If These Places Could Talk

6 January 2021

If These Places Could Talk: Snapshots of Saskatchewan
by Crista Bradley, with artwork by Wendi Nordell
Published 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 the building or location. These snippets of information are designed to whet the appetites of young Saskatchewan explorers.

Some of these places are historic sites; others are simply well-known and frequently visited places like the Milky Way in Regina. Nordell’s mouth-watering illustration of a banana split enhances the experience of a visit.

Artwork is an effective tool of communication. Nordell’s colourful illustrations draw young eyes to the pages, and black and white photos awaken older, tired eyes to memories of the past.

These images deserve to be more than glanced at; they’re meant to be savoured. Look at the sod house with a little girl feeding chickens, just one of her many chores on a farm. This image conveys the feeling of what living in rural Saskatchewan was like in the early days.

Look at the photo of people in their bathing suits swimming in Wascana Lake around 1920. Yes, people really dressed like that at the beach. People back then wore more clothes to go swimming than some people these days wear to go shopping.

Notice the variety of dwellings, like tipis, sod houses, log cabins, and the Balfour Apartments. When it opened in 1930, the Balfour was the tallest and largest apartment building in Saskatchewan. It featured self-operating elevators, the first in Regina.

Take time to admire churches like the elaborate Doukhobor Prayer House at Veregin, Shiloh Baptist Church near Maidstone, built by the first Black community in Saskatchewan, and Holy Trinity Anglican Church at Stanley Mission, the oldest building still standing in Saskatchewan.

Bradley has a rhyming poem running throughout her book, praising the glories of Saskatchewan places. Each stanza is geared to various aspects of each grouping of places.

This book encourages exploration by stimulating young imaginations, one of the greatest gifts one can give. If These Places Could Talk: Snapshots of Saskatchewan –  designed for children, but adults will love it too.


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