Billboard Express by Sigmund Brouwer and Cindy Morgen

March 1, 2018


Billboard Express by Sigmund Brouwer &Cindy Morgan

Published by Orca Book Publishers; c2016 ; 118p.                    ISBN: 9781459811089  Series: Orca Limelights

Billboard Express, debuts Cindy Morgan, award-winning singer-songwriter/wife to Sigmund Brouwer, as co-author, in this new title in the Orca Limelight series
This tale follows a character that surfaced briefly in ‘Rock the Boat’ by Brouwer.

Charlene Adams, now known as ‘Elle McWilliam’, singer/songwriter has all the ingredients to fulfill her dream of being a big country music star. She is smart, strong voiced character, yet is plagued by underling insecurities that intrude on her as she struggles with the hustle and idiosyncrasies’ that make up the Nashville music industry.

Elle must find the courage and heart within herself in order to follow the words her mother told her “be true to yourself“!

The strength of this narrative lies in the fact that Morgan’s familiarity with the whole concept of what a singer/songerwriter has to endure in this industry shines through and is reflective in what the central character, Elle must discover.

This is a highly engaging and empowering read for any young person who has a dream!
Highly Recommended for Intermediate and Senior readers! Five stars!


[ARC supplied By Orca Book Publishers in exchange for an honest review]


Avalanche! by Terry Lynn Johnson

March 1, 2018

AvalancheAvalanche! by Terry Lynn Johnson [Series: Survivor Diaries: Book 2]

Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: c2018: 104p.

Avalanche!! The word alone conjures up a combination of unspeakable beauty, power and terror.

Avalanche! is the second book in the acclaimed action-adventure series, Survivor Diaries by Terry Lynn Johnson.

Readers will be riveted by this narrative at the start from the opening tantalizing sentence “Tell me how you survived the avalanche?“.  The descriptive action and suspense continues  until the last page is reached!

The protagonist of this survivor diary is twelve year-old twin Ashley Hilder and her interview sets the stage for an engaging first-person narrative. Being told from this perspective heightens the reader’s anxiety levels as they become a silent witness to a family ski holiday where a rash ‘competitive’ decision has unforeseen consequences  for [both]  brother and sister.

The strength of Ashley’s character is a reflection of her intense training as a skier to always ‘be prepared’.  As the nightmare of the avalanche unfolds, this instinctive  reflex allows her to think logically and not panic.

Throughout the story, the author has interwoven all sorts of survival skills needed to survive such an event. All of the techniques that Ashley displays, are the reactions needed to get through an catastrophic event, such as being caught in an avalanche

Reader’s will add Ms. Johnson’s Avalanche and the books in Survivor Diaries, to Lauren Tarshis’ series “I survived” and Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet books.


Highly Recommended  for any reader from grade 3-6!

The Land beyond the Wall : an immigration story

February 17, 2018

the land beyond the wallThe Land beyond the wall: an immigration story     by Veronika Martenova Charles

Published by : Nimbus Publishing, Halifax c2017 [32p]

This is the tender story of a young girl named Emma. As a consequence of her parents actions, she is orphaned and sent to live with her aunt. Living in a practical world, Emma’s dreams of becoming an artist by adding ‘colour’ to her otherwise ‘gray’ life is her wish to go to art school. However, in the world of her Aunt, dreams cannot exist along side a world of  common sense. This does not deter Emma…and against great odds she escapes these confines and arrives in a new land. Here she is welcomed with kindness and compassion. It is here, that her greatest desire … to add color…allows her to ‘find her voice’!

The vibrant and expressive illustrations lend an added sensitivity to the story that allows the reader to become empathic with Emma. Though this story has a magical-like thread woven through it, I think that the ‘wall’ and Emma’s journey is symbolic of many of the obstacles that many families and children may endure while escaping their past and seeking a way to follow their dreams.

Highly Recommended for Primary and Junior students! [grades 2-6]


Counting on Katherine : how Katherine Johnson saved Apollo 13

February 16, 2018

290FEC1F-5694-43D6-BB3E-8FCFEE1D2760Counting on Katherine : how Katherine Johnson saved Apollo 13  by Helaine Becker / illustrated by:                   Dow Phumiruk  [ARC]

Published by: Christy Ottaviano Books [Henry Holt & Co.] : c2018

Junior Library Guild Selection

As the information from the back of this book states, “Katherine Johnson is the extraordinary mathematician who calculated the flight path for NASA’s first Apollo moon landing”, but this exciting new story is so much more than a book just full of information! Author, Becker and illustrator Phumiruk are a wonderful team! Beautiful artwork  provides the perfect accompaniment  to the succinct sentences and together they paint a picture of an inquisitive, insatiable person whose boundless curiousity about the world her  was never quenched.

Counting on Katherine” is a brilliant read. Ms. Becker has skillfully woven a biographical narrative that is totally approachable to the reader. It is an empowering story for all girls, underlining that dreams can come true….to dream big and to keep chasing your dream. Persistence, courage and determination such as shown by Katherine Johnson allowed her to attain a goal that opened the door not only for women of colour, but for all women.

Thank you for gifting young readers with empowerment!

Highly recommended for all elementary school and public libraries as a ‘sophisticated picture book!

Also a movie tie-in: “Hidden Figures”

A World Below

February 15, 2018


A World Below : by Wesley T. King

Published by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books  c.2018;  274p.  [Ebook generously supplied by NetGalley] : to be released March2018

[A 2018 Junior Library Guild selection]

From celebrated, multi-nominated award winning author, Wesley King, comes his latest middle grade adventure, “A World Below“. The ethereal-like cover only hints at what is the story could be like between the pages!

Readers will be shocked, riveted and intrigued from the first page : “consider everyone on this list missing or deceased.  Notify parents immediately. Pictures for identification of bodies may be required.” 

As the title implies, the majority of this fast paced adventure story dives deep below ‘terra ferma’ and takes the world of caving, caverns, and tunnels to a whole new level! The author`s effective use of vivid description, intense action and suspense continually builds with each alternating ‘time’ stamped chapter.

For myself, A World Below is a cool mix of  Arthur Conon Doyle’s The Lost World and Jules Verne’s “Journey to the centre of the earth” and Edgar Rice Burrough’s ‘The Lost Continent’ — a true science fiction fantasy adventure tale.

This is a story of challenges and discovery that will captivate even the most reluctant of readers!

Highly Recommended for all Middle Grade readers who wish to go ‘spelunking’!!


Booktrailer: A World Below

Don’t tell the Enemy

February 10, 2018

EnemyDon’t tell the Enemy by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Published by Scholastic Canada; 184p. c2018 [paperback]

This is the latest release by powerhouse historical fiction author, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. Though this is slotted as a middle grade story, the power of this read lends itself to being read by readers of any age group or category. Skrypuch has expertly captured  the torment and emotions as “war rages around Krystia’s town, where her uncle and cousin have already died at the hands of the Soviet and Nazi invaders”.  The rawness and brutality of war is not tempered. With an uncompromising honesty, Skrypuch reveals to the reader, the merciless barbaric demeanor of occupying Nazi forces and the affects upon the inhabitants of the Ukrainian town.  However the savagery of these times is offset throughout the book, as the reader gets glimpses of humanity in unexpected places.

As the author’s note reveal’s this is the inspiring true story of Kateryna Sikorska and her daughter Krystia and it is a story that rings with deep emotion, extraordinary courage, determination, and the strength of the human spirit.

Highly Recommended for Junior and Intermediate students!


Harry’s hiccups by Jean Little

February 9, 2018

harryshiccupsHarry’s Hiccups by Jean Little;

illustrated by  Joe Weissmann

Published by Orca Book Publishers

[ARC] to be released April 2018



Something that almost everyone has experienced at onetime or another. In this new tale by author Jean Little, ‘Harry’s hiccups’, the main character, Harry, is desperate to have this reflexive sound stop! Many of the so-called solutions will make any reader smile, then giggle out loud, as they follow along with Harry as he tries one remedy after another.

The expressively vibrant and colourful illustrations by Joe Weissmann, perfectly capture the zaniness of each proposed solution and culminate in the last page with an unexpected laugh out loud surprise for the reader!

Student tested! Student approved with….

Highly recommended ages 4-8     A story of complete fun, smiles & giggles!