Steeps of Time, The
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 6 December 2018

The Steeps of Time: Poems & Paintings by Victor Carl Friesen Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Reviewed by Ben Charles $25.00 ISBN 9781988783222 The Steeps of Time: Poems & Paintings is the latest publication from legendary Saskatchewan poet Victor Carl Friesen and his fourth collection of poems and accompanying paintings, both of which produce warm, nostalgic, and detailed recollections of the beautiful nature found in Saskatchewan and of life on the farm. Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing, this riveting collection of fifty-five poems is separated into two portions that each illustrate different themes in the author’s life. The first section, titled “A Burgeoning”, is comprised mainly of descriptive, traditional poetry that, as mentioned, describes natural phenomenon and rural life in Saskatchewan. The latter section, titled “The World Illuminated”, is far more abstract and delves into the emotions, opinions, and outlooks on life of the author. In both segments Friesen showcases his uncanny descriptive abilities that immediately transport the reader to the bountiful natural beauty found in Saskatchewan. While reading such poems as “A Leaf in the Wind” or “Spring’s Regalia”, I was reminded of times being out in the fields while hiking or hunting, appreciating the beauty of…

Jessie the Doo-Doo Dog Goes to the Vet
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 7 November 2018

Jessie the Doo-Doo Dog Goes to the Vet by Bill and Jocelyn Hutchinson Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Amanda Zimmerman $14.95 ISBN 978-1-988783-31-4 Ever wonder what ideas run through a dog’s head during the course of a day? Do they use the words we do or make up their own? What troubles do they have? Get ready for a tail of adventure starring Jessie, her sister Jo-Jo, and their bigger cousins Katcha and Krissy as they get up to all sorts of neighbourhood highjinks in Jessie and the Doo-Doo Dog Goes to the Vet. In this first book of the series, proudly Canadian husband and wife team, Bill and Jocelyn Hutchinson, leave their politically oriented jobs behind to delve into a wonderfully simple canine world. Jessie is our main Maltipoo and it is through her curious nature and enthusiasm readers are shown how an animal might see a human’s everyday actions. Jessie takes her house dog duties very seriously- with licking Mom awake, going for walks around the neighbourhood, guarding the yard from other furry intruders, and enjoying morning supper to name a few. Her head is always full of doggy questions that she struggles to find…

Ladder Valley

Ladder Valley by Donna Miller Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Keith Foster $21.95 ISBN 978-1-988783-24-6 Based on her life story, Donna Miller’s Ladder Valley reads more like a psychological thriller than a memoir. Her first-person narrative smashes through raw emotions like a chainsaw shredding flesh. This is Miller’s fourth book in a series called Help Me; I’m Naked. Examining mother-daughter relationships, her hard-hitting look at domestic violence shows how abuse affects three generations of women as it trickles down from mother to daughter to granddaughter. To protect their privacy, Miller changes her name and those of her children. She becomes Korel, and her children are Angie, Sonya, Sapphire, and Kennalyn. They’re living near Big River, an isolated area on the edge of Saskatchewan’s boreal forest, in 1979-1980. Due to a curse by her great-grandmother, all of Korel’s relationships, and those of her mother, turn out badly. Listening to her mother describe being raped at age six, Korel finds herself “slipping into a pit, an ugly black abyss of compassion juxtaposed with anger” and contempt, creating a ghetto in her soul. An only child whose father molested her, Korel fled an unhappy marriage with her four daughters, then…

My Buddy, Dido!

My Buddy, Dido! by Marion Mutala Published by Your Nickle’s Worth Publishing Review by Amanda Zimmerman $14.95 ISBN 978-1-988783-23-9 Grandfathers are amazing people. Whether they play games, tell jokes, read stories, or simply snuggle their grandchildren, they are always sharing their love. In this delightful picture book, Marion Mutala reminds us why grandpas are such exceptional family members. My Buddy, Dido! is her 10th book, following her celebration of grandmothers in More Baba’s Please! With her background in Ukrainian children’s tales (her Baba’s Babushka series are award-winning), she has a great grasp of the fundamentals, introducing readers to Dido, the Ukrainian grandfather. Before the tale even starts, a full page graphic showcases ‘grandpa’ in other languages with bright, bold colours. As for presenting a new term, Dido is so casually included in the pages that both children and parents alike will believe they’ve always known it. There is only one other word in the tongue- Holushki– and, flipping to the back, a recipe for the soup awaits. Marion also strays from the regular story format, choosing instead to go over a Dido’s characteristics in rhyming verses: “Who listens to me when I’m mad? Who consoles me when I’m sad? Who…

I Tumble Through the Diamond Dust

I Tumble Through the Diamond Dust Written by Edward Willett, Illustrated by Wendi Nordell Published by YNWP Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $19.95 ISBN 9-781988-783178 Prolific Regina writer Edward Willett took a great idea and ran with it, and the result is his first collection of poems, I Tumble Through the Diamond Dust, a collection of twenty-one fantastical poems with illustrations by his niece, Albertan Wendi Nordell. That initial great idea? It began with former SK Poet Laureate Gerald Hill’s 2016 “first lines” project, in which he e-mailed the first two lines from poems by two SK writers each week day in April and invited all Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild members to use them as springboards for new poems. Willett embraced the challenge, and the result is this creative, entertaining, and occasionally spine-tingling collection of poems that no one but Willett – well-known for authoring sixty books, including twenty science fiction and fantasy novels – could pull off. Willett claims a life-long love affair with poetry, but admits he’s not known as a poet. The man is a story-teller, through and through, thus it’s not surprising that each of these poems tells a miniature story, many with an apocalyptic or space-based…

You Can Count on the Prairies

You Can Count on the Prairies Text and photos by Leila J. Olfert Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $12.95 ISBN 978-1-988783-11-6 I’ve been reviewing books in various genres for the last few decades, and I can say without reservation that You Can Count on the Prairies, the hot-off-the-press illustrated, children’s counting book by Leila J. Olfert, has been my quickest read yet. What can one say about a twenty-nine page book that contains only seventeen words, and sixteen numbers? Well, as it turns out, rather a lot. Olfert, a former preschool teacher and avid textile artist and photographer, has taken a prairie icon – the grain storage bin – and used it as the central image in this finely-produced SK-based book for youngsters. Beginning with zero, the first page features a close-up photograph of golden grain stalks against a blurred field and sky backdrop. The next page reveals a single grain bin, as perfectly round and centred on the page as the field surrounding it is flat. Four birds are perched at the top, where an auger would pour the grain in. As the numbers on each page climb, so do the number of…

When The Trees Crackle with Cold Activity Book

When the Trees Crackle with Cold: A Cree Seasons Activity Book By Bernice Johnson-Laxdal and Miriam Körner Review by Michelle Shaw Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing $12.95 ISBN 9781988783161 Created as a companion activity book to the award-winning When the Trees Crackle with Cold: A Cree Calendar, this book could equally stand alone as a wonderful introduction to the Cree language and culture for readers of all ages. The first book by co-authors Bernice Johnson-Laxdal and Miriam Körner was a beautifully illustrated narrative of Bernice’s Cree childhood in northern Saskatchewan. The narrative of their book is based around the Cree calendar, which consists of six seasons divided into twelve moons, and Bernice’s family’s activities associated with each moon. The activity book follows the same format with simple projects which deepen and complement the reader’s understanding of each of the activities described in the first book. Each page is black and white with a full-page illustration on one of the facing pages. Activities include making your own toy dog team, creating your very own geese flying in a V-formation, growing your own tomato plants, and even instructions on how to make your own moose call. There are also word searches…

Wolfe in Shepherd’s Clothing

Wolfe in Shepherd’s Clothing By Angie Counios and David Gane Review by Michelle Shaw Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing $19.95 9781988783130 Regina’s death toll is once again on the rise as Angie Counios and David Gane launch their third Shepherd and Wolfe mystery, Wolfe in Shepherd’s Clothing. Tony and Charlie are now in Grade 12 and still recovering emotionally and physically after the dramatic events of the summer (see Shepherd’s Watch). But a serial killer is roaming the Queen City murdering and dismembering his victims; and even though Tony’s parents warn the boys not to get involved in any more mysteries, they can’t resist investigating. Detective Gekas, herself still recovering from the previous summer’s adventures, is put in charge of the serial killer murders. As the boys investigate, the killings come heartbreakingly close to home, and Tony is guilt-stricken to think that their actions may be responsible for the killer’s latest choice of victim. Although the story is satisfyingly wrapped up, the final chapter of the book ends on a cliffhanger. Which means that once again I will be waiting very impatiently for the next book in the series! This book is thicker and slightly darker in tone than…

Journey to Joy

Journey to Joy by Christalee Froese Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Keith Foster $24.95 ISBN 978-1-988783-12-3 “I’ve always wanted to keep everything, do everything and be everything,” Christalee Froese explains in her book, Journey to Joy: The Transformation of a Life . . . 21 Days at a Time. This excessive weight of taking on too much lands her in a psych ward where, as she puts it, she models hospital gowns – the ones that don’t fasten up in the back. While there, she has an epiphany. Upon her release, Froese spends twenty-one consecutive days focusing on one goal, to find joy in what she does. She then spends twenty-one days of each succeeding month focusing on a new goal, like peace, faith, relaxation, travel. She tries her own versions of yoga poses, such as the Wobbly Flamingo and the Awkward Elephant. When her goal focuses on pets, she cares for five fluffy newborn kittens which she repeatedly assures readers she’s not getting attached to. Froese is supported in her recovery by her husband Lewis and young son Logan, as well as by neighbours and professionals. After a miscarriage and unable to conceive another child, she…

When The Trees Crackle With Cold: A Cree Calendar

When the Trees Crackle with Cold: A Cree Calendar By Bernice Johnson-Laxdal and Miriam Körner Review by Michelle Shaw Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing $12.95 9781927756935 Winner of the recent Saskatchewan Book Awards Children’s Literature Award, When the Trees Crackle with Cold: A Cree Calendar is a beautifully written and illustrated narrative of the author’s Cree childhood in northern Saskatchewan. Bernice Johnson-Laxdal comes from a large family of 14 children and grew up in the predominantly Métis community of Ile-a-la-Crosse, which is situated along one of Western Canada’s major fur trade routes. From an early age Bernice was involved in her family’s traditional activities: gathering, growing and preparing food, hunting, trapping and making clothing. Most of these activities were (and still are) dependent on the seasons of the year. The book beautifully combines story and image with Körner’s playful watercolors skillfully enhancing the simple word pictures. The narrative is based around the Cree calendar which consists of six seasons divided into twelve moons, which reflect the traditional knowledge of the natural cycle. I found the concept so much more enriching for my soul than the traditional Western calendar! I loved the way each of the 12 moons reflects the…