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…

Cold Case North
University of Regina Press / 2 December 2020

Cold Case North: The Search for James Brady and Absolom Halkettby Michael Nest with Deanna Reder and Eric BellPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Michelle Shaw$24.95 ISBN 9780889777491 In 1967, Métis leader James Brady and Absolom Halkett, a Cree Band Councillor, vanished from their remote lakeside camp while prospecting in Saskatchewan. No trace of them was ever found and their disappearance became one of Northern Saskatchewan’s most enduring mysteries. The initial police investigation concluded that the men had got lost and died while trying to find their way out of the remote area. But rumors persisted for over 50 years. If they were indeed lost why was no trace of their bodies ever found, even though there was an extensive search at the time. Many people believed they were murdered, and their bodies disposed of, probably in the nearby lake which was very cold and deep. Various attempts were made over the years to discover what had happened, but none were successful. Deanna Reder, a Professor of English and Indigenous Studies at Simon Fraser University (SFU), grew up hearing the story of Brady and Halkett. Her uncle Frank, in particular, talked about his memories of the two men and…

Tunnels of Time
DriverWorks Ink / 2 December 2020

Tunnels of Time (Moose Jaw Time Travel Adventure #1)by Mary Harelkin BishopPublished by Emmbee Ink and DriverWorks InkReview by Michelle Shaw$15.95 ISBN 9781927570579 Andrea and her family are in Moose Jaw for a family wedding and the teenager is not happy. Not only is she missing a school trip, she has to spend the weekend with her family and be the junior bridesmaid at her cousin’s wedding which is really stressing her out. At the wedding rehearsal dinner which is held in the basement banquet room of a local restaurant, Andrea hears for the first time about the tunnels that run underneath the city of Moose Jaw. Well sort of. She’s not really listening. But later when they are shown one of the tunnels, Andrea gets separated from the rest of the group. She finds herself hurtling back in time to the 1920s when Moose Jaw was a completely different city full of gangsters, gambling and crime. She meets a frightening crime boss known as Ol’ Scarface, is forced into guiding dubious men through the tunnels and ends up having to hide from the gangsters and the police. Andrea wonders if she will ever see her family again. The first…

Burned-Out Healer, The
Wood Dragon Books / 8 October 2020

The Burned-Out Healer: A Path to Trauma Release and Reconnection to Selfby Jacquie BaloghPublished by Wood Dragon BooksReviewed by Michelle Shaw$19.99 ISBN 978-1-989078-23-5 In The Burned-Out Healer, Calgary-based hypnotherapist Jacquie Balogh shares her journey from burnout towards spiritual and physical harmony and provides a practical roadmap for others to recognize and address their own energetic exhaustion. Jacquie has been involved in healing for most of her life. Even as a child, she says, she had a special knack for reading people, for knowing things about them she had no realistic way of knowing. “I was able to see things around them such as auras and visitors from another realm. I was able to decipher what those things meant and help people along their journey by sharing this knowledge with them.” Jacquie naturally gravitated towards a career that would involve helping others and became a licensed practical nurse, which initially she thoroughly enjoyed. But after fifteen years she was disillusioned, she says, with a system that seemed to focus more on bureaucracy than healing. She decided to train in other avenues of healing such as reiki, tarot, mediumship and hypnotherapy, incorporating her knowledge into her own healing work. But even though…

Nature’s Broken Clocks
University of Regina Press / 13 August 2020

Nature’s Broken Clocksby Paul HuebenerPublished by University of Regina PressReview by Michelle Shaw$24.95 ISBN 9780889777125 For someone who has always regarded time as primarily linear or cyclical, Paul Huebener’s book Nature’s Broken Clocks is rather mind-bending. Weaving together science, history, narrative and the natural world, Huebener—described as one of the leading figures in the field of ecocritical time studies—challenges the reader’s perceptions of time, particularly within in the context of the environmental crisis. He discusses varying concepts of time, from the sun (humanity’s “original clock”) to the politics of time—and points out that even so-called natural time is a lot more complex than we might think. I was especially fascinated by the various examples of the natural world he used. From the grolar (global warming has caused grizzly bears to wake from hibernation earlier in the season and come into more frequent “friendly” contact with polar bears) to what ecologists call “mistiming”. This is “the process whereby warming causes animals to fall out of step with a critical food source, particularly at breeding times, when a failure to find enough food can lead to rapid population losses.” Canadian boreal ducks have been facing this exact dilemma. Yet Huebener notes that…

Aesthetics of Senescence, The

The Aesthetics of Senescence: Aging, Population and the Nineteenth-Century British Novelby Andrea CharisePublished by University of Regina PressReview by Michelle Shaw$34.95 9780889777064 Early on in the writing of this book, the author Andrea Charise, suggested developing a particular seminar for her advanced undergraduates. “Called ‘Reading Older Age’, its goal was to introduce students to representations of age and aging in a variety of literary genres,” in order to “better understand how such portrayals contribute to our perceptions of fleshly temporality.” At the start of the seminar, her students, all in their early twenties, described aging, not surprisingly, in terms of decline, “the naturalized assumption that old age is inextricably bound to illness, incapacity, lack and diminishment.” But as the semester progressed, with the students reading a variety of books ranging from Shakespeare’s King Lear to David Markson’s The Last Novel, she was intrigued to discover that her students began to perceive aging through a far more complex lens. In The Aesthetics of Senescence, which was shaped by her doctoral studies at the University of Toronto, Charise “explores how the invention of population in the early 19th century impacted broader cultural conceptualizations of older age.” She examines the works of a…

Companion of Eagles
Serimuse Books / 17 April 2020

Companion of Eaglesby Regine HaenselPublished by Serimuse BooksReview by Michelle Shaw$14.95       ISBN 9780993903229 Companion of Eagles is the third book in The Leather Book Tales, a fantasy set in western North America.  The book opens in Aquila, City of Eagles, where 14-year-old Samel lives with his father. One day, his mother’s cousin Thea arrives. She is headed to the mountains, to her childhood home in the city of Schönspitze. Samel is desperate to accompany Thea on her journey and experience a world outside his everyday life.  Thea is headed home because her grandfather, who had disappeared years before, has suddenly reappeared. When they meet him, he tells them a peculiar story. He was sucked down by the currents of a nearby lake into a deep enchanted cave where he lay for a long time. There he had mysterious visions and dreams until one day he suddenly found himself outside the cave. He tells them to call him Grandfather Frog. Grandfather Frog is consumed by the idea of finding his way back to the mysterious cave to try to understand what has happened. Samel and Grandfather Frog set off on their journey but are nearly killed in a…

Scaredy Cali
All Write Here Publishing / 2 March 2020

Scaredy Caliby Jessica WilliamsIllustrated by Nathan MonçãoPublished by All Write Here PublishingReview by Michelle Shaw$11.99 (softcover) ISBN 9781999539702 Cali is afraid of lots of things. She is scared when it is her turn to read in front of the class and she is afraid of the other kids when they play tag. She is even terrified of her aunt’s fluffy little white dog, Muffin. Cali is afraid of so many things that the other kids at school call her Scaredy Cali. She doesn’t like being called that…but she’s too afraid to tell them. But there’s one thing that Cali isn’t scared of. And when an unexpected visitor comes to class, Cali gets the chance to show that she can be brave too. Scaredy Cali is easy to read with large bright illustrations that burst with expressive character. Most of the illustrations cover both pages. Some of the words are in bold or capitalized or even placed at an angle and the design enhances the flow of the story beautifully. I especially loved Cali’s secret passion and the way it’s illustrated and expressed in the story. The book is available in softcover, hard cover and e-format. Author Jessica Williams was born…

You Can’t Invite a Fish to a Dance Party
All Write Here Publishing / 2 March 2020

You can’t invite a fish to a dance partyby Jessica WilliamsIllustrated by Jimena de la VegaPublished by All Write Here PublishingReview by Michelle Shaw$11.99 (softcover) ISBN 9781999539726 Dance parties are an important way to celebrate life’s big achievements. Like a hole-in-one at mini golf or swinging all the way across the monkey bars. Saskatchewan author Jessica Williams shares her enthusiasm for celebration with a quirky story with an important message: celebrate who you are even when those around you think they know better. Rabbit, Dog, Parrot, Cat and the other pets are having a dance party, but they decide that Fish can’t go because fish don’t have feet for dancing, and they can’t sing karaoke. So clearly Fish wouldn’t have any fun. Fish has other ideas but each time he tries to show what he can do his friends think something is wrong and become even more determined to protect him. They don’t want him to get hurt! Finally, Fish starts to think that maybe they are right. Maybe they do know what he can do better than he does. You’ll have to read the book to find out how the story ends. But rest assured, it’s a magical colourful…

Frenemy Nations
University of Regina Press / 18 December 2019

Frenemy Nations: Love and Hate Between Neighbo(u)ring StatesBy Mary SoderstromPublished by University of Regina PressReviewed by Michelle Shaw$27.95 ISBN 9780889776722 In the summer of 1968, Mary Soderstrom and her husband loaded up their Volkswagen Beetle and immigrated to Canada from the United States. “We were young, we were disgusted with the [Vietnam] war, and we were hopeful that we’d find something different across the border,” she says. “But to be honest, we didn’t expect things to be too different. After all, weren’t Canada and the United States very much alike?” The contrast between their new home and their old led to a long running reflection that continued to intrigue her over the years.…How could two places that are similar in so many ways be so disparate in others? In Fremeny Nations, Soderstrom looks at a range of geographical “odd couples” that she has encountered over the years. In addition to the United States and Canada, the book also examines the two Vietnams, Algeria and Tunisia, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Brazil and the rest of South America, Burundi and Rwanda, Scotland and Ireland, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Vermont and New Hampshire and, intriguingly, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The book explores these…