Lil Grey Donkey, The
Ghost Mountain Publishing / 20 June 2019

The Lil Grey Donkeyby Carolyn WilliamsIllustrated by L.E.StevensReviewed by Michelle ShawPublished by Ghost Mountain Publishing$20 ISBN 978-1-9994737-1-6 This is a beautiful story about a small grey donkey “with big brown eyes” who is injured in a fight with a cougar while guarding some sheep with her friend, the Llama. But rest assured, there’s a happy ending! She subsequently finds her forever home with the author where she takes “her place in the herd, becoming a buddy for the foals and … loved by all”. The Lil Grey Donkey is so loved in fact that she appears on the Christmas cards “all dressed up with bows and a Santa cap on”. She becomes part of the community and even goes to town to greet the hospital patients before they go home. Using simple language and cartoon-like drawings that ooze personality, I think the book is ideal for drawing the young reader in without feeling intimidating. And the delightful picture of the Lil Grey Donkey on the front cover will captivate young readers before they even open the book! Williams, whose previous book The Happy Horse was released earlier this year, doesn’t actually name the donkey in the story. But there’s a…

Trial by Winter
Coteau Books / 20 June 2019

Trial by Winterby Anne PattonPublished by Coteau BooksReview by Michelle Shaw$10.95 ISBN 9781550509786 I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in a sod house in Saskatchewan during a winter blizzard. Now, thanks to Anne Patton, I have an inkling. Trial by Winter is the third and final story in Anne Patton’s Barr Colony Adventure Series. It’s 1903 and the Bolton family have built a sod house on their land in the North-West Territories. Running desperately short of money Dorothy’s father decides to travel to Edmonton to work for the winter, leaving ten-year-old Dorothy, her sixteen-year-old sister, Lydia and their mother to face their first harsh prairie winter essentially alone. Patton has the ability to transport the reader to another place and time in vivid detail, geographically, socially and climatically. She has clearly done an immense amount of meticulous research, but the research is always atmospheric and enhances the plot rather than crowding it. She vividly describes the everyday practicalities that are needed to survive during the brutal winter such as bringing wood inside to thaw before cutting it and scooping snow from the drifts outside the front door during a blizzard to melt for water. Then there…

American Refugees

American Refugees: Turning to Canada for FreedomBy Rita Shelton DeverellReviewed by Michelle ShawPublished by University of Regina Press$21.95 ISBN 9780889776258 When I first picked up American Refugees the subject matter seemed obvious. The quote on the back cover highlights the fact that the website for Citizenship and Immigration Canada crashed on election night in the US in 2016 when it became clear that Donald Trump would become the new US president. It was clearly a book about the latest wave of American refugees who, in the words of the title, “turned to Canada for freedom.” But that story is only a tiny aspect of this meticulously researched little book. Journalist and broadcaster Rita Shelton Deverell shares the stories of countless Americans who have made their way north over the years for a variety of reasons, and who have contributed immensely to Canadian society without turning a blind eye to injustices in this country. She focuses on particular periods of history when significant numbers of Americans fled to Canada such as during and after the Revolutionary War, during the period when the Underground Railway was active, and as a result of McCarthyism and the Vietnam War. While Deverell’s words informed and…

Voice: On Writing with Deafness
University of Regina Press / 11 March 2019

Voice: On Writing with Deafnessby Adam PottleReview by Michelle ShawPublished by University of Regina PressISBN 9780889775930 $18.95 Adam Pottle enjoys dynamiting stereotypes. He’s an award-winning, Saskatoon-based author whose work explores the dynamic and philosophical aspects of Deafness and disability. Born with sensorineural hearing loss in both ears, Adam’s hearing was further compromised in his late twenties when the hearing in his right ear (up to then his ‘good’ ear) began to diminish. His latest work Voice: On Writing with Deafness explores the relationship between his writing and his deafness. I found the book intriguing. I’d never considered writing specifically from the perspective of deafness and, I admit that if had occurred to me I’d probably have fallen into stereotypical thinking. But Pottle has a unique way of perceiving the world. His approach to silence, for instance. “Although deafness and silence are related,” he says, “deafness is not necessarily synonymous with silence. It is not simply a condition of non-hearing; it can be a condition of hearing things differently.” He says his deafness has made him into a writer, and “writing has become my way of fully inhabiting the world.” Pottle’s work has consistently challenged boundaries and one of his chief…

Murphy Mondays
DriverWorks Ink / 10 January 2019

Murphy Mondays by Jane Smith Review by Michelle Shaw Published by DriverWorks Ink $13.95 978-1-927570-45-6 If you live in or around Saskatoon the chances are that you have already seen or heard about Murphy, the lovable brown and white English Springer Spaniel who spreads a little magic wherever he goes. Murphy is a St John Ambulance (SJA) Therapy Dog who regularly visits Royal University Hospital’s (RUH) Emergency Room as well as other care facilities around the city. He also sometimes visits the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the Saskatoon airport. Murphy holds the distinction of being the first SJA Therapy Dog to visit an emergency room in Canada. He was such a success at RUH and made such a significant difference to patients and staff that the program has since been expanded in Saskatoon, as well as emergency rooms in other parts of Canada. He was also one of the SJA dogs who visited the injured Humboldt Bronco hockey players and their families in hospital after their bus accident in April 2018. Murphy and his handler/owner Jane Smith moved to Saskatoon from Nova Scotia in 2014. Jane’s youngest daughter Sarah George was the first to suggest that Murphy would…

Leadership Lessons from Downtown Abbey
Wood Dragon Books / 6 December 2018

Leadership Lessons from Downton Abbey By Jeanne Martinson and Laurelie Martinson Review by Michelle Shaw Wood Dragon Books $22 ISBN 9780995334281 Whether you’re an avid Downton Abbey fan or not, Leadership Lessons from Downton Abbey is a great introduction to the world of leadership and management and offers a handy overview of key leadership principles and management strategies. Regina-based sisters Jeanne and Laurelie Martinson, both recognized leaders in their fields, use characters and situations from the hit British TV series Downton Abbey to illustrate leadership principles and management strategies. “British estates, as characterized by Downton Abbey, represent one of the largest business models of their time,” the authors point out. “Their structure influenced what would become our traditional, hierarchical, business model with executive, senior and middle layers of management.“ The authors present a compelling Organizational Structure at the beginning of the book divided into Executive Management (Lord and Lady Grantham, Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary Crawley); Senior Management (Mr Carson, Mrs Hughes, Mrs Patmore, Dr Clarkson and Mr Branson) and Middle Management. It’s fascinating to see the familiar characters in the context of an organization. The authors are quick to point out however that Leadership Lessons from Downton Abbey is…

Psychedelic Revolutionaries
University of Regina Press / 15 November 2018

Psychedelic Revolutionaries: LSD and the Birth of Hallucinogenic Research By P.W. Barber Published by University of Regina Press Review by Michelle Shaw $34.95 ISBN 9780889774209 Long before Timothy Leary and the psychedelic summer of love in San Francisco made LSD a global phenomenon, researchers were quietly testing the drug’s efficacy and possibilities in the middle of the Saskatchewan prairies. Researchers Humphry Osmond, Abram Hoffer and Duncan Blewett, among others, were fascinated about the possibilities of using LSD and other psychedelic drugs to treat certain conditions such as schizophrenia and alcoholism. Their research occurred at a unique time in Saskatchewan’s history. Tommy Douglas’s Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) government was in power, Medicare was on the horizon and the government was determined to address the huge challenges in the province’s mental health system. The government was looking for new and innovative ideas. Osmond, Hoffer and their contemporaries were in the right place at the right time. Their research appeared so successful that “the province was heralded….as a world leader in mental health in the 1950s, [and h]allucinogenic drugs figured centrally in this research.” Although I knew very little about the topic, P.W Barber’s narrative in Psychedelic Revolutionaries: LSD and the Birth of…

When The Trees Crackle with Cold Activity Book

When the Trees Crackle with Cold: A Cree Seasons Activity Book By Bernice Johnson-Laxdal and Miriam Körner Review by Michelle Shaw Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing $12.95 ISBN 9781988783161 Created as a companion activity book to the award-winning When the Trees Crackle with Cold: A Cree Calendar, this book could equally stand alone as a wonderful introduction to the Cree language and culture for readers of all ages. The first book by co-authors Bernice Johnson-Laxdal and Miriam Körner was a beautifully illustrated narrative of Bernice’s Cree childhood in northern Saskatchewan. The narrative of their book is based around the Cree calendar, which consists of six seasons divided into twelve moons, and Bernice’s family’s activities associated with each moon. The activity book follows the same format with simple projects which deepen and complement the reader’s understanding of each of the activities described in the first book. Each page is black and white with a full-page illustration on one of the facing pages. Activities include making your own toy dog team, creating your very own geese flying in a V-formation, growing your own tomato plants, and even instructions on how to make your own moose call. There are also word searches…

Wolfe in Shepherd’s Clothing

Wolfe in Shepherd’s Clothing By Angie Counios and David Gane Review by Michelle Shaw Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing $19.95 9781988783130 Regina’s death toll is once again on the rise as Angie Counios and David Gane launch their third Shepherd and Wolfe mystery, Wolfe in Shepherd’s Clothing. Tony and Charlie are now in Grade 12 and still recovering emotionally and physically after the dramatic events of the summer (see Shepherd’s Watch). But a serial killer is roaming the Queen City murdering and dismembering his victims; and even though Tony’s parents warn the boys not to get involved in any more mysteries, they can’t resist investigating. Detective Gekas, herself still recovering from the previous summer’s adventures, is put in charge of the serial killer murders. As the boys investigate, the killings come heartbreakingly close to home, and Tony is guilt-stricken to think that their actions may be responsible for the killer’s latest choice of victim. Although the story is satisfyingly wrapped up, the final chapter of the book ends on a cliffhanger. Which means that once again I will be waiting very impatiently for the next book in the series! This book is thicker and slightly darker in tone than…

After The War: Surviving PTSD and Changing Mental Health Culture

After the War: Surviving PTSD and Changing Mental Health Culture By Stéphane Grenier with Adam Montgomery Review by Michelle Shaw Published by University of Regina Press $27.95 CAD ISBN 9780889775336 When Canadian soldier Stéphane Grenier headed to Rwanda in 1994 as part of the UN peacekeeping force, he had no idea it was the beginning of a journey which would change his life forever. He returned to Canada ten and a half months later grateful to be alive. But as he adjusted to “normal” life back home with his wife and children, he began to notice that something fundamental had shifted. There were changes that, in retrospect, he says, acted as signs of things to come. He was persistently impatient–the smallest thing could set him off. He had constant nightmares and difficulty sleeping. He experienced suicidal thoughts. Grenier knew something was wrong and tried to seek help but soon realized that “like numerous soldiers during the 1990s, I’d come into contact with a dysfunctional military health-care system and stale psychiatric methods, not to mention many doctors who were unaware of what war and peacekeeping could do to a person’s mind.” He discovered that “the military was completely unprepared to deal…