 June 2018

Possessions: Their Role in Anger, Greed, Envy, Jealousy, and Death by Boris W. Kishchuk Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $19.95 ISBN 978-1-927570-42-5 I love games: card, word, trivia, etc., and I’ve usually been fortunate to have someone in my circle who also enjoys a friendly but spirited competition. Why share that in a review of Saskatoon writer Boris W. Kishchuk’s latest nonfiction title, Possessions: Their Role in Anger, Greed, Envy, Jealousy, and Death? Read on. In the preface to this exquisitely-researched book Kishchuk writes that he’s wondered “why people kill each other,” and he wins my attention. This text examines “the psychology of possession”. The author investigates our desire to possess from myriad angles, including religious and economic reasons, and presents numerous diverse examples of how the human penchant for possessing has led to crime, brutality, murder and war. At the end of this page-turner Kishchuk reveals that his original title idea was The Curse of Possessions. He could have called it Read This and Never Lose at “Jeopardy” Again! Kishchuk’s previous titles demonstrate his eclectic range of interests: Long Term Care in Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Crown Corporations, and Connecting with Ukraine. Possessions is “more reflective in…

Dear Me: The Widow Letters
DriverWorks Ink / 13 June 2018

Dear Me: The Widow Letters Compiled by Dianne Young Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Keith Foster $14.95            ISBN 978-1-927570-43-2 Only those who’ve experienced the loss of a spouse can know the intense emotional feelings of that bereavement. In Dear Me: The Widow Letters, Dianne Young compiles the feelings of twenty widows, including herself, in a series of letters written several years after the death of their spouse. Each widow writes a letter addressed to herself as she was in the immediate aftermath of her loss. It’s as if each is going back in time to give the advice and consolation she wishes she’d had. These widows of varying ages live across Canada and one in the United States; thirteen are from Saskatchewan. Some marriages were long-term – sixty-four years for one couple – others short, barely beyond the honeymoon stage for another couple. Each widow explores her feelings as she goes through the various phases of the grieving process. Everyone experiences grief differently, yet all share some of the same traits. Feelings of guilt and anger are normal. So is crying, even at the most unexpected times, like at a checkout line or going through the car wash. Others…

Fun on the Farm Too
DriverWorks Ink / 8 March 2018

Fun on the Farm Too Compiled and edited by Deana J. Driver Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Michelle Shaw $15.95 ISBN 978192757037-1 If you loved Fun on the Farm: True Tales of Farm Life, then you’re in for a treat. The sequel Fun on the Farm Too is packed with 40 more hilarious and memorable stories and poems about life on a farm on the Canadian prairies. Once again there are stories about strange happenings in outhouses, stubborn sheep, terrifying turkeys, alarming stories of pigs and chickens and the inevitable antics that arise from growing up on a farm. Theodore Mikolayenko tells the story of how he decided to become a self-appointed goose flight coordinator, we find out what made mild-mannered Agnes finally blow her cool, and we discover the recipe for perfect mud pies (hint, it involves a fresh egg!). There will also be a trip down memory lane for many readers with June Hudy’s story about party lines (a forerunner of social media for those who are too young to remember this staple of rural life) which allowed the entire community to keep up to date on their neighbors’ personal lives. I particularly loved Carrie Ann Schemenauer’s…

Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather
DriverWorks Ink / 2 February 2018

Skye Bird and Eagle Feather by Mary Harelkin Bishop Published by Emmbee Ink and DriverWorks Ink Review by Michelle Shaw $13.95 ISBN 978-192757039-5 Every time I read one of Mary Harelkin Bishop’s books I learn something new. As a relative newcomer to Canada and Saskatchewan, I’ve heard the words, “We recognize that we are standing on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis…” many times without really knowing what that meant. Now, thanks to Bishop’s latest book, Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather, I have a vivid picture in my mind. Bishop’s new book introduces us to Skye Bird, a Grade 6 student starting the new school year in a “big, shiny, new school across town”. Her old school, a local school which has recently closed, was “warm and inviting”. Although it was small, it was a vibrant community where different cultures were celebrated and shared. But Skye’s new school seems nothing like that and she feels very lost and out of place. Her little sister Cheyenne can’t find her special books in the school library and when Skye asks the librarian where to find books about Cree people or the Métis, she’s told that they don’t have…

My Soul Still Dances
DriverWorks Ink / 26 October 2017

My Soul Still Dances: Living with Parkinson’s by Sister Adelaide Fortowsky, with Sister Rosetta Reiniger Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Keith Foster $19.95 ISBN 978-1-927570-38-8 No one can ever know the pain inflicted by Parkinson’s disease – unless they’ve experienced it. Sister Adelaide Fortowsky, an Ursuline Sister, lived with this disease for more than twenty years and wrote about her ordeal in a diary. Published as My Soul Still Dances: Living with Parkinson’s, she records the progress of the disease as she slowly deteriorates. Born Bertha Fortowsky in 1930 on the family farm near Cavell, SK, she was so frail at birth that a midwife, fearing the newborn wouldn’t live, baptized her. She joined the Order of St. Ursuline in 1950, taking the name Sister Adelaide, and made her final vows in 1956. After teaching elementary school in Saskatchewan villages and towns for twenty-nine years, she joined the staff at St. Angela’s Academy, an all-girls high school with live-in students, at Prelate, SK. She taught until 2003, when her Parkinson’s affliction became severe. This is not an easy read. Parkinson’s has no known cause or cure. When “normal” activities were no longer normal, Sister Adelaide felt trapped in her…

DriverWorks Ink / 24 August 2017

Rescued by Janice Howden Reviewed by Michelle Shaw $13.95 ISBN 978192757031-9 Rescued is a deceptively simple book that works on many levels. On the surface, it’s a story about Hawkeye and his brother Freddie, two abandoned Tibetan Terriers, and their search to find a “Forever Home”. Underlying the story is the true account of author Janice Howden’s adoption of her rescue dog Rahj from the Saskatoon SPCA. Janice has been a long-time supporter of the Saskatchewan SPCA. For many years her husband Lloyd worked as an animal protection officer for the organization and she’s heard lots of stories over the years, both good and bad. So when she decided to adopt a dog it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. She first drew up a checklist to make sure she chose a dog that would suit their family. For one thing, she knew she wanted a dog that didn’t require long runs at dawn. “Not my lifestyle,” she says firmly. “I wanted a smaller dog, one with whom I could enjoy cuddles on the sofa while I watched TV or read.” After months of checking the SPCA website, Janice found two Tibetan Terriers who were about six months old…

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…