Sunday, April 11, 2021

Book Review: Rabbit Foot Bill by Helen Humphreys

A boy's friendship with a World War II veteran raises suspension but lasts a lifetime. 


The year is 1947. Twelve-year-old Leonard Flint has been living in Canwood, Saskatchewan for two years. And still, he has no friends. No friends but one--William Dunn, a veteran of World War II.

Did the hairs on the back of your head raise when you read that paragraph? What about if I add that Bill lives in a hill--Sugar Hill--and that he doesn't have a "real" job--he catches wild rabbits and sells their severed back feet? 

Do you fear for Leonard's life?

Why would a grown man want to be friends with a teenage boy? What is the nature of their relationship? Those are the questions that lead me through this at times disturbing, at times tender tale.

Rabbit Foot Bill is divided into four time periods--1947, 1959, 1960, and 1970. We watch Leonard grow from boy to man. He's far from being a hero. His flaws are glaringly obvious. Because I meet Leonard as a vulnerable boy, I hope for the best for him. When he meets with tragedy--fired from his job--I blame him for not living up to my expectations. Am I justified in blaming him?



Buy This Book


Rabbit Foot Bill

Helen Humphreys

Based on a true story

HarperCollins

2020


Helen Humphreys kept me captivated up to and including the tender final scene. And yet, I was surprised to discover that I wasn't reading this story I was blindfolded and was being led through the story. Or maybe Humphreys was a magician. All the time my focus was on her right hand when I should have been watching her left.


I discovered Rabbit Foot Bill through the book blog I've Read This


Coming soon to this blog...

Wednesday, April 14
Podcast Author Reading



Leanne Dyck



Sunday, April 18
short story

Neighbourly
Leanne Dyck

Your neighbour can change your life forever.




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On Easter Monday, a good friend died...

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Dog Hair (poem) by Leanne Dyck

 April is Poetry Month. To celebrate, I'll share this poem I wrote for children--and the young at heart.


Dog Hair

There's dog hair on my feet

There's dog hair everywhere
It's floating in the air
There's dog hair everywhere, everywhere



There's dog hair on my feet and on my legs

There's dog hair everywhere
It's floating in the air
There's dog hair everywhere, everywhere




There's dog hair on my feet and on my legs and on my tummy

There's dog hair everywhere
It's floating in the air
There's dog hair everywhere, everywhere





There's dog hair on my feet and on my legs and 
on my tummy and on my head


I've got dog hair everywhere
Am I a dog?
Hoo-woo!


*Photos by ldyck


Wednesday, April 7
Podcast Author Reading

Leanne Dyck

I can't drive. Before Mayne Island got a bus, how did I get home?

Sunday, April 11
Book Review




Rabbit Foot Bill
Helen Humphreys

A boy's friendship with a World War II veteran raises suspension but lasts a lifetime







Last week I listened to...

The March 27 episode of The Next Chapter


This week I'll listen to...

The April 3 episode of The Next Chapter

On my calendar...

Friday, April 15
Poets
Francine Merasty
Michelle Butler Hallett


Happy Easter!
May you find all your Easter eggs.


Like...

Writing Contests




Deadline May 1st

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Five Dollars (short story) by Leanne Dyck




Where do you buy your books?


The woman's cobalt jacket matches her cobalt purse which matches her cobalt hat and gloves. Her shoes are shiny black. Each morning she painstakingly polishes them restoring their shine. The man is in shades of gray--his clothes didn't start out that colour. This is his corner--home and office.

The woman studies the array of books on the cardboard box. She reads the sign written in pen--$5 for 1, $10 for 3. She puts a ten-dollar bill in the plastic jar, smiles at the man, and takes her books home.

Every day for weeks the woman continues to buy her books from the man. Until one day she finds no books only the plastic jar remains.

"Morning, Joe. Where are your books?"

"Morning, Veronica. Someone bought them all."

"Well, I've finished reading them. I'll just bring them all back." And she does--three books at a time--and she brings more.

Others notice Veronica's donations and add to Joe's collection.

After that Joe tells her, "Oh, no, you don't pay."

So she hides a five-dollar bill in each book--hopeful that Joe will find it after she leaves.



                                                                  photo by ldyck

On this blog in April...

Sunday, April 4

Poem

Dog Hair 

Leanne Dyck


Wednesday, April 7

Author reading

Island Storyteller (short story)

written and read by Leanne Dyck


Sunday, April 11

Book Review

Rabbit Foot Bill

Helen Humphreys


Wednesday, April 14

Author reading

Avalon (poem)

written and read by Leanne Dyck


Sunday, April 18

short story

Neighbourly

Leanne Dyck


Wednesday, April 21

Author reading

The Way of It (short story)

written and read by Leanne Dyck


Sunday, April 25

Guest Post

Savannah Cordova

How to Maintain Writing Productivity

Through Tough Times


Wednesday, April 28

Author reading

Her First Crush (poem)

written and read by Leanne Dyck


Sunday, March 21, 2021

Book Review: The Barren Grounds by David A Robertson (MG)

 The Barren Grounds is set in early November in Winnipeg and is about two Cree foster children--thirteen-year-old Morgan and twelve-year-old Eli.




The Barren Grounds

David A Robertson

Puffin

an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers

2020


Morgan has been in a string of seven foster homes since she was about three-years-old. She remembers very little about her life before foster care.

'"All I know is that my mom didn't want me."' (p. 13)

And it has taken an emotional toll on her.

'What's there about me for anybody to like? What do I even like about myself?' (p. 34)

After giving Morgan a gift of moccasins to celebrate her fourth month anniversary of being in his care, her white foster father James tells her:  '"We don't want you to feel disconnected from your culture."'

Morgan:  '"I don't even know my culture."'

Eli:  '"Who you are is still inside you."' (p. 52)


Eli has been living with Morgan, in foster care, for a week. Eli remembers his Cree culture; he still speaks the 'good words'--Swampy Cree. Can Eli lead Morgan back to her culture?


David A Robertson took inspiration from C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in his exploration of the foster system. The result--an unputdownable book.  

Difficult-to-love Morgan never-the-less wiggled her way into my heart from page one. She's a relatable character who grows through the course of the story. 

Courageous Morgan and compassionate Eli's journey has just begun. The Barren Grounds is the first book in the series. 


Author Pam Withers' interview with David A Robertson

Global Read Aloud 


On This Blog This Week


Wednesday, March 24

Podcast:  Author reading

Let the Sunshine in (poem)

Leanne Dyck

One of my favourite poems. Thank you for suggesting that I record it for this blog.


Sunday, March 28

Short story


Five Dollars (short story)

Leanne Dyck

Readers are a diverse population. What unites us is our love of books. 



Things I listened to last week...

I had fun learning about old Norse literature

and learning about old English literature

George does an entertaining job of capturing rural island life The Accidental Curator


Still listening to... Plan to listen to this week...

Writers Festival Radio:  Ottawa International Writers Festival

and

Penguin Podcast 





Are you following me?


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Twitter
Linked In





Sharing my Author Journey...

Dispatch, Hatch, Patch--2021 Manuscript Progress Report

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Catch It (short story) by Leanne Dyck

 

photo by ldyck


My brother has a new toy. It's made of wood and shaped like a 'v'. He throws it in the air and it comes back to him.

"It's very important that I catch it. It could take off my head," he tells me. "Indigenous Australians used it to hunt."

I threw it in the air but I didn't catch it. It didn't come back to me.

Now I can't go outside because it's waiting to take off my head.


More silliness...


I wrote this review in 1987 for the University of Winnipeg's Children's Literature course.


I would if I could

If I couldn't, how could I?

I couldn't, without I could, could I?

Could you, without you, could ye?

Could ye? Could ye?

Could you, without you could, could ye?


I love the nonsense of this nursery rhyme. It seems to flow in a silly fashion, begging to be told. It gives far more in fun and frolic than it ever demands of the listener. It does, however, have a message:  that it is silly and unnecessary to think too much. I agree whole-heartedly with its unmistakable logic. 


Wednesday, March 17

Podcast:  Author Reading

celebrating spring with...

 Like Magic (short story)




Sunday, March 21

Book Review

The Barren Grounds

David A Robertson

...is set in early November in Winnipeg and is about two Cree foster children--thirteen-year-old Morgan and twelve-year-old Eli.



                                                                                    photo by ldyck


Last week I enjoyed listening to...

2021 Diversity in Children's Literature Symposium

This week I look forward to continuing listening to...

Writers Festival Radio:  Ottawa International Writers Festival

and

Penguin Podcast 

Interviews with authors


photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

Falling in love with my current manuscript is like falling in love with a puppy with big paws. I just keep telling myself, "It just can't grow any bigger." ...and then it does. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Book Review: Dirty Birds (adventure, humour) by Morgan Murray

 If your taste in literature is twisted like mine, do yourself a favour and read Dirty Birds by Morgan Murray. You'll laugh your tail feathers off.




Dirty Birds

Morgan Murray

Breakwater Books

2020

Twenty-three-year-old Milton Ontario wants to become a poet like his hero, Leonard Cohen. So, in the fall of 2007, he leaves his basement apartment in his parents' house in Bellybutton, Saskatchewan. The bus he jumps onto takes him to Montreal--the most romantic city in Canada, or is it?

Milton is ridiculously unprepared to live in Montreal. He has no job prospects. He has barely a basic understanding of French. Fortunately, thanks to Craiglist, he does have a place to stay--or does he?

Dirty Birds is a dirty book with foul language and risque scenes. Shocking! I loved every page. In fact, I laughed at the beginning, the middle, and the end. And yet Dirty Birds is not fluff. Author Morgan Murray addresses some weighty questions--what is love and what is the meaning of life?

Will Ferguson describes Morgan Murray as Canada's Vonnegut. I've never read Vonnegut. (My husband thinks this is a crime.) I have read Tom Robbins. So I'd describe Morgan Murray as Canada's Tom Robbins or maybe he's Canada's Morgan Murray.


How did I find Dirty Birds?

It was on Canada Reads long-list.


Where did I get this book?

From the publisher Breakwater Books. You can buy it here and here and here.


What attracted me to this book?

I was born and raised in rural Manitoba. In my early twenties, I left to live--for nine months--in eastern Canada (Newfoundland, Ontario, Quebec). The people I met and the adventures I had rocked my world--much like Milton's world was rocked.


More about Dirty Birds...

Interviewed with Morgan Murray


Wednesday, March 10

Online Author Reading

Annie

Written and read by Leanne Dyck

What would you do to make a dream reality?


Sunday, March 14

Short Story

Catch It

Written by Leanne Dyck

a silly little story to make you giggle--or scratch your head


Preparing for Canada Reads

A series of 11 podcasts

How to tune in


This week I've enjoyed an entertaining and informative podcast...

On the Road with Penguin Classics

There's a collection of seven episodes in the first series and there's is a promise of more.

...And there's also...

Penguin Podcast

Interview with authors



photo by ldyck

Join me in celebrating International Women's Day...

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Who's Bigger? (short story) by Leanne Dyck

 What I learnt by watching children play...


photo by ldyck


Two children square off in the playground. 

"I'm bigger," says one.

"No, you're not." The other balances on tiptoes. "I am."

While hoping, "Now, I'm bigger."

While jumping, "Now, I am bigger."

"Now, I am. I am. I am. Me," they chorus as they leap for the sun.

Soon their chorusing is replaced by peals of laughter. Gone is the memory of who is bigger. Still, they jump. Until... They lie exhausted and content on the grass. 



'found art'

art by ?

photo by ldyck


March...

March 8             International Women's Day 

 March 8 - 11      Canada Reads



photo by ldyck

March on this blog...



March 3        Author Reading
                    The Lure of Yarn 
                    Leanne Dyck

March 7        Book Review
                        Dirty Birds
                    Morgan Murray

March 10       Author Reading
                       Annie
                        Leanne Dyck 

March 14        Short Story
                        Catch It
                        Leanne Dyck

March 17        Author Reading
                        Like Magic
                        Leanne Dyck

March 21         Book Review
                        The Barren Grounds
                        David A. Robertson

March 24        Author Reading
                        Let the Sunshine in
                        Leanne Dyck

March 28         Short Story
                        Five Dollars
                        Leanne Dyck

March 31        Author Reading
                        A Confession
                        Leanne Dyck


                    

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Book Review: The Parkour Club by Pam Withers and Arooj Hayat (YA)

 Building bridges of understanding with fast-paced prose.



Published in Canada by Pam Withers and Arooj Hayat

Published in 2020

Disclaimer:  Pam Withers and I are friends--and she gave me this book to review.

Bronte Miller's dad Frank is a famous war correspondent who covers all of the Middle East. A year ago Bronte moved with her parents to what Frank calls, '"one of the safest neighbourhoods in one of the safest cities in the Middle East."' (p.2)

Bronte loves her life in Alexandria, Egypt. She's actively involved in the Alexandria Parkour Academy and she even has a boyfriend.

Bronte describes Sarfraz, her 'secret boyfriend', as 'gentle and mysterious' (p. 6) Unfortunately, he's rather cold and distant to Bronte--even refusing to be seen with her in public.

When a bomb goes off in their neighbourhood, Bronte's mom Karen drags Bronte back home to Richland, Washington, USA. To put it mildly, Bronte is upset by this uprooting. So much so that Karen can't help but notice. She tells her daughter, '"Have you considered talking to a counsellor, Bronte? You seem to have anger issues, and you're sad and tired a lot."' (p. 31)

On the other hand...

Karam Saif is a new student at Three Rivers High School and is enrolled in Bronte's grade eleven class. 

Karam left all he knew in his beautiful city of Aden, Yemen behind him. His entire family was killed as they attempted to flee. He is now alone in what Bronte calls, 'A country that insists in believing that the desperate refugees fleeing from terrorists are the terrorists themselves.' (p. 129) And yet, with unshakable positivity, Karam is eager to embrace his new life.

Karam Saif is a Muslim refugee. Bronte Miller is a white privileged American. Can they build bridges of understanding?

Karam:  '"I believe parkour teaches us to incorporate unexpected obstacles without losing stride. It teaches flexibility and resilience and acceptance."' (p. 37)

Pam Withers writes in her Author Notes:  'we [both she and her co-author Arooj Hayat] both hope the book will inspire cross-cultural, cross-religious insight and tolerance.' 


Interview with Pam Withers


on Wednesday, February 24

Online Author Reading of...

photo by ldyck

Ice Angel (short story)

by Leanne Dyck

meeting a magical child on a dark night


on Wednesday, February 28

Short Story...

photo by ldyck

Who's Bigger

learning from watching children play


photo by ldyck

Are you following me?




photo by ldyck




Sharing my author journey...



"Where are you from?" is a question I'm eager to answer...

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Her First Crush (poem) by Leanne Dyck

 Do you remember giggling? Do you remember your heart soaring? Do you remember your first crush?




The Crush

She meets with other girls to speak his name,
to giggle, 
to share their dreams of him.


Seeing him in the schoolyard,
in the classroom
makes her heart race


If he smiles at her
If he says, hi
Her heart dances
It hops
It skips
It flies out her mouth
spins around three-times in mid-air
until it lands back in her throat to rest in her chest


At home
her lips against her palm
she practices kissing him


She falls asleep
 arms wrapped around
what others see as a pillow
but what she imagines is his chest


In her dreams
they are alone 
together


He fills her thoughts
enlivens her dreams
for a week
a month
a year
until another boy captures her eye


Wednesday, February 17

Virtual Author Reading

to celebrate

I Read Canadian Day


Storytime (short story)

by Leanne Dyck

And...

A Bedtime Story (short story)

by Leanne Dyck


Sunday, February 21

Book Review

The Parkour Club

by Pam Withers and Arooj Hayat


photo by ldyck

Are you following me?


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Sharing my Author Journey...


'selfie' photo by ldyck

A friend has dubbed Mayne Island's barely there snowflakes "snowflickers". Wanting this word to catch on, I've been working it

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Book Review: How It All Blew Up (YA) by Arvin Ahmadi

 How It All Blew Up was based on author Arvin Ahamdi's 2018 trip to Rome and is about learning how to live your truth.

'"It's hard enough living one life; no one should have to go through the trouble of living two."' (p. 260)

Eighteen-year-old, Amir Azadi is Muslim, Iranian, and gay. It's too big a mouthful for him to repeat to his parents so he keeps the gay part a secret. He keeps his secret until he is blackmailed. Then he...runs away. He runs away to Rome; he runs into the heart of his tribe.


How It All Blew Up

Arvin Ahmadi

Published by Viking

an imprint of Penguin Random House

Published in 2020

How It All Blew Up is composed of short chapters. I globbed the story up in huge mouthfuls. This reader-friendly book explores meaty topics such as prejudice. What it's like to be Muslim in North America. What it's like to be a gay youth with traditional, religious parents. Thank you Arvin Ahmadi for helping to open my eyes. 


Virtual Author Reading

Wednesday, February 10


by Leanne Dyck

This short story was inspired by my life



Poem
Sunday, February 14


The Crush (poem)
by Leanne Dyck

This poem was inspired by St. Valentine's Day
Do you remember your first crush?


photo by ldyck

Are you following me?


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Twitter
Linked In



photo by ldyck

Sharing my Author Journey...

I summarized my 2021 writing goals as hatch (writing a manuscript), dispatch (sending a manuscript to publishers), and patch (rewriting a manuscript). All January I...