Courage, resilience in boxcar boy’s story

Courage, resilience in boxcar boy's story

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Local author MaryLou Driedger used her grandfather’s story to help her write Lost on the Prairie (Wandering Fox/Heritage House, 224 pages, $15, paperback). He was left behind in a disconnected boxcar as the family travelled from Kansas to Saskatchewan.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/07/2021 (501 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Local author MaryLou Driedger used her grandfather’s story to help her write Lost on the Prairie (Wandering Fox/Heritage House, 224 pages, $15, paperback). He was left behind in a disconnected boxcar as the family travelled from Kansas to Saskatchewan.

In Driedger’s mid-level novel, set in 1907, 12-year-old Peter Schmidt faces the same calamity. There’s plenty of action and suspense as Peter spends time with an Indigenous family, helps rescue a man from quicksand and gets stranded on a broken Ferris wheel.

Peter shows resourcefulness and courage as he faces numerous hazards and learns about places (including early Winnipeg) he never knew existed. Readers ages 8-12 will find excitement on every page as they trace Peter’s journey north.

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A hint of the supernatural adds spice to any novel, and Prince Edward Island-born Regina M. Hansen includes plenty of it in The Coming Storm (Atheneum, 288 pages, $25, hardcover).

Beet (Beatrice) MacNeil isn’t surprised to see her old friend Gerry appear soaking wet outside her P.E.I. cottage until she sees his eyes and realizes he’s not alive. As events unfold, a strange woman moves into a nearby home, a baby boy is threatened and Beet survives an encounter with an undersea monster that tries to drown her.

Weaving together a number of traditional maritime folktales, Hansen raises the temperature of mystery and mayhem as Beet struggles to keep her family safe. Written for ages 12 and up, this is a tale that will make readers keep their lights on in the dark. Hansen has written a number of ghostly tales specializing in witchcraft, vampires and fairies. She now lives in Somerville, Mass.

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Those unforgettable B&B owners Winnipeg-born Bill Richardson and artist Bill Pechet have produced a deceptively simple little book, Hare B&B (Running the Goat, 64 pages, $23, hardcover) that will amuse any age level, but especially six- to eight-year-olds.

Only Richardson the poet could come up with eight rhyming names for the hares in this story as they battle a wily coyote, who comes to their B&B with malicious intent. You’ll laugh aloud and enjoy Pechet’s dainty illustrations.

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Eleven-year-old Anna is preparing to enter middle school as her best friends and family are changing. In Anna Analyst (Great Plains Publications, 112 pages, $12, paperback), by Calgary author Patti Edgar, Anna tries to solve her problems by analyzing handwriting.

She’s determined to keep two tortoises that live in her room, despite her parents’ plan to remove them. While her best friend Lana wants to try on makeup and new clothes, Anna wants everything to stay the same. Seeking answers in her book on graphology (handwriting), she blames others until she analyses her own signature.

Mid-level readers (8-12) will sympathize with Anna’s trials.

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What will make us less reliant on plastic? For Isley, a young girl who lives close to the ocean, it’s the sight of a whale dying on the beach because its stomach is full of discarded cups, bottles and trash.

No More Plastic (Pajama Press, 32 pages, $23, hardcover) by Ontario author and illustrator Alma Fullerton, is set in Prince Edward Island.

Isley is determined to educate her neighbours about the dangers to the environment of discarded plastic. She decides to make a life-size whale sculpture out of plastic refuse. It takes her many months but when she’s finished, others remember the dead whale and realize the results of their carelessness.

Fullerton provides ways even children can help: by taking their school lunches in lidded containers instead of plastic wrap, for example, or using refillable water bottles. She reinforces her message by making her vividly coloured illustrations from sand, moss and repurposed plastic. Ages 4-7.

Helen Norrie is a former teacher/librarian who hopes sandy beaches here will be free of plastic trash.

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