Mr. Crum's Potato Predicament Anne Renaud & Felicita Sala

We are warned in the endpapers. 
"The story you are about to savor is a fictional tale with a helping of truth."
It sets the tone for this delectable reading adventure. 

Mr George Crum really was a renowned chef of mixed Native American and African American descent. Before he started cooking he had many other adventures, but those are not included in this book. 

He owned a famous restaurant where people came from far away to taste his inventive "sorbets, souffles, stews, succotashes, ragouts, and goulashes." He introduced them to all kinds of strange delicacies. 

Then came the day Filbert P. Horsefeathers, a peculiarly dressed man, came into the cafe and ordered, "Just potatoes."

George tried feeding him potato wedges fried in lard, but the customer sent them back. George then fried potatoes with thinner wedges. Again the man declined them. 

Eventually George created the perfect potato chip that satisfied the "finicky, persnickety Filbert Punctilious Horsefeathers."

George Crum was known to have a playful sense of humour, and the illustrations in this book capture this spirit delightfully. 

I love the luscious language. I've given you a hint earlier on as to the alliteration, but the interjections used by Gladys, the waitress are just as priceless:

Well, huckleberry biscuits!
Well, flying flapjacks!

I urge readers to search out the definition of horsefeathers and other words in the book. Never will using a dictionary be so much fun!

The book begs to be read outloud. The reader will have as much fun, if not more, as the listeners. 

The backmatter contains additional (and authentic) information about this remarkable person. I hope the book inspires young readers to learn more about this fascinating person. It did me. That's how I learned all about what he did before he took to cooking!

Letters to a Prisoner by Jacques Goldstyn

This wordless book tells the story of a man who held political views in opposition to the government. The differences between the two stances are portrayed symbolically by people carrying signs with orange circles and an army with black squares. During a peaceful protest the man was arrested and thrown in prison.

The illustrations show us what it was like for him in solitary confinement and capture his descent from anger to despair.

His memories while in prison show us the man as an ordinary person with a loving family. It is a reminder that, "there but for fortune, may go you or I."

All kinds of people, old & young, famous and ordinary, from across the globe write letters in many different languages to the man in prison. When the prison is bombarded by these letters, the prisoner is finally freed.

The book ultimately highlights the importance of Amnesty International's Write for Rights campaign and shows us the power of letter writing to make change. It does this by bolstering hope and reminding prisoners that they are not alone. Ultimately it can force governments to release people and change their policies.

At the end of the book is a letter from the author providing more information about Amnesty International's Write for Rights campaign.

#IMWAYR September 18, 2017

#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

The tomatoes are finished! We now have 71 litres of tomato juice, 36 litres of canned tomatoes, 41 half litres of tomato sauce, 34 half litres of salsa, and 10 litres of tomato soup to get us through this year. Hopefully most of it will last a couple of years, b.ut I'm not holding my breath. 

I've spent this last weekend with four fabulous teacher librarian friends on Pender Island in a spacious glorious house. There were walks and talks, lots of time to read, fabulous food and a few bottles of wine. Saturday we headed off to the local farmer's market where unfortunately the gluten free vendor didn't show up. I suppose that is fortunate for my waistline. We explored the community thrift shop and then went in to explore the local library. Almost all of us headed straight to the children's department. I sat down and read the following couple of picture books before browsing the MG and YA novels. They have a remarkably fine collection of relevant books! 


4 stars
The Tin Forest by Helen Ward & Wayne Anderson (Illustrations)

This is a kind of steampunk picture book. It's the story of an old man who lives in a semi dystopian world next to a garbage dump. One day he is inspired to start creating art from metal refuse. He fashions flowers, trees and animals. Eventually he creates a world that attracts real animals and his artificial garden is transformed into a real one. 
Anderson's illustrations are richly detailed and gorgeous. Just look at the following illustration!

4 stars

Fossil by Bill Thomson

If you remember Chalk by Bill Thomson, you will have some idea of what this book is like. The illustrations are jaw droppingly stunning! In this wordless book a young boy is walking on a beach with his dog. He breaks open a rock and a fossil of a fern is revealed. A prehistoric fern appears. Then as he breaks open another fossil and finds a fossil of a large dragonfly, a huge prehistoric dragonfly begins flying around him. When he breaks open the fossil of a pteranodon, he and his dog are in serious trouble. 


4.5 stars
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

Imagine the future, 40 years from now, wherein climate change and global warming have caused the polar ice to melt. Massive storms continue to destroy coastal landscapes and the earth has responded with its own kind of the destruction: earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Corporate entities have poisoned the water supplies and sucked dry what fresh water was left in Northern Canada. White people have lost their ability to dream. They send out recruiters to capture indigenous people and bring them to  schools where their dream marrow is harvested. 
In the story we follow French, a young indigenous man, and the small group he has banded together with as they flee into the far reaches of the Northern Ontario wilderness in an effort to escape from the recruiters. They are unaware of the power they bring with them. 
There are direct connections between this book and residential schools of our past. I highly recommend this profound book to adult and YA readers. I would love to read it with a book club. 

4 stars
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau & Elizabeth Morton (Narrator)

In this futuristic dystopian novel the world has been nearly decimated by nuclear war. Cia Val, and a few others from their small community of Five Lakes, have been chosen to participate in 'The Testing', a process to determine who will get to attend university. It turns out to be a cutthroat endeavour. Cia is an admirable character with strong moral fibre. Her biggest challenge is to determine who she can trust. Fans of The Hunger Games will probably like this. I might even go on to read the next in the series. 

4 stars
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

This is a sweet coming of age romantic fiction that follows the formula set out in romantic Korean dramas. Teen romance is not my favourite genre, but I ended up enjoying this anyway. Thankfully there isn't excessive amounts of angst or heavy breathing. The diverse collection of characters is endearing in spite of, or perhaps because of their flaws. The only somewhat snarky relationship ends up getting resolved positively. I adored the relationships between Desi Lee and her father, and you will too.  


I'm in the middle of Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki. I've just started reading Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson and listening to Textbook by Amy Krause. I'm plugging away at The Inconvenient Indian.


Democracy by Nancy MacLean will be my next audiobook. Other than that I'll just tackle what's in the pile and try to get my netgalley collection under control. I have to work on finishing up and posting a mess of reviews!


#MUSTREADIN2017 25/36

#MUSTREADNFIN2017 7/12 1 in progress

50 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 28/50 1 in progress

Chocolate Lily (CL) 51/51

Big Book Challenge 4/6

Goodreads Reading Challenge 292/333

#IMWAYR September 11, 2017

#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

400 pounds of tomatoes is a lot of tomatoes. Even when you try and purchase them ripe, they always need to ripen more. They were picked up on Tuesday, and I started canning some of them Saturday, but they could have used more time. On Sunday I made 34 jars of salsa. I probably shouldn't have thrown the scotch bonnets into the mix, but my family is always complaining that it isn't hot enough. Today, we will be turning 180 pounds into tomato juice. I probably won't get around to respond to everyone's posts till later on in the day, and maybe not even until later on in the week. On Tuesday I will make tomato sauce with the 100 pounds of romas. It will all be worth it, but right now I'm almost too tired to read.



4 stars
That Neighbor Kid by Daniel Miyares

Delightful. Magical. Heartwarming. This almost wordless book shows a boy and a girl becoming friends while working together to build a tree house.

4 stars
The Miracle of Bears by Wolf Erlbruch

This sweet and somewhat humorous picture book is delightful. I was told many of these stories about where babies come from when I was a child, including that children were picked from cabbage patches. I guess a turnip patch is similar. Still, it's the illustrations that make this book for me. It's where all the humor comes from and that bear is just adorable!

5 stars
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

This book is as good if not better than everyone says it is. These beautiful illustrations just grab my heart. The relationship between the father and son squeeze all kinds of love into it. This is a must purchase for all libraries.

4 stars
Morris Mole by Dan Yaccarino

Morris might be smaller than his brother moles, but he also happens to be smarter. It's a good thing for them because when Morris heads off on his own, not only does he find food, he finds friendship.
I really need to read more Dan Yaccarino.


4 stars
Coral Reefs by Jason Chin

This book is set up like Chin's Redwoods. In this one a young girl in a library begins to read a book about coral reefs and ends up transported into one. The book is full of information about the different kinds of coral and the many animals that make their home on the reefs. The back matter contains additional information about how coral reefs are threatened, and detailed information about the symbiotic partnership between coral and algae. I also appreciate the author's note where he writes about the research he went through and provides a list of books and websites he used.

4 stars
Mr. Crum's Potato Predicament by Anne Renaud & Felicita Sala (Illustrator) (Netgalley)

This is an imagined story of George Crum, a renowned chef of mixed Native American and African American descent, and how he invented potato chips. I've misplaced my notes on this netgalley title, so I'll have to go and reread it before writing up a more thorough review. I remember that I enjoyed the illustrations!


4 stars
Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee

Kudos to Barbara Dee for writing a bisexual character in a book appropriate for elementary school readers.
In the midst of a production of Romeo and Juliet, Mattie, a smart grade eight girl, discovers that she doesn't have a crush on Elliott who she has been swooning over for the past year. Instead she has a crush on Gemma, the girl playing Juliet.
Mattie's awareness of being bisexual is really not such a big deal here. Sure there is the usual teen age angst about romance, but overall, Mattie's attachment to Gemma and fear of being found out by others seems pretty sensible. This is especially true once Mattie ends up taking on the lead role of Romeo.
I appreciate how supportive and matter of fact teachers and other students are about sexual identity.
Unfortunately this cover doesn't do this book any justice. The characters look more like they are in grade four than in grade 8. This is very sad, because it's actually a pretty good book.

3.5 stars
The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee by Erin Petti

This was almost too creepy for me, but then, I am not a fan of creepy books except in certain circumstances. When a strange woman sells jewelry box to Thelma's father, something doesn't seem right. When her father disappears into that night, Thelma has to set out to rescue him. In the process she learns a lot about herself, her family, and the world around her.
This book will appeal to fans of the Serafina series by Robert Beatty.

5 stars
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

I almost don't know what to say about this book. It is exquisitely written. It's deep, rich and philosophical. It's the story of a girl baby left in the forest by her community. Like the many children before her, she was rescued by an old witch who accidentally enmagicked her. Luna grew up in a loving relationship with the witch, a tiny dragonling, and a bog creature. There is a young man who can't get over the trauma of leaving her there. There is her traumatized mother. And then there is the scheming evil witch who masterminds the abandonment of the children in the first place. I loved this book, but I'm not sure how much elementary school students will appreciate it.

4 stars
White Cat by Holly Black &  Jesse Eisenberg (Narrator)

I forget how much I like Holly Black until I read another of her books. Cassel is the youngest in a family of people who are curse workers. They are criminals who each have their own special magical talent. all they have to do is touch someone with their bare hand. Cassel is the only one who doesn't have a talent. Then he starts sleepwalking and having strange dreams. Something weird is going on with his brothers, and it's be up to him to figure it out and fix it.


5 stars
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

This book made me weep. I wept from the get go. I wept for Saul Indian Horse's missing siblings, for his damaged parents, for his stalwart grandmother.
I wept for him and the other children at St Jerome's Residential School.
My eyes filled with tears when his hockey teammates told Saul he had to go and play with the big boys and get out - if only so the rest of them could live some of their dreams through him.
It was racism, not lack of skill that sabotaged him.
I wept when that same racism and secret pain and horror drove him into the bosom of alcohol. While reading of his descent into alcoholism, it's clear that these words come from someone who has been there.
I wept when Saul finally understood what he had been skating from. I wept when he returned home to his adopted family.
Richard Wagamese could write. I'm so sorry that he is gone.


4 stars
I'm Just a Person by Tig Notaro

I knew nothing about Tig Notaro before reading this book. She is a comedian who takes us through a horrific year in her life. Imagine dealing with pneumonia, a sinus infection, C. Diff., a romantic break up, her mother's death, and cancer.
I'm impressed by her stark uncompromising honesty as much as by her deep wells of compassion and generosity.
I'm thankful to my niece, who blogs as Casey the Lesbrarian, for bringing it to my attention.


I took a break from reading The Inconvenient Indian while reading Indian Horse. It was just too much. Anyway, I'm back reading that and just started I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo. I'm listening to The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau.


I'll be starting The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline. I also need to finish Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson. I've got a number of audiobooks on hold and am the next in line for many of them. I'm hoping that Libba Bray's Beauty Queens is next. With all the furor over the dumb idea to remake Lord of the Flies with girls, I realized I haven't read it yet.


#MUSTREADIN2017 24/36 1 in progress

#MUSTREADNFIN2017 7/12 1 in progress

50 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 27/50 1 in progress

Chocolate Lily (CL) 51/51

Big Book Challenge 4/6

Goodreads Reading Challenge 287/333


Last January I joined Carrie Gelson at There's a Book for That, and other readers who blog about books, to commit to reading specific books on our ever increasing (at least mine is) Want to Read list on Goodreads. Last January I created two lists, one for fiction, and one for nonfiction. You can see my original lists here. Here is how I am doing so far. 

#MustReadIn2017 FICTION

Well, at least I'm not as far behind this time as I was at the Spring MustRead update! In fact, I'm almost caught up. Well I will be caught as soon as I am finished with the pile of books sitting on my shelf waiting for me. At our last update I was far behind, but since then I have read 15 more books, bringing me to 23 of the 36 I put on my list. To be on top of my schedule I should be at 25, but what are two books? Catching up hasn't been a hardship since all of these were absolutely amazing. I can't begin to compare them. They are all of them fabulous reads for different reasons. 

That said, there are two that have especially stuck with me. 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is going to be, flat out, one of the most important books published this year. If you haven't read this book, it should be on your list.

I've recently finished Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. This book has been around since 2012. It is a heart wrenching, intimate look at the horror and damage wrought by the residential school system. Load up on tissues before you start. 

Some of these authors intimidate me with their brilliant talent. 

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore was hilarious and profound all at the same time. 

Tim Tingle's storytelling in House of Purple Cedar is just about the finest I've come across in agesRose, the narrator relates the events of a time that was filled with evil and racism for the Choctaw people.

I don't think I have to capacity to appreciate the quality of writing in Madeleine Thien's Do Not Say We Have Nothing. It follows a Chinese family across time from the rise of the Communist Party through to the massacre at Tiananmen Square. 

The three graphic memoirs on this list were wonderful glimpses into other people's lives. 

Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi, is a fascinating look at Iran during and just after the revolution. 

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by 

The MG novels on this list are peopled with brilliant characters. 

Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles by 

Melanie Conklin shows a family in the middle of intense stress while the youngest of them goes through cancer treatment. 

Odin's Ravens by K. L. Armstrong isn't my usual fare, but I still enjoyed this fast paced adventure novel based on characters from Norse mythology. 

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz is the reason I keep participating in this challenge. This Hansel and Gretel retelling is dark, twisted, and hilariously unputdownable. 

The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee by Erin Petti was almost to creepy for me. I am pretty sure this is just the first in a series about a girl who discovers that she is more than she thought she was. 

Two of these are perfect for younger readers. 

Piper Green from Ellen Potter's Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: Going places, is one of my favourite literary characters for the younger set. Read them with your kids and you will all be happy. 

In A Boy Called Bat by by Elana K. Arnold, A young boy on the autism spectrum nurtures a newborn skunk. 

I have just started reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. 

I swear to be on track again by the end of next week. 

#MustReadIn2017 Non-Fiction

I planned to read 12 nonfiction titles this year. I'm almost on track here having read seven so far. Plus I have one on the go. I don't think I will finish them all, but we shall see. 

These were also fabulous reads. A couple of them broke my heart. 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi was a poignant look into the world of a man dealing with cancer. 

I know that Still Alice by Lisa Genova isn't really non fiction, but it does reveal all kinds of truths about Alzheimer's. Besides, since I have nonfiction on my other shelf, I've left it here.  

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel & Melissa Sweet tells the story of union organizer Clara Lemlich. It is a must purchase book for anyone who's raising young activists

I wish I had read The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin before I was retired. Actually, if you work with other people in any way, you should read this book. 

At Home by Bill Bryson looks at how technology and culture have changed and influenced us over time. I have him to thank for the spray bottles of bleach I keep in my kitchen and bathrooms.

I have The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King on the go right now. 

I'm looking forward to reading how the rest of you are doing!