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This article was published 20/6/2015 (1612 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Patti Grayson is a local writer whose first work of juvenile fiction, Ghost Most Foul (Coteau, 184 pages, $11, paperback) shows talent and promise.
Summer Widden is crazy about basketball and new coach Nola insists their Grade 8 team can win the provincial championships. She names 14-year-old Summer as captain, emphasizing, "It isn't whether you win or lose, it's how you win the game." But Nola is killed in a plane crash on Christmas Eve; Summer is devastated then horrified as she starts seeing Nola's ghost on the basketball court.
Grayson does an excellent job of portraying Summer's feelings: disbelief, frustration, anger and grief. Tension mounts as the finals near. She can't convince her physician mother that she doesn't have a medical problem.
The author walks a fine line between realism and fantasy but succeeds in writing a story that will resonate with teens, especially those active in sports.
Pam Withers is a B.C. author and outdoor enthusiast whose previous book, First Descent, was an action-packed exciting read for young adult readers. Her latest offering, Andreo's Race (Tundra Books, 205 pages, $15, paperback), while not quite up to her previous standard, is a satisfying narrative that will resonate with extreme sport enthusiasts.
Andreo is a 16-year-old high school student whose family is into competitive bike racing. Adopted as a baby from Bolivia, he's excited to learn their next race will take place near the town where he was born. As he searches for his birth mother, he learns there's a criminal investigation into the illegal selling of Bolivian babies. Was he one of them?
Andreo's search is interspersed with accounts of his family's hair-raising races over steep, dangerous roads and unmarked trails. Withers has been involved in extreme sports and has written 15 adventure novels for teens, aiming especially at reluctant readers.
While First Nations myths and legends have appeared in print for many years, Inuit legends have been scarce — until recently. How Things Came to Be: Inuit Stories of Creation by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley (Inhabit Media, 80 pages, $17, hardcover) is a well-written, engaging series of stories that closes the gap.
Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley was born in an Arctic wilderness camp; she and husband Sean studied Inuit folklore extensively. The nine creation tales are ably illustrated by Washington-based Emily Fiegenschuh and Ontario-born Patricia Ann Lewis-Macdougall. They combine a feeling of inestimable power with the menace of natural elements such as lightning, ocean waves, and marauding polar bears.
Reptile Flu (Second Story Press, 24 pages, $16, hardcover) is the arresting title of Toronto author Karen Cole's picture book. A young boy is terrified of reptiles, but his class is slated to visit a reptile museum. Only the sensitive intervention of his class teacher helps him overcome his fears. Art by Shanghai-born, Toronto-based Qin Leng adds to the story.
Burlington, Ont., artist and author Rebecca Bender has produced a third book for youngest readers about her popular characters, Giraffe and Bird. With gorgeous illustrations done in vibrant acrylics, Giraffe Meets Bird (Pajama Press, 32 pages, $19, hardcover) tells how an unlikely friendship developed between these two.
Good for reading aloud, this vibrant picture book tells an important lesson: despite minor clashes, true friends will be there when you most need them.
Helen Norrie is a Winnipeg writer and reader. Her column appears on the third Saturday of the month.
Updated on Saturday, June 20, 2015 at 8:09 AM CDT: Formatting, adds book jacket.