Stories from the Churchill
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 22 December 2021

Stories from the ChurchillWritten by Ric Driediger, with Illustrations by Paul MasonPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$24.95 ISBN 9-781988-783727 Ric Driediger’s positively reverent when he writes about the beauty and challenges inherent in canoeing Saskatchewan’s vast northern waterways. The owner/operator of Churchill River Canoe Outfitters in Missinipe, SK may already be known to readers—and fellow canoeists—through his first book, Paddling Northern Saskatchewan: A Guide to 80 Canoe Routes. Now this knowledgeable paddler has penned Stories from the Churchill, and he describes it as “the book [he] wanted to write” whereas the earlier book was the one he “needed” to write. There’s a difference. What comes through the page is that Driediger’s doing exactly what he was meant to, both professionally and personally, and he knows just how fortunate he is. Even if you never intend to canoe across a morning-calm lake, brave big-lake wind and river rapids, portage through “swampy muskeg,” lose yourself in the boreal wilderness, “go solo” (“a spiritual experience”), or winter camp, this book will inform and entertain you. It’s well-written in a conversational tone, and includes anecdotes from Driediger’s own adventures and stories from his clients’ and staff’s experiences, too. Driediger’s a…

Sixty and Beyond
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 22 December 2021

Sixty and Beyond: Looking Forward – Looking Backby Alison R. MontgomeryPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Michelle Shaw$14.95 ISBN 978-1-988783734 When contemplating her retirement, Alison Montgomery’s mother gave her some wise advice: “Travelling, going to the lake, walking the dog and working out are what you do on a vacation. Retirement lasts a long time, and you would be wise to find some form of purposeful work.” Alison took that to heart. After retiring as a high school art teacher, she decided to study further and become involved in adult education. These days she also continues to enjoy her passion as a landscape artist, plays the flute and piccolo in various community ensembles and enjoys a newfound delight for paddle boarding. Sixty and Beyond is a reflection of Alison’s life — past, present and future. As she puts it: “The great thing about this stage of life is that you get to reflect on what has worked well for you so far and what has not and decide if you will keep it or throw it.” This is Alison’s third book. In 2001 her life came to a grinding halt when her son Chris died in a climbing accident….

Adventures on the Circle Star Ranch
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 17 November 2021

Adventures on the Circle Star RanchWritten by Jackie Cameron, Illustrated by Wendi NordellPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$14.95 ISBN 9-781988-783703 As a resident of Vancouver Island, it was a strange synchronicity that I happened to be on the TransCanada near Swift Current as I finished reading the final chapters of Adventures on the Circle Star Ranch. This lively illustrated novel for young readers is set in that very area, and writer Jackie Cameron—whose family “had horses and raised beef cattle”—also lives nearby. While I shared the adventures of Ben (nine), Sarah (eleven) and their “fearless dog, Scruffy” aloud, my partner steered us between golden pastures, where the deer and antelope were indeed playing, and “dusty country road[s]”and “sagebrush” were plentiful. So cool. This 60-page ranch-family story is divided into short chapters, and the age-appropriate language— Cameron’s a retired librarian/school division resource professional-turned-author­—ensures that juvenile readers won’t struggle as the realistic plot (including a cattle rustling mystery) unfolds. The siblings argue as siblings do, ie: Sarah says, “Mom, make him stop!” after Ben threatens to tell the story about Sarah learning to play the bagpipes: when she played the cows came running toward the house because, as…

1-Dogpower Garden Team, The
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 10 November 2021

The 1-Dogpower Garden TeamWritten by Alison Lohans, Illustrated by Gretchen EhrsamPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$14.95 ISBN 9-781988-783710 The 1-Dogpower Garden Team—the latest book by multi-genre author Alison Lohans—is a collaborative effort, and well worth the read. I’ve not read every book in this talented Regina writer’s veritable library of titles—28 books, which include YA and adult novels and illustrated children’s books—but the several I have read demonstrate that this is a veteran writer who pays close attention to craft and delivers meaningful, heart-filled literature each time she puts her pen to page. Now Lohans has teamed with illustrator Gretchen Ehrsam on a unique illustrated children’s story about a girl (Sophie) and her hole-digging dog (Max), and how a common canine problem transitions into a child’s brilliant solution. What strikes me first and foremost is how different this story is—Lohans’ innovative use of language and humour and Ehrsam’s detailed, black and white prints (surrounded by a moss green border) coalesce so effectively, after I’d read the book the first time I immediately wanted to read—and admire—it again. Upon my second reading, I deduced that part of the magic is Lohans’ use of both simple sentences, which…

Wake Up, Jacob!
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 3 November 2021

Wake Up, Jacob!by Neil SawatzkyPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$14.95 ISBN 9-781988-783451 I’m a huge fan of collaborating with family members on creative projects, thus was delighted to read that Neil Sawatzky—the author of the new illustrated children’s book Wake Up, Jacob!—is the father of Heather Nickel, who owns and operates Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing, and is responsible for bringing hundreds of books into the world. This father-daughter team has produced a heartfelt softcover that “parallel[s] the daily activities of a young boy and his grandfather,” and to even further extend the familial connection, Sawatzky’s dedicated the book to his own father, and a photograph of the author and his two grandchildren reading a book together appears inside the back cover. Here’s the truth: I had a lump in my throat after reading just two pages of this brightly-sketched story. On page one we find young Jacob’s mother rousing him from sleep in his bed, and on the opposite page, a healthcare aide in a seniors’ facility is similarly waking the same-named elder. Child Jacob—in green pajamas, and with his wide-eyed teddy bear nearby—stretches simultaneously with his white-moustached grandpa on the facing page. The story continues…

Let’s Fly!
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 2 September 2021

Let’s Fly!: A Dragon’s Quest in SaskatoonWritten by Kathie Cram, Illustrated by Kas ReaPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$14.95 ISBN 9-781988-783697 Writer Kathie Cram and her illustrator Kas Rea have crafted a new book that celebrates Saskatoon through the adventures of two unlikely – and likeable – new friends, an inquisitive chickadee and a hopeful baby dragon. From the first page I surmised that the playful language in this book – “a very small bird found a very strange egg. Suddenly, it jiggled and wiggled and crackled and cracked” – would appeal to young ears. Cram’s a multi-genre Saskatoon writer who’s previously published adult fantasy and nonfiction, and she’s now working on a novel. Rea also lives in Saskatoon, where she’s a Bachelor of Fine Arts student at the University of Saskatchewan. Using the tried-and-true children’s text formula of repetition, Cram has her friendly pair meeting other creatures as Red, the dragon, searches with Little Bird for the former’s family. The flying dragon soars above Saskatoon with the bird on her back, and the two make stops at popular Saskatoon landmarks, like Wanuskewin Heritage Park. The first landing’s bumpy. “‘Sorry. I am new to flying,’” Red…

Bee A Friend

Bee a FriendWritten by Kerry Sather, Illustrated by David MarkPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$19.95 ISBN 9-781988-783673 Saskatchewan’s seen a veritable hive of activity in children’s book publishing this summer – I’ve reviewed four titles – and one fun-filled book that’s joined the shelves is the illustrated hardcover Bee A Friend, penned by Kerry Sather and illustrated by David Mark, both of Nokomis. Ten years ago Sather released the award-winning Bee Yourself, which focused on self-esteem, and this new release “investigates the meaning of friendship” through a successful confluence of simple words and stylish illustrations. Dedicated to the author’s grandchildren and other “little friends,” this rhyming, will-you-be-my-friend? tale features green-dominant illustrations with cartoon-style creatures – the narrator is a gregarious bumblebee – and four lines of text on each page. There’s also a tiny, witty fly flitting across the pages: its cryptic lines – ie: “This is too much!” – deliver an amusing commentary on the Bee’s persistent search for new pals in the garden once “The snow has melted and spring is here”. The expressive bee’s first potential friend is a red ant, comically portrayed in an army helmet. (The fly’s two bits: “Sir, yes,…

Ride, Gabe, Ride

Ride, Gabe, RideWritten by Wilfred Burton, Illustrated by Lucille ScottPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$14.95 ISBN 9-781988-783680 Got to love it when a writer takes a compelling historical event and transforms it into an illustrated children’s book that will both educate and entertain young readers. That’s exactly what award-winning Saskatchewan Métis author and storyteller Wilfred Burton has done– along with illustrator, Lucille Scott – in Ride, Gabe, Ride, a new softcover published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing that tells the story of legendary Métis leader Gabriel Dumont and a particularly amazing buffalo hunt. The tale begins with a brief biography, explaining that Dumont (b. 1837) “fought for Métis rights in two resistances,” and “could negotiate in seven languages, was a superb buffalo hunter, and even performed with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.” The anecdote that inspired this book is based on “an incredible hunting story” Dumont relayed to Archie Brown, who wrote about it in his 1927 memoir. There’s much to recommend in this rhyming adaptation. Firstly, there’s adventure: Dumont and “the people of Bois de Fleche” prepare for the dangerous hunt – a blessing from “the black-robed priest” is included – and with horses and…

How’s Peanut?

How’s Peanut?by Brenda Redman, Illustrated by Wendy NordellPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Michelle ShawISBN 9781988783666 $14.95 Trying to explain complex concepts to children can be tricky. Explaining things in simple terms that they can understand and relate to can help to make the process a lot easier. In this fun children’s book author Brenda Redman has done just that. When Brenda’s daughter told her she was pregnant, she was ecstatic. The baby was nicknamed “Peanut”, and Brenda excitedly received regular updates from her daughter about how the baby was growing. After “Peanut” was born, Brenda was inspired to write a children’s story which her children encouraged her to publish. And so, How’s Peanut? was born. The book tells the story of a grandmother-to-be regularly getting updates from her daughter about how the pregnancy is progressing. The baby grows from the size of a peanut, to the size of a plum, to an avocado and slowly progresses to the size of a watermelon. Each stage is also described in terms of development. For example, “The baby is now 24 weeks old and is the size of a cob of corn. The baby can also hear my voice when I…

I will always love you…no matter what!

I will always love you…no matter what!Written by Lee Murray and Kori UpshallIllustrated by Emily JohnsonPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Michelle Shaw$14.95 ISBN 9781988783659 Children love asking questions and even a seemingly simple question can hide layers of emotion. This colorful soft-covered book is written by a grandmother and her granddaughter and is based on a true experience. A few years ago, four-year-old Kori was on a quest to find out how much her grandmother loved her. She kept asking her grandmother continually outlandish questions to try to find something – anything –that would make her grandmother stop loving her. The scenarios in the book are gloriously over-the-top. The little girl broke her grandmother’s mirror, for instance, by crashing a plane into it, and she broke her grandmother’s dishes by ripping off the table cloth while her grandmother was having tea with the queen. The book is beautifully and hilariously illustrated by Saskatoon-based visual artist Emily Johnson. I loved the fact that the little girl’s dog (apparently based on Kori’s real-life dog Bryson) also makes an appearance in each scenario…playing the piano and driving the plane. Johnson has captured lots of humorous moments like these that will…