Yellowgrass
Hagios Press / 29 April 2009

It’s clear that the poet also keeps one eye on the larger world, fraught as it is with economic crises, ecological issues, and war. Safarik, then, is the best kind of seer

Black Bear Pastry & Other Delights
Kakwa Publishing / 23 April 2009

This is a children’s story, yes, with age-appropriate language and credible characters – it was realistic and delightful how often friends and extended family were visiting the grandparents to work together on a mossbag, for example, or help fix an old truck — but it also deals with the “grown-up” issue of traditional vs. contemporary life.

Bedtime Blessings
Positive Pressures Inc. / 1 April 2009

The book encourages adult-child discussion by including a number of questions, such as: “Tell me about a time today when you felt your heart growing because somebody loved you.” “Who did you play with, talk with, take turns or share with today?” and “Tell me about a time today when you used your words or your hands to be kind to someone.” These questions follow four rhymed (and generically associated) lines .

The Well and Other Stories
Thistledown Press / 4 February 2009

When reading radiant, dialogue-rich stories like the title story, I felt I was at the table sharing a bottle of wine with the French and English couples in the 400 year old village of Cipières, France. What a gift to be able to travel like this. What I did not expect was the dramatic plot shifts. I often finished a story and could only marvel at the directions in which the plot turned.

Landmarks: The Art of Dorothy Knowles
Hagios Press / 10 September 2008

Landmarks: The Art of Dorothy Knowles Text by Terry Fenton, Art by Dorothy Knowles Published by Hagios Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $25.95 ISBN 978-0-9783440-2-3 If members of the general public were asked to name a prominent Canadian landscape painter, I’d guess that they might identify a member of the Group of Seven or Emily Carr, but here in Saskatchewan we also have a number of landscape painters of prominence, and high on the list is Dorothy Knowles. Terry Fenton, acclaimed landscape painter and former Mendel Art Gallery director, has forged an aptly-named homage to his friend and fellow artist, Saskatoon’s Dorothy Knowles, and Hagios has packaged the text and forty stunning Knowles’ images in a book that one might expect to pay twice as much for. Land Marks: The Art of Dorothy Knowles is a tour de force. Fenton met his subject at an Emma Lake Artists Workshop in 1965, where another artist commented: “That housewife from Saskatoon is making good paintings.” Not surprisingly, the famous Emma Lake workshops (initiated in 1933 by Walter Murray and Augustus Kenderdine) played an integral role in Knowles’ life and work. It was here that she “discovered a passion for art that…

Phosphorus
Thistledown Press / 6 September 2008

Like numerous other professional writers’, Heidi Garnett’s work had appeared in reputable literary journals and chapbooks, was broadcast on CBC, and earned her awards. She had honed her craft at the renowned Banff Centre, and participated in other creative writing programs. In short, the poet had an impressive curriculum vitae before her first book, “Phosphorus,” was ever published, and the proof of her apprenticeship is in the quality of the poems themselves.

Tuck and Kayuk’s Adventure

Tuck and Kayuk’s Adventure by Robert W. Friedrich Published by Last Mountain Publishers Review by Shelley A. Leedahl In my career as a writer, I’ve often met people who say they have an idea for a novel or a children’s story and are going to write a book one day. I expect that “one day” never arrives for most of these would-be authors, nor do they realize how difficult and time-consuming it is to acquire a publisher. Sometimes, however, the story does get written, and the writer sidesteps the long process of publishing with a publishing company by taking the matter into his or her own hands. The self-published children’s story Tuck and Kayuk’s Adventure, by Regina writer Robert W. Friedrich, and illustrated by Walter Mink, of Le Pas, Manitoba, is a fine example of what can result when one has the determination to see their story in print. As the title suggests, this is an adventure story, which Friedrich dedicates to “all young boys everywhere.” The main character, Tuck, lives in the (undefined) north with his family and his canine companion, Kayuk. The boy dreams of being “the best hunter in his village” and being celebrated as such by…

Emry’s Dream: Greystone Theatre in Photographs and Words
Thistledown Press / 27 August 2008

Current Greystone Theatre director, Dwayne Brenna – known to many as a writer, actor, and “Eddie Gustafson” on CBC SK Radio — has orchestrated a history of Greystone with essays and black and white archival photographs that reveal the theatre’s finest hours — and some of its darkest – in “Emrys’ Dream:
Greystone Theatre in Photographs and Words.”

Interwoven Wild
Thistledown Press / 8 July 2008

Interwoven Wild: An Ecologist Loose in the Garden by Don Gayton Published by Thistledown Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $15.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-35-5 When one considers gardening books, “coffee table” books containing sumptuous photographs might spring to mind, but BC writer and nationally-known ecologist Don Gayton has written a gardening book of another nature, and for this gardener’s money, it’s far more satisfying than a full-colour, glossy album of gardens I could never aspire to. Gayton’s book of intelligent, easy-to-read literary essays, Interwoven Wild: An Ecologist Loose in the Garden delivers an ideal combination of history, witty personal anecdotes, and practical information. A vague through-line exists in the antics of Gayton’s dandelion-flinging dachshund, Spud, “who looks like an Irish setter might if it were left in the dryer too long.” Gayton is a first-rate writer and an “every person’s” philosopher. He makes the biology of a compost bin sound like both poetry and stand-up comedy (“Nobody likes a monotonous diet, not even bacteria”). Of the “Split Eden” – our penchant for pairing the cultivated and the wild – he contends that this duality “courses well beyond yard and garden into our very understanding of nature.” His subjects include soil quality…