And It Was Very Good
DriverWorks Ink / 23 March 2016

And It Was Very Good: Everyday Moments of Awe by Ed Olfert Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $19.95 ISBN 9-781927-570227 I must begin this review with a disclaimer: I was hesitant to read and review this book, based on the recognizable Biblical quote in its title. I expected that within Ed Olfert’s pages I’d be subjected to Christian proselytizing, and I’m not particularly receptive to preaching of any kind. The quote, from Genesis 1:31, refers to God observing creation then stating “And it was very good.” Well, you know what they say about judging a book by its cover. (And in this case, the cover’s a particularly attractive photograph of what appears to be a Saskatchewan lake). I’m delighted to share that within just a few pages, my hesitancy vanished and I realized I was in for a darn good read. Firstly, the Laird, SK author comes to the page rich with life experience. He’s from a “grease under the fingernails” Mennonite family, and his work experience includes mining, welding, truck driving, and “ministering a church”. He’s a father, a proud and connected grandfather, and a volunteer who has worked in Haiti, and he often works…

Red River Raging
Coteau Books / 11 February 2015

Red River Raging by Penny Draper Published by Coteau Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $10.95 ISBN 9-781550-505849 It’s a dull, wet day and I’ve nowhere to be but home-hurray!-because today I’ve had the distinct pleasure of reading Penny Draper’s novel Red River Raging cover-to-cover, and it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Coteau Books published Red River Raging as part of its Disaster Strikes! Series, which includes six other Draper titles. After reading this latest book, I certainly see why Coteau keeps Draper on its publication roster: this “Juvenile Fiction” is a terrific story, skillfully told, and I’m happy to sing its praises to readers of any age. The back cover copy whet my appetite for this gripping Manitoba-flood-based, coming-of-age story. Thirteen-year-old Finn is the only child of Vancouver scientists, and while his parents are off to Russia, their reluctant son’s exiled to the rural, St. Agathe MB home of his cookie-baking grandmother and crusty-but mysterious-great grandfather. Finn quickly makes friends at school, including Clara, who becomes his girlfriend (and has an interesting side-story herself); and Aaron, who “got run over by a bale of hay” and is in a wheelchair. When a major flood threatens, Finn initially feels “It’s…

Terror on Turtle Creek
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing / 19 December 2012

Terror on Turtle Creek by Jean Freeman illustrated by RoseMarie Condon Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Keith Foster $14.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-77-4 As a longtime admirer of Jean Freeman’s work, I knew I was in for a good read when I saw she was the author of Terror on Turtle Creek. The story follows the exploits of Barry Richards, a youngster prone to anger and negative thoughts, who works hard to avoid work. He volunteers to help fill sandbags when Turtle Creek floods over, but slinks away to relax in an unmoored boat. When it slips into the raging river and starts to sink, Barry struggles to steer himself to a flooded house. There he meets the stranded occupants, Sara McKeever and her three younger siblings, ranging in age from eight to three – Sam, Josh, and Emily—and Emily’s doll, Angelina Poot. Each chapter title is actually a time stamp that allows the reader to follow the story in real time. Teeming with challenges, each chapter ends in suspense. Just as the children are coping with one crisis, another comes crashing down on them. I immediately felt compelled to read the next chapter to see how, or if,…

Sandbag Shuffle
Thistledown Press / 13 August 2008

The Red River Flood of 1997 swallowed a large portion of southern Manitoba, leaving in its wake stories of tragedy and heroism. The wall of water that crawled toward Winnipeg caused the evacuation of more than twenty-five thousand people, two thousand head of cattle and forty-five thousand chickens. Tens of thousands more were evacuated in the United States, including forty-six thousand residents of Grand Forks, North Dakota. For most, it was a disaster of epic proportions. For Owen and Andrew, the young protagonists in Kevin Mark Fournier’s first novel, it’s an opportunity for escape.