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…

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,…

Radiant Life, A
University of Regina Press / 8 October 2020

A Radiant Life: The Honourable Sylvia Fedoruk, Scientist, Sports Icon, and Stateswomanby Merle MassiePublished University of Regina PressReview by Keith Foster$34.95 ISBN 978-0889777330 As twelve-year-old Sylvia Fedoruk watched their majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on their 1939 cross-Canada tour, she thought this would be the closest she’d ever get to royalty. How mistaken she was. Nearly fifty years later she was sworn in as the Queen’s representative, becoming Saskatchewan’s first female lieutenant-governor. Merle Massie’s lively biography, A Radiant Life, offers an intimate look at the life and career of Sylvia Fedoruk. In her preface, Massie describes Sylvia as someone who “sang lustily, laughed uproariously and often, and believed that life was for living.” Instead of using her subject’s surname, Massie uses her first name throughout. Sylvia, after all, sounds much more personal. Right away, readers get to know her on a personal level and instantly feel closer to her. Sylvia attended one-room schools east of Yorkton, SK., where her father taught. To avoid being called “teacher’s pet,” Sylvia endeavoured not only to perform well, but to outperform. She did. She averaged at least two scholarships every year throughout high school and university. A sports enthusiast, Sylvia excelled at…

Flight, Volume 2
DriverWorks Ink / 18 August 2020

Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation, Volume 2by Deana J. Driver and ContributorsPublished by DriverWorks InkReview by Keith Foster$19.95 ISBN 978-1-927570-50-0 When a Concorde carrying French President Francois Mitterrand landed in Regina for an official visit in June 1987, citizens turned out in droves. Not to see the French president, but to admire the Concorde. Such was the attraction of this supersonic jet, one of the most sophisticated airplanes in the world. The visit of the Concorde is only one of the thirty-seven chapters of Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation, Volume 2. This sequel carries on from where Volume 1 left off, with more exciting stories and more thrilling exploits, written by Deana J. Driver and twelve contributors. Among the authors are Saskatchewan aviation historian Will Chabun, hot air balloonist Malcolm McLeod, and internationally acclaimed humorist and storyteller Vincent Murphy-Dodds. Driver played a triple role in bringing this anthology together. As publisher of DriverWorks Ink, she oversaw the production of Flight, edited the contributed stories, and wrote a good dozen of them herself. As in Volume 1, Volume 2 of Flight introduces readers to a variety of aircraft. Will Chabun describes the pros and cons of a number of them. The…

My Dearest Dido
Wood Dragon Books / 7 February 2020

My Dearest Dido: The Holodomor Storyby Marion MutalaPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReview by Keith Foster$19.99              ISBN 978-1-989078-20-4 Marion Mutala’s My Dearest Dido: The Holodomor Story is a passionate account of the Great Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933, known as the Holodomor. Based on actual events and documented eyewitness accounts, this story consists of correspondence between two fictional characters – Hanusia Hrabowa in Saskatoon and her grandfather, Dido Bohdan, in Hafford, SK, supplemented by Hanusia’s personal diary. As a class assignment to write about the Holodomor, Hanusia does her research using a primary source – her grandfather, or Dido, who survived the famine. Sixteen-year-old Hanusia starts writing to Dido, requesting his assistance, beginning each letter with “My Dearest Dido.”  Readers may find it odd that Hanusia chose to write letters when any sixteen-year-old would almost instinctively reach for her cell phone. But discussing such a sensitive subject over the phone would have been too difficult. Corresponding by letter would enable Dido to reread the contents, dwell upon Hanusia’s request, and gather his thoughts. Dido is reluctant at first – the memories are just too painful. As he starts to  open up, he becomes severely ill from…

Flight, Volume 1
DriverWorks Ink / 22 November 2019

Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation, Volume 1by Deana J. Driver and ContributorsPublished by DriverWorks InkReview by Keith Foster$19.95 ISBN 978-1-927570-49-4 Fasten your seat belts. Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation is about to take off. It’s going to be a wild ride. This collection of thirty-five true stories has mishaps and crashes galore. It brings out the thrill, and the danger, of flying. Author and publisher Deana Driver contributed nearly two-thirds of these stories, based on interviews she conducted. Readers will hear from, among many others, an air traffic controller, a helicopter pilot, a mechanic for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, and a pilot who had to make an abrupt landing as her cockpit was filling with smoke. Flight unveils an assortment of flying machines, from gliders to helicopters to an air ambulance. Royal Canadian Air Force Sergeant John Enright compares the smooth handling capability of the Tudor to “flying in a 737 that could instantly turn into a Ferrari.” The authors display their love of flight and love of the aircraft. “The smell of burning jet fuel is as sweet a perfume as ever there was and the roar of engines a pure symphony,” Terry Lynn Lewis writes. Lewis describes how,…

Florence of America
University of Regina Press / 8 October 2019

Florence of America: A Feminist in the Age of McCarthyismby Florence Bean James, with Jean FreemanPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Keith Foster$24.95 ISBN 9780889776470 Florence of America: A Feminist in the Age of McCarthyism is the autobiography of Florence Bean James and her passionate struggle against oppression to establish quality theatre in North America. Part of The Regina Collection published by the University of Regina Press, Florence of America is a slightly condensed reprint of her earlier memoir, Fists Upon A Star. The new version has a more compact format – easy to carry in one’s pocket and handy to pull out while sitting in waiting rooms. In her memoir, Florence recalls her exciting life. Starting out at the end of the First World War was difficult for her and her husband, Burton. The bedroom of their New York apartment was so small that once they moved the bed in, they couldn’t close the door. Their rent was three dollars a week, plus quarters for the gas meter, and included cockroaches, which stayed rent-free. Working temporarily as a switchboard operator, Florence hid twelve dollars, her weekly salary, under some shelf paper in the kitchen cupboard. Next week, in…

Back to Blakeney
University of Regina Press / 8 October 2019

Back to Blakeney: Revitalizing the Democratic Stateedited by David McGrane, John D. Whyte, Roy Romanow, and Russell IsingerPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Keith Foster$34.95 ISBN 9780889776418 Back to Blakeney: Revitalizing the Democratic State is the political biography of Allan Blakeney, a political giant who served as Saskatchewan’s tenth premier from 1971 to 1982. This 342-page volume stems directly from a 2015 conference held at the University of Saskatchewan in which fifteen academic essayists discussed and evaluated Blakeney’s legacy to the democratic state in Canada. It’s wholly appropriate that academics discuss Blakeney as he himself was an academic, achieving early distinction as a Rhodes scholar. As the subtitle suggests, this study harks back to Saskatchewan in the 1970s, a difficult but in some ways a better time. It was better because Blakeney stuck to his principles in trying times. The editors applaud Blakeney’s “openness to other views” and “his ability to extend courtesy in debate” – rare phenomena in today’s politics. In paying tribute to Blakeney’s many achievements, this scholarly study reveals a certain slant in perception; the editors acknowledge that Blakeney was a personal friend of theirs. One of the essayists and editors is Roy Romanow, a former…

Literary History of Saskatchewan, Volume 3
Coteau Books / 7 August 2019

The Literary History of Saskatchewan: Volume 3 – Advancesedited by David Carpenter and Kelly-Anne RiessPublished by Coteau BooksReview by Keith Foster$29.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-954-0 The Literary History of Saskatchewan: Volume 3 – Advances is Coteau Books’ third and final volume analyzing Saskatchewan’s proud literary tradition. Compiling and assessing a literary history of the province isn’t easy, especially when that history is ongoing. But editor David Carpenter, ably assisted by Kelly-Anne Riess, has done a commendable job in this Herculean task. Carpenter divides Saskatchewan’s literary history into three segments. Volume 1 traced the accomplishments of writers from the oral traditions of First Nations storytellers and early European explorers to the burgeoning Saskatchewan literary world of the 1970s. Volume 2 carried on with Saskatchewan writers and their writing styles from the 1980s to the end of the twentieth century. Volume 3 brings Saskatchewan’s literary history up to date. This three-volume scholarly study presents twelve essays by prominent Saskatchewan authors, with a heavy slant on Regina, where more than half of the essayists reside. All bring insights into Saskatchewan’s literary psyche. Carpenter’s introduction is also a farewell as this collection is the last in the series under his superb stewardship. He notes that the…

Imagining Child Welfare in the Spirit of Reconciliation
University of Regina Press / 19 March 2019

“Imagining Child Welfare in the Spirit of Reconciliation: Voices from the Prairies”Edited by Dorothy Badry, H. Monty Montgomery, Daniel Kikulwe, Marlyn Bennett, and Don FuchsPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Keith Foster$39.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-575-6 There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Indigenous child welfare and the Sixties Scoop, where Indigenous children were scooped up and placed with non-Indigenous families. A symposium held in Winnipeg, MB by the Prairie Child Welfare Consortium in 2016 addressed these and other serious issues. Imagining Child Welfare in the Spirit of Reconciliation is an outgrowth of that symposium. This is volume 6 in the Voices from the Prairies series, focusing specifically on the well-being of Indigenous children in the three Prairie provinces – Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba. The authors and editors are passionate about promoting Indigenous rights, particularly for children. And by Indigenous or Aboriginal, they’re referring inclusively to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. This volume looks at four main areas – policy, practice, research, and education – in twelve chapters written by two dozen scholars well-versed in Indigenous culture and the child welfare system. Each chapter ends with a series of questions and list of references. These thought-provoking questions and their…