Little Plains Cree Book for Children, A

“nēhiyawēwin awāsi-masinahikanis: A Little Plains Cree Book for Children: A Reference for Teaching the Plains Cree Language”by Patricia Deiter, Allen J. (A.J.) Felix and Elmer BallantynePlains Cree Translations by Elmer Ballantyne, Inez Deiter, May Desnomie, Allen J. (A.J.) Felix and Joslyn WuttuneePublished by YNWPReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$74.95 ISBN 9781778690044 I recently reviewed awāsi-nēhiyawēwin masinahikanis: A Little Plains Cree Colouring Book—Plains Cree People, by Saskatchewan’s Patricia Deiter, Allen J. (A.J.) Felix, and Elmer Ballantyne. The colouring book complements the learned trio’s reference guide for teaching the Plains Cree language, nēhiyawēwin awāsi-masinahikanis—A Little Plains Cree Book for Children, which I have also now read and learned from. “Plains Cree is spoken in 43 First Nations communities in Saskatchewan alone,” and the authors hope is that they, “as Plains Cree people, will still have [their] language for [their] future generations”. In her opening acknowledgements, Deiter (White Buffalo Woman)—a “non-fluent Plains Cree speaker” and English teacher—extends gratitude to the six Elders who “provided the majority of Plains Cree translations” for the reference guide, including her mother, Inez Deiter, “who provides ongoing support for [her daughter’s] efforts to restore the Cree language to our youth”. The reference book follows the themes established in the…

Little Plains Cree Colouring Book, A

awāsi-nēhiyawēwin masinahikanis: A Little Plains Cree Colouring Book—Plains Cree Peopleby Patricia Deiter, Allen J. (A.J.) Felix, and Elmer BallantyneIllustrated by Aleigha AgecoutayPublished by YNWPReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$24.95 ISBN 9781778690136 It’s been said that when a language dies, a culture goes with it. In Canada several Indigenous languages are in fact endangered, but the one I grew up hearing in northern Saskatchewan—Cree—remains one of the most widely spoken Indigenous languages in the country. Still, it’s important to continue teaching it so Cree youth can connect with their ancestors, their history, and cultural traditions. I’ll add that it’s also a fine idea for anyone who lives in northern communities to learn at least a few words of Cree; my parents took classes because they lived alongside and worked with Plains Cree people. I picked up a small vocabulary, as well, mostly from friends who lived on Flying Dust First Nation. I’m glad that there are educators, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers who continue to find creative ways to make learning Plains Cree fun for children. Patricia Deiter, Allen J. (A.J.) Felix, and Elmer Ballantyne, the three Saskatchewan writers of awāsi-nēhiyawēwin masinahikanis: A Little Plains Cree Colouring Book—Plains Cree People, have done just…

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…

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…

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…

Tyler Evans the Great
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 24 January 2024

Tyler Evans the Greatby Alison LohansPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Miriam Körner$ 19.95 ISBN 9781778690228 What does it mean to be a hero? I have no doubt that everyone has a slightly different definition. If you were to ask Tyler Evans in Alison Lohans’ newest chapter book Tyler Evans the Great, he would tell you what a hero is not: A hero doesn’t let the school bullies take his cookie away. A hero doesn’t lose a shoe when he kicks a ball. And a hero doesn’t get his hair ruffled, especially not by his mom. Could Tyler ever be a hero? Told through the eyes of the young protagonist, this book explores a child’s longing to be a hero for the people (and animals) that mean most to him in his young life: his brother, his single mom, his friends and schoolmates, his dogs and even the robin and caterpillars in his backyard. Tyler tries hard to be a hero, but either he isn’t quick enough and someone else has already stolen the part or his attempts backfire. To make matters worse, his older brother Matt doesn’t let Tyler play video games with him and calls him a…

Colour Me Saskatchewan
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 12 December 2023

Colour Me Saskatchewan – A Colouring Book For Kids and Adults Alikeby Maria DaghPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Miriam Körner$ 24.95 ISBN 9781778690242 Being a children’s writer and illustrator myself, I always love coming across books illustrated by Saskatchewan artists. Colour Me Saskatchewan is no exception. Maria Dagh’s illustrations are animated and fun-filled. The joy is written on the faces of her big-eyed children’s characters as they explore the cities, parks and tourist attractions that Saskatchewan has to offer. Dedicated to her daughters Freya and Saga, this colouring book takes readers across the province from the Legislative Building in Regina to Saskatchewan’s 100,000 lakes and waterways. Smiling children engage in kid’s play throughout the seasons from building a snowman or playing on purple sand beaches in Candle Lake. With the same joy, the children in this book also drive tractors, fly crop dusters and oversee a potash mine informing readers about the economic principles of this province. Colouring pages with swaying cattails and dancing dragonflies, smiling saskatoon berries, perching burrowing owls and large-footed lynx pay homage to the natural world of this province. Short one to two sentence fun facts accompany each of the colouring pages in the…

My List, My Rules
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 14 November 2023

My List, My Rules: The Year A Checklist Changed My Lifeby Angie CouniosPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Toby A. Welch  $29.95 ISBN  9781778690211 Holy smokes – I don’t think I’ve read a memoir more exposed and vulnerable than this one. Usually books in that genre feel a tad curated to me, which takes away from the authenticity you want in a memoir. But not this one. Counios laid it all out there for us and it is magnificent! The layout of this book is genius. I incorrectly assumed that since Counios was going to do 101 things in 365 days, she would just list them and tell us how she tackled each one. Wrong! The 365 days weren’t a calendar year, they were one birthday to the next. So the book is categorized into months, starting with her birthday month: November. I loved that she laid out the book that way as it flowed perfectly with each month having eight or nine random items from her list. (For those of you who like seeing the list in numerical order, you can find that at the back of the book.) This is catalogued as a memoir but it could also be considered a…

Cathedral of Stars
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 1 September 2023

Cathedral of Stars: A Memoir of Home & Faith on the Moveby Gloria EngelPublished by YNWPReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$24.95 ISBN 9781988783901 Cathedral of Stars: A Memoir of Home & Faith on the Move by SK-born Gloria Engel is utterly fascinating. The stories about her peripatetic life—and constant faith—as a linguist with Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics is indeed hard to put down. The intrepid author asks and adeptly answers this question: “How can you find a sense of belonging in home and church when you’re constantly on the move?” Much of this global zinger of a book takes place in Guatemala, and Engel paints a colourful portrait of the family’s authentic experiences there. Now in her eighties, the joy-filled wife, mother of four boys, linguist, writer and dancer (a verboten activity re: her strict Lutheran upbringing) experienced “forty-five changes of residence in five countries,” before settling in Biggar, SK. The anecdotes about her resourceful family and rural SK upbringing (no indoor plumbing; folks said her father “could hold machinery together with macaroni”) are compelling, but the Guatemalan accounts left me gasping. First came linguistics training at the University of North Dakota. Orientation sessions took place…

My Daughter’s Heart
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 1 September 2023

My Daughter’s Heartby Kim JaskenPublished by Your Nickle’s Worth PublishingReview by Michelle Shaw$24.95 ISBN 9781778690167 Spring of 2020 was a strange and frightening time for everyone. For the Jasken family, the uncertainty of the early days of the pandemic were exacerbated when their eleven-year-old daughter suddenly collapsed, and they discovered the cause was heart failure. Dealing with a desperately ill child in a world where everything has changed brings a new level of fear. Sierra was initially treated at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) but was soon transferred by plane to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton for more specialized care. Kim Jasken’s account of their family’s experience is detailed and absorbing. Her sometimes wry descriptions allow you to live through the exultant highs as well as the moments of utter despair when it all seems too much. She describes each situation so clearly that you ride the emotional roller coaster with her. I related to the story on two levels. On the one hand it’s a harrowing story of a family’s health crisis. But it’s also a specific moment in time in Saskatoon. I could relate to the school closures, stocking up…