Time to Fly!
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 3 February 2021

Time to FlyWritten and Illustrated by Valerie WiebePublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Michelle Shaw$24.95 ISBN 9781988783642 This beautiful hardcover book invites children of all ages to dream, to explore and discover how they fit into the world around them. Author and illustrator Valerie Wiebe, who lives and works on a farm outside Langham, Saskatchewan, is a multitalented artist who has used her paintings as her inspiration for the text. While younger children will be captivated by the bright colors and the rhythmic language, I think the book will be especially inviting to slightly older children who will be able to engage with the pictures and allow their imaginations to explore the possibilities in each painting. The book has also been suggested as an excellent gift for anyone beginning a new venture, including graduation. I felt the drawings were almost like a blank canvas that gave my imagination freedom to dream and discover. Wiebe says the paintings in the book are intimate works that “require us to look close, to investigate the details, to observe the tiny figures.” She is clearly captivated by the Prairies. “Standing in the rural landscape in which I live, I find myself feeling both…

If These Places Could Talk

If These Places Could Talk: Snapshots of Saskatchewanby Crista Bradley, with artwork by Wendi NordellPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Keith Foster$19.95          ISBN 978-1-988783-59-8 You’re never too young, or too old, to learn and explore. Crista Bradley’s book, If These Places Could Talk: Snapshots of Saskatchewan, enables young readers and adults to do both. Although technically a children’s book geared for ages five to ten, If These Places Could Talk will definitely appeal to adults as well. It’s perhaps of even more interest to adults than to children. Creating a multi-generational book is no small feat. This book is ideal for grandparents to read to their young ones. It will not only delight children, but grandparents can take a trip down nostalgia lane, supplementing Bradley’s text with their own memories of growing up in Saskatchewan. The text, photos, and Wendi Nordell’s illustrations will undoubtedly trigger many memories. These forty-eight pages cover a lot of territory, depicting ninety-one places in Saskatchewan, and cover a variety of topics, from homes, offices, churches, schools, businesses, and recreation sites. A two-page map pinpoints where each site is located. Each photo or illustration is accompanied by a thumbnail text describing…

Baba’s Babushka Magical Ukrainian Adventures

Baba’s Babushka: Magical Ukrainian AdventuresWritten by Marion Mutala, Illustrated by Amber Rees, Wendy Siemens, Olha TkachenkoPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$39.95  ISBN 9-781988-783611 Before one reads a single word of Baba’s Babushka, it’s evident that this  illustrated children’s book is far beyond the ordinary. The 175-page hardcover emanates quality, from the phenomenal production – including colourful, full-page illustrations opposite the text pages, each bordered in a Ukrainian embroidery design – to the heft of the paper used, the contributions of three skilled illustrators, the inclusion of Ukrainian recipes, and a glossary for the numerous Ukrainian words used in the text. The package is highly impressive … and then there are the four heartwarming, connected tales Mutala spins within the book.  Saskatchewan’s Mutala is already known for her award-winning, Ukrainian-themed children’s books, including More Baba’s, Please! and My Dearest Dido: A Holodomor Story, but this latest publication – essentially four books in one – is her tour de force. In each magical story, young Natalia – who lives on a farm near Hafford, SK – is whisked into her ancestral past when her recently-departed and much-loved grandmother’s (Baba’s) colourful babushka (head scarf) materializes – via flowers, swirling…

Faces of the Force
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 2 December 2020

Faces of the Force: From Depot to Detachment – True Stories of C-1966/67 Troopby Helen Metella and Pamela CowanPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Toby A. Welch$19.95 ISBN 9781988783529 Faces of the Force: From Depot to Detachment – True Stories of C-1966/67 Troop contains the stories of 32 men from across Canada who gathered in Regina on June 10, 1966. They were all there to undergo a rigorous training regime to become RCMP officers. Fast forward to the troop’s 50-year reunion in Regina. The get-together inspired the group to record their stories, sharing how their lives have played out since they first met five decades earlier.  Enter Helen Metella and Pamela Cowan. Both former journalists, they compiled each individual story. They did a phenomenal job of evoking strong imagery with their words and encapsulating the men’s lives.  The first story belongs to Constable Tony Antoniuk, the C66/67 Troop’s drill instructor. That is followed by the story of Corporal Doug Farenholtz, the PT instructor for the 32 men. After that, we delve into the lives of each individual troop member.  When Senator Bev Busson wrote in the book’s forward that the stories were “gritty, told in real life language with…

Horse Lake Chronicles
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 27 October 2020

Horse Lake Chroniclesby Aldred NeufeldtPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Keith Foster$19.95 ISBN 978-1-988783-56-7 In his Horse Lake Chronicles, Aldred Neufeldt recalls growing up as a Mennonite youth in the 1940s on a farm in northern Saskatchewan. Located near Rosthern, the rural community was known as Horse Lake, even though, as Aldred explains, there was no lake by that name nearby. Horse Lake Chronicles provides a family history for Aldred’s descendants. For people too young to remember, it paints an accurate picture of what life was like in those early days; for those who lived through it, it’s a trip through nostalgia. With their farm surrounded by forest, Aldred’s parents, Henry and Agatha, built a log house. Following their Mennonite heritage, the family religiously observed Sunday as a day of rest and worship. One of the great sins they tried to avoid was pride. Aldred maintains that his family wasn’t poor; they just didn’t have any money. They made do with what they had. Being nimble with her foot-pedalled Singer sewing machine, Agatha made winter coats for Aldred and his younger brother Boyce. The boys looked dapper, and Agatha was pleased to display her handiwork. “Dad, for his part,…

Healthy Aging Naturally
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 16 October 2020

Healthy Aging Naturally: Proven Strategies for Disability-free Longevityby Felix Veloso, M.D.Published by YNWPReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$18.88 ISBN 9-781988-783604 The 2019 UN World Population Prospect report suggested that by 2050, 25% of the North American and European populations may be 65 or older. Clearly, now’s the time to address what an aging population will mean for society, and how those of us approaching our “golden years” can live happier and healthier lives as we age. University of Saskatchewan professor, author, and neurologist, Dr. Felix Veloso, brings more than 40 years of expertise to the subject, and I found his well-researched book, Healthy Aging Naturally: Proven Strategies for Disability-free Longevity, full of vital information and interesting statistics. Furthermore, he’s wisely structured his book with a conversational through-thread – between “Dr. Ferurojo” and patient “Anita Tykinlee” – so readers feel they are actually part of a story. Tykinlee asks the questions we might ask if we were in a doctor’s office, concerned about our own or an aging loved one’s health, and Ferurojo/Veloso does an exceptional job of answering her questions in an easy-to-understand, conversational style while also organically inserting the scientific facts – and quoting numerous studies from around the globe…

Serenity Unhinged
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 22 September 2020

Serenity Unhinged (a memoir)by Jim DugglebyPublished by YNWPReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$14.95 ISBN 9-781988-783574 As a writer myself, I’m always curious about other writers’ inspiration for their books. In his memoir Serenity Unhinged, Regina writer, editor and journalist Jim Duggleby mines the landscape of his own history – family, childhood, career – and his bright imagination for material, but the essays and articles in this fun read really owe their existence to a Regina writers’ workshop that took place between 2017 and 2019. The workshop, which included “fewer than a dozen people” at Regina’s Lifelong Learning Centre, was facilitated by Bob Juby and Ivan Millard, and was “loosely themed ‘As I Remember’”. Duggleby has a long history with and passion for the written word. The former Saskatoon Star-Phoenix reporter professes that he “can’t recall a time when [he] didn’t love writing” in various genres, from history to futurism, and his joy and wit translate into 21 entertaining stories in this recently-released softcover with YNWP. The author earns five stars for his captivating opening lines, ie: “Perhaps the most surprising thing about my mother’s death is that some people were saddened,” and “My father died twice.” (Interestingly, Duggleby’s pop was “the…

Chalk Dust

Chalk Dust: Memoirs of a Prairie Teacherby Dianne MillerPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Keith Foster$19.95 ISBN 978-1-988783-51-2 Dianne Miller’s Chalk Dust: Memoirs of a Prairie Teacher is a delightful read. Writing in a chatty conversational style, she not only relates her own stories but incorporates anecdotes of others as well, usually from their point of view. She has a passion for brilliant imagery and humour, and her prose is sprinkled with them. For more than thirty years, from 1970 to 2003, Miller taught a variety of grades in nine schools, primarily in Saskatoon, Yorkton, and Swift Current. She reviews her career as she rises through the ranks as student, teacher, vice-principal, principal, and administrator. One way Miller sets the context of her sixteen chapters is by describing the changing fashions of the times. In the early 1970s, for instance, styles varied from “Mini-skirts to shoulder pads to jeans. Platform heels to stilettos to Birkenstocks.” On her first day of teaching, Miller turned up in stacked heels, a shag hairdo, and hot pants. Miller describes the chaos on that first day when thirty-seven of her Grade 4 students lined up to sharpen their pencils. In trials like this, she…

I Know a Woman

I Know A Woman: A Song for Mothersby Sharon Gudereit, Illustrated by Miranda PringlePublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$14.95 ISBN 9-781988-783536 The colourfully-illustrated softcover, I Know A Woman: A Song for Mothers, is a grand example of creative collaboration, and a testament to the beauty of YNWP’s (Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing) titles. SK’s Sharon Gudereit and BC’s Miranda Pringle are teachers who exude artistic talent: Gudereit is a singer/songwriter and musician, and Pringle is the artist who brought what was originally Gudereit’s song to life on the page. The book is “A heartfelt tribute to the nurturing women in our lives,” and the story pictorially follows the lives of an emotionally tightknit mother and daughter, from the latter’s birth to the former’s possible death; yes, the words “angel,” “far away,” and the illustration of the elder woman’s framed photo beside a glowing candle are open to interpretation, but even children of a certain age will clue-in to the gentle suggestion here. This feels like a personal story, but anyone who’s had the gift of a loving mother will certainly connect to it. The text – lyrics, really – contain some rhymes and off-rhymes, and the chorus…

Sauntering, Thoreau-Style

Sauntering, Thoreau-styleby Victor Carl FriesenPublished by Your Nickel’s Worth PublishingReview by Shelley A. Leedahl$25.00 ISBN 9-781988-783468 I embraced daily outdoor explorations decades ago, so was delighted when Rosthern, SK writer-photographer Victor Carl Friesen’s book, Sauntering, Thoreau-style, arrived in my mailbox. Friesen, a multi-genre writer, has several books behind him – including nonfiction, short stories, poetry and children’s literature – and in this latest title he revisits a favourite subject: the writer, naturalist, and legendary Massachusetts walker, Henry David Thoreau. Many will be familiar with Thoreau’s Walden – his literary response to a two-year sojourn at Walden Pond. Friesen’s book – a compilation of essays; mostly Saskatchewan photographs; poetry; and Thoreau’s own quoted, poetic observations – is an homage to Thoreau, and the images “were chosen to reflect Thoreau’s world”. Friesen explains that Thoreau was a highly sensorial writer who practiced activities like looking at objects with “the under part of his eye,” and “[smelling] plants before and after a rain in various stages of growth,” to get different perspectives. Thoreau’s writing itself emulated “the course of a saunter,” and Friesen writes that his subject considered the act of consciously walking in nature as an art. I understand! The colour photographs…