Sunday, October 28, 2018

Book review: Super! by Jennifer Chen (MG)

(I received my copy from the publisher)

Publisher:  Insomniac Press
Publishing date:  2018

What's it like to have a gifted friend?
Yes, but there's also the matter of jealousy. Especially when your own mother compares you to your friend and you come up lacking. Especially when everyone expects you to be gifted.
That's what twelve-year-old Beata faces--in spades. Her friend Gwen is a "polypower" super-hero and her great-grandmother was the world's first super-hero. And worse, Beata suspects that she may be a Dud-- a descendant of a super-hero, with no super-hero powers.

There's so much about this book that I like...
-the strong female and ethnically diverse characters
-the plot that has as many twists and turns as a super-hero in mid melee.

-the Prologue and Epilogue could easily have been woven into chapters.
-long chapters--especially considering the target reader
-the book would benefit with one more edit as I found passages that could have been made clearer or stronger.

Two examples...
'I nod wordlessly.' (p. 116)
Can you nod with words?
'They amass around me like bees.' (p. 337)
Bees swarm.

Favourite quotes...
'"All anyone can ever ask is for you to do the best with what you have."' (p.117)
 'Before, I could only see Frances Fantastic, the Original Super. Now, I see more. Beyond the fame, she was just a girl.' (p.391)
Thank you, Jennifer Chen, for this action-packed story.  

an island friend kindly indulging me, photo by ldyck

November, on this blog, will be a month for remembrance and knitting-themed fiction.

Sunday, November 4:  Shared Passion (short story)
This piece of magical realism celebrates knitting for charities.

Sunday, November11:  I couldn't think of a better way to remember than to share (again) my dad's words--the words of a veteran from World War II.

Sunday, November 18:  The Lure of Yarn (short story)
A cautionary tale told in jest.

Sunday, November 25:  Courting (short story)
Jane Austen inspired historical romance

on Mayne Island, photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

This October I...

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Art Class (short story) by Leanne Dyck

'multi-artist mural on Mayne Island' photo by ldyck

In the past students like me would be sent to sit in a corner with a dunce cap on their heads. I've seen pictures. Or maybe into the hall to teach themselves what the teachers couldn't. I've heard stories. But it's the 70s, today they just...

"Kim, are you listening?" The teacher glares at me. "Earth to Kim." She thinks she's so funny. Maybe she is. The class is laughing.

Am I listening? How do I answer that? Do I tell her the truth?

I was thinking.

That would tick her off. Like I was being disrespectful. Like the only thoughts I'm allowed to have are the ones she gives me.

I say, "Hmm. Ah. Uh."

More laughter.

I'm so funny. I should sit in the back with the class clowns that get A's without trying. Instead of sitting up here struggling to get a C.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Mackie. I'll try harder."

I am sorry. Sorry to her; sorry for me.

Does she even hear me?

The bell rings, I leave that classroom and head to my locker. I keep my head down, my arms by my sides. Sharks swim in these waters. If they smell a weak dolphin they'll bite. I dump my books into my locker and get my stuff for art class.

Mr. Tremblay may look airy-fairy to some but not to me. He dances around with a smile on his face, humming. The walls of his classroom are covered with his students' work--my work.

He says things like, "You took an interesting perspective in this drawing. Good technique." He asks questions like, "Can you tell me where the light is coming from in this picture?" Easy questions. I'm usually the first to answer. I could stay in his classroom all day. But the bell rings again.

School was okay until I turned twelve until I entered the sixth grade. Now it's like all the other kids are racing ahead but I'm...but I'm stuck. 

Next Post
Sunday, October 28 (at approximately 5 PM)
Book Review:  Super! by Jennifer Chew
middle-grade magical realism
What's it like to have a gifted friend?

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Canada's Best Books--adult and children (list)

For readers of books by Canadian authors, October and November are very exciting months. It's award season:  a celebration of the best books in Canada.

The Man Booker
Congratulations to Anna Burns  (from Northern Ireland) 
and her novel Milkman

Canadian book short-listed...
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

TD Canadian Children's Literature Award

Dragonfly Song
Wendy Orr
Published by Pajama Press
Ages:  9-13
buy this book

Picture the Sky
Barbara Reid
Published by North Winds Press/Scholastic Canda
Ages:  3-8
buy this book

Speaking Our Truth:  A Journey of Reconciliation
Monique Gray Smith
Published by Orca Book Publishers
Age:  9-13
buy this book

Town is by the Sea
Written by Joanne Schwartz
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Published by Groundwood Books
Age:  5-9
buy this book

Congratulations to award winner...
When the Moon Comes
Written by Paul Hardbridge
Illustrated by Matt James
Published by Tundra Books
Age:  4-8
buy this book

TD Fan Choice Award
for young readers

Congratulations to award winner...
Picture the Sky
Barbara Reid
Published by Scholastic Canada
buy this book

Governor General's Literary Award
Awarded on October 30

'The prizes, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, are awarded in seven English-language categories:  fiction, non-fiction, poetry, young people's literature--text, young people's literature--illustration, dram and translation. Seven French-language awards are also given out in the same categories.' -CBC books


Women Talking
Miriam Toews
Published by Penguin Random House Canada
buy this book

Zolitude (short story collection)
Paige Cooper
Published by Biblioasis
buy this book

Beirut Hellfire Society
Rawi Hage
Published by Penguin Random House Canada
buy this book

Congratulation to award winner...
The Red Word
Sarah Henstra
Published by ECW Press
buy this book

Johnny Appleseed
Joshua Whitehead
Published by Arsenal Pulp Press
buy this book

Young People's Literature --text

Congratulations to award winner...
Sweep:  The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Jonathan Auxier
Published by Tundra Books
buy this book

The Journey of Little Charlie
Christopher Paul Curtis
Published by Scholastic Canada
buy this book

Learning to Breathe
Janice Lynn Mather
Published by Simon & Schuster Canada
buy this book

Winnie's Great War
Lindsay Mattick and Josh Greenhut
Illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Published by HarperCollins Canada
buy this book

Ebb & Flow
Heather Smith
Published by Kids Can Press
buy this book

Young People's Literature --illustration

Ocean Meets Sky
Eric Fan & Terry Fan
Published by Simon & Schuster Canada
buy this book

Shauntay Grant
Illustrated by Eva Campbell
Published by Groundwood Press
buy this book

Go Show the World
Wab Kinew
Illustrated by Joe Morse
Published by Tundra Books
buy this book

Congratulations to award winner...
They Say Blue
Jillian Tamaki
Published by Groundwood Press
buy this book

At the Pond
Werner Zimmerman
Published by Scholastic Canada
buy this book

Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
Awarded on November 7

The Saturday Night Ghost Club
Craig Davidson
Published by Penguin Random House
'Balancing a fine line between childhood wonder and adult understanding.'
buy this book

Washington Black
Esi Edugyan
Published by HarperCollins
'A young hero's awakening amidst overwhelming obstacles.'
buy this book

Beirut Hellfire Society
Rawi Hage
Published by Penguin Random House
'A powerful investigation of the nature of death and what comes next.'
buy this book

Land Mammals and Sea Creatures
Jen Neale
Published by ECW Press
'A story of fish guts and human frailties.'
buy this book

Congratulations to award winner...
Dear Evelyn
Kathy Page
Published by Biblioasis
'A startling tale of time's impact on love and family.'
buy this book

Scotiabank Giller Prize
Awarded on November 19

French Exit
Patrick deWitt
published by House of Anansi Press
buy this book

Songs for the Cold of Heart
Eric Dupont
translated by Peter McCambridge
published by QC Fiction, an imprint of Baraka Books
buy this book

Congratulations to award winner...
Washington Black
Esi Edugyan
published by Patrick Crean Editions, 
an imprint of HarperCollins Canada
buy this book

Sheila Heti
published by Knopf Canada
buy this book

An Ocean of Minutes
Thea Lim
published by Viking Canada
buy this book

'The 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlisted books are available in accessible format for print-disabled Canadians through the National Network for Equittable Library Service NNELS ( and the Centre for Equittable Library Access CELA ('
This is so cool! And I'd like to thank these library services and Scotiabank Giller for making these books available for people like me.


The Largest Award of Its Kind Celebrates the Best in Canadian Children's Literature

It's an Honour Just to be Nominated, Probably

2019 Forest of Reading Nominated Titles Announced

'multi-artist mural on Mayne Island' photo by ldyck

Next Post:  Sunday, October 21 (at approximately 5 PM)
Art Class (short story)
Follow a twelve-year-old undiagnosed learning challenged girl from class to class.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A Writer's Journey (short story) by Leanne Dyck

When did you decide to be an author? What has your author journey been like? This short story was inspired by my answer to those questions...

"On Mayne Island" photo by ldyck

A Writer's Journey

Once upon a time (on October 10, 2010, to be exact), a woman packed a pen and some paper and set out on a journey. She had heard about the hill throughout her life. She'd thought about it... Others had encouraged her to climb... But she'd put excuse after excuse in her way. She'd been too scared to even try. But that day, she shoved her fear out of the way and jumped over her excuses. 

The sun was warm on her back. The chill fall breeze was invigorating.  From the base of the hill, it was hard to tell its height. She didn't know how long it would take her. But she put one foot in front of the other and started to climb.

Day after day, week after week, she climbed. Sometimes she felt lonely. But the woman wasn't alone.

Others called, "Hey, do you need help"--and gave her a walking stick, more paper, a pen.

Others cheered, "Keep climbing!"

Others silently watched her climb and she felt their support.

Month after month, year after year, she climbed. Sometimes she tripped.

"You're going to hurt yourself," people called from the grass, beside the path. "That's why I stopped climbing. It's way too hard." 

Those people looked a lot more fit than she was. The woman's legs were too short. Her lungs were too small. What made her think that she could succeed when others had failed?  Was it really worth all the effort? How much longer would it take? How high was the hill? The grass looked so soft. Her pack felt so heavy. She bent her knee. She rested but...

"Don't stop! Don't stop!" one voice called and then another. Soon a chorus encouraged her on. "Keep going. You can do it. We believe in you."

Those voices... That support... They carried her. And that's how the woman is still climbing.

"On Mayne Island" photo by ldyck