Our annual review of new books by local authors and illustrators
By Tracey Fockler
With more than two dozen titles by local authors on the bookshelf this holiday season, it’s a banner year for shopping – and reading – local. That’s especially true if you have young readers in the household. Authors and illustrators have been hard at work in the hills turning out mysteries, picture books, and early-readers that will keep your youngsters snuggled against you to turn the pages, and older kids up with a flashlight under the covers.
For grown-ups there’s also a treasure trove of good reading of both fiction and non-fiction – with the latter leaning heavily to explorations of Ontario, past and present.
Light the fire, put up your feet – and enjoy!
The Ways I Will Love You, illustrated by Mary Jane Gerber
Promises from mother to baby warm the heart in this tender board book for both moms and young ones alike. From picnics and crayons to giggles and tears, the simple rhymes are a pledge to a childhood full of love. Orangeville’s Mary Jane Gerber brings the words alive with colourful images of seaside jaunts and playtime with the family’s loyal Sheltie dog. Lively details surrounding Rachel Boehm’s text create pretty frames of starfish, puzzles, pancakes and lettered blocks.
The Ways I Will Love You is the perfect book for quiet time on mom’s lap where pudgy little fingers can point to the pictures and help turn the pages. (Orca Book Publishers, $9.95)
The Fossil Hunters, by Marilyn Helmer
Shelley’s plans for a summer of fun at the cottage with her cousin Kyle come to a screech-ing halt when she discovers Kyle’s friend, Marcus, is staying with them as well. Snooty Marcus doesn’t like any of Shelley’s game ideas and sulks when she finds the best fossil rock. When her special rock goes missing, Shelley and Marcus must find a way to trust each other, maybe even become friends, before they ruin the visit for everyone.
Marilyn Helmer combines a lively story with a gentle lesson about jealousy in this chapter book for early readers. The author lives just west of Head-waters. Her previous book, Sharing Snowy, published in 2008, featured illustrations by Alton’s Kasia Charko. (Orca Book Publishers, $6.95)
Mystery at Saddle Creek, by Shelley Peterson
Fourteen-year old Bird Simms is thrilled to be reunited with her beloved horse, Sundancer, on her aunt’s Belfountain farm. Envisioning a summer filled with trail rides and equestrian shows, she’s shocked when a neighbour is attacked and the community falls into chaos. Secrets – some involving her own family – are exposed, and Bird finds herself drawn into danger. Can she summon the courage to help? Or will the fears that rendered her mute for most of her young life resurface and drive her back into her shell of silence?
Mystery at Saddle Creek is a winning addition to the Saddle Creek Book series. Bird’s story (begun in Sundancer) is sure to please young adult readers, especially those with a passion for all things equine.
Shelley Peterson lives and operates a stable in Caledon. (Key Porter Books, $12.95)
Blood Feud: Volume Two of The Drake Chronicles, by Alyxandra Harvey
The rules of etiquette and wardrobe have changed dramatically in the last two centuries. As a survivor of the French Revolution, and now a member of the Hounds (a shamanic sect of vampires), Isabeau St. Croix knows this for a fact. She also knows the struggle for power remains the same bloody ordeal. While heading an envoy to meet with the royal House of Drake, Isabeau is distracted by the charming Logan Drake. Together they must fight through violent vampire politics – and their growing attraction to one another – if they ever want to see daylight – make that moonlight – again.
Blood Feud is a page-turning follow-up to the first book in The Drake Chronicles, Hearts at Stake. Third in the series, Out for Blood, will be released early 2011. Alyxandra Harvey lives in Mono. (Walker & Company, $12.50)
Prisoner of Dieppe, by Hugh Brewster
Hugh Brewster describes his experience at the 65th anniversary commemoration of the raid in Dieppe, France, as the most moving experience he’s ever had as a Canadian. The French town has not forgotten the terrible sacrifice made by so many of our soldiers, and neither have the veterans, who came to remember their fallen comrades. The veterans’ stories appeared in his previous non-fiction book, Dieppe: Canada’s Darkest Day in World War II, and also heavily influenced this gripping account of two young men sent into a battle they could not win.
Mackie and Allie may be fictional characters, but the details of the raid, capture and attempted escape of the soldiers from Stalag VIIIB are historically accurate. Readers aged 10–14 are sure to be enthralled by this fast-paced tale of courage and betrayal.
Award-winning author Hugh Brewster’s next book in the I AM CANADA series, Deadly Voyage: H.M.S. Titanic, is due in the fall of 2011. He lives in Mulmur. (Scholastic Canada Ltd, $14.99)
Lonico, by Graham Angus
The Valley is a simple farming society based on the communal sharing of resources. It’s a hardscrabble life that favours first-born sons (second sons are sold off as hands to other farmers), yet it has kept peace and relative happiness in its citizenry for hundreds of years. Beyond the mountains, far from the Valley, lies the vast city of Lonico. Peasants live in fear of the Magi, who use cruel magic to keep their people in submission. When the two cultures clash, blood is shed, loyalties are tested, mythologies are destroyed and the heroes and villains show their true faces.
Greed, power and class structure are explored in this first, fast-paced fantasy novel by Graham Angus. He grew up in Caledon, a town with the apparently intriguing postal code of L0N 1C0. (Harper Collins, $14.95)
Thanks to My Hockey Coach and Advice for a Young Hockey Player, by The Orangeville Flyers Novice AE Team
Following the success of I Love My Hockey Mom and Thanks to My Hockey Dad, coach Jason Howell (under the direction of local teacher Jennifer Sutoski) asked his team to re-tap their endless bounty of nine-year-old wisdom and create two more books: one for the selfless volunteers who become coaches, and one for new players to the game.
A great coach doesn’t just teach kids to stickhandle and score goals; he yells at the refs when they miss a penalty and squirts water in your mouth when you come off a shift. He organizes pizza parties and lets you drink “strawberry stuff” out of the cup you won. Young players are advised to not be afraid of bigger players, and to look up at their parents in the stands (especially if they made a bad play). Most of all, Jason’s team reminds us that hockey is about having fun.
These delightful books are the perfect gift for coaches, players, parents and anyone else involved in world of hockey. (Key Porter Kids, $9.99 each)
Runley Read-Along Series, by Steve Runcimen and Bruce Ley
Steve Runcimen (creator of French read-along books for Disney) and Bruce Ley (Theatre Orangeville’s musical director) joined forces to produce this unique series aimed at helping children read and expand their vocabularies. The eight books of fairytales, original and bible stories include a CD, questions for teachers or parents to help guide understanding, search-and-find exercises and a colouring page. Illustrator Gary Wren provides the books’ bright, eye-catching scenes and various Headwaters residents put their vocal skills to work on the CDs. A group of local teachers vetted each title and highly recommends them for elementary-school children.
Orangeville’s Steve Runcimen and Mulmur’s Bruce Ley are hard at work on the next eight books in the series, due for release next year. (Runley Productions Inc., $6.99 each)
KAZAAK, by Sean Cassidy
Spike loves being a porcupine and, even more, demonstrating his skills to his friend Rupert. Hungry? Spike KAZAAKs wild grapes with his quills. Can’t get a carrot out of the ground? Spike KAZAAKs the offending root into pulp. Spike is so busy KAZAAKing, he doesn’t realize he’s lost all his quills and that danger, in the form of a hungry bear, is approaching. Luckily, clever Rupert has enough quills and brains to save them both from becoming a prickly lunch.
Award-winning Orangeville writer and illustrator Sean Cassidy delivers another superb children’s picture book with its engaging story and expressive illustrations. His previous titles include The Chicken Cat and Wake Up, Henry Rooster! (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, $18.95)
Your Best Body Now, by Tosca Reno
Tosca Reno’s newest Eat-Clean book is more than a guide to help middle-aged women lose weight; it’s a lifestyle manual to better body, beauty and mental health. Life gets better after forty, Reno says and urges women to transform their lives, no matter what their age. Along with the nutritional philosophy of eating only non-processed foods, the book sets out easy-to-follow recipes, disease prevention, exercise schedules, a section for journalling and tips for younger-looking hair and skin.
Caledon’s Tosca Reno is a regular contributor to Oxygen magazine. She recently celebrated her fiftieth birthday by posing in a bikini (and looking fabulous) for the magazine’s cover. (Harlequin, $22.95)
The Plate: 150 Years of Royal Tradition from Don Juan to Eye of the Leopard, by Louis E. Cauz
In 1860, Queen Victoria offered fifty guineas to the winner of a Toronto-based horse race held in her honour. One hundred and fifty years later, The Queen’s Plate Stakes (or simply “The Plate,” as it is better known) is still the most coveted of Canadian racing trophies. Tales of politics, intrigue, shady betting and even murder – along with reproductions of pedigrees, racing charts, archival photos and count-less other bits of memorabilia – are revealed in the extensive biography of each winning team. Fully updated from its original release in 1985, this gorgeous coffee-table book exposes a fascinating slice of Canadian history.
Caledon’s Louis Cauz is a journalist and a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. He is also the archivist and historian for Woodbine Entertainment and managing director for the Hall of Fame at Woodbine. (Ecw Press, $39.95)
freshalicious, by Stacey Fokas
When Stacey Fokas’s child was diagnosed with an anaphylactic allergy to dairy, she imagined a future of constant mealtime struggles. The prepared foods and artificially pretty produce sold in the grocery store sometimes hide dairy products, as well as an abundance of chemicals not meant for human consumption. To Stacey’s surprise, the forced restrictions opened her eyes to a better way to live and eat. Eating fresh is not only good for you, she says, it’s good for the environment.
Cooking with in-season fruits, vegetables and organic meats means sourcing out local farms. Buying local supports the local economy and, ultimately, the planet. Stacey’s 125 simple recipes (paired with mouth-watering photography) are grouped according to season and include Hockley chipotle on chive mash and a stunning Caledon cherry pie with candied maple syrup and toasted almonds. Hungry yet?
Stacey Fokas lives in Caledon. (Infokas Productions, $29.95)
Abandoned Ontario, by Bruce R. Brigham
“Houses are unique in that they hold tightly in their walls memories of the souls that were born, lived, and some-times passed over within,” says photographer Bruce Brigham. In seeking out homes left abandoned, he strives to “capture them in their state today and their somewhat ghostly existence in our so-called modern society.” Architectural flourishes, stamped-tin ceiling panels, discarded toys and furniture are presented in stark black and white, along with a short description of the different energies Brigham felt in each house. Many of the properties are found in Headwaters, including “Haunted Elba” in the township of Mono, where heavy footsteps followed by a metallic crash from the floor above seemed determined to drive him out. (Abandoned Ontario, $45)
Your Turn to Judge, by Retired Deputy Judge, H. Clark Adams Q.C.
After fifteen years as a judge in Orangeville’s small claims court, Clark Adams has heard some spectacular arguments. In Your Turn to Judge, Adams puts forward forty of his more complex cases – including opening statements and evidence given (or not given) – and invites the reader to bang the gavel and bring down a ruling.
Test your knowledge of the law while sorting through the testimony of irate brothers fighting over wandering cows. Or how about the tricky purchase of a quarter horse with a hidden case of the wobbles? The second half of the book reveals how Adams ruled and why. Don’t agree with his decision? Out of the thousands of cases he’s heard, not a single appeal has ever been successful. How’s that for hard evidence.
Clark Adams lives in Orangeville. (Pandora Press, $20)
Manitoulin and Region: Voices from the Past, by Margaret E. Derry
While researching the history of Mani-toulin Island and the North Channel, Margaret Derry found herself fascinated by the array of written materials she found from each time period. She says, “Documents are generated within a certain cultural milieu and therefore vary in flavour and bias… they are often loaded with a hidden richness of information.”
And so she began to form this “living history,” an assemblage of voices speaking directly from the past. Included are published articles detailing the fierce debate over the age of the first indigenous settlement found at Sheguiandah, a travelogue written in 1865 for The Globe (now The Globe and Mail) describing beautiful scenery despite the blackflies, interviews and archival photos illustrating images of a time not forgotten.
Caledon’s Margaret Derry is an historian and artist affiliated with the University of Guelph. Her previous books include Georgian Bay Jewel and Killarney Memoir. (Poplar Lane Press, $34.95)
Great Lakes & Rugged Ground: Imagining Ontario. illustrated by Kasia Charko
Kasia Charko’s pencil and watercolour illustrations perfectly capture the wild beauty of Ontario’s past and present in this gorgeous children’s picture book, written by Sarah N. Harvey and Leslie Buffam. Evocative haikus accompany scenes of early French explorers filling the hull of their ship with furs at a Native settlement of domed huts. Posters urging Canadians to buy Victory Bonds hang on the walls of a factory where women in kerchiefs grind metal and weld with torches. Children play hockey on a frozen pond under the watchful eyes of snow geese flying overhead. At the back of the book, detailed information of each time period expands on the images, as well as a list of the various items Kasia has cleverly hidden in each of the illustrations.
Kasia Charko’s previous book illustrations include The Summer of Marco Polo and Camels Always Do. She lives in Alton. (Orca Book Publishers, $19.95)
The Age of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate our Culture, by Terry O’Reilly
Love it or hate it, advertising is a multi-billion dollar business that’s never, ever going away. From flyers, billboards, radio and TV to the wild world of the Internet, the industry of influencing consumption morphs with every new mode of communication.
Long-time ad-man and Mulmur resident Terry O’Reilly expands on his popular CBC radio show, The Age of Persuasion, to entertain and educate his readers with anecdotes, myths, war stories and insider info about those who’ve made an art of studying human nature in the hopes of selling us a Coke. (Vintage Canada, $22)
Stars of Dufferin County, by Mary Lazier, illustrated by Mary Lazier and Ursula N. Crosbie
When asked if all the stories in Stars of Dufferin Country are true, Mary Lazier replies, “Well sure, but any story becomes fiction after you tell it a few times.” Historical fact and rural legend rub shoulders in this wonderfully peculiar picture book highlighting some of the county’s weirder happenings and colourful characters. Points of interest range from the story of Jesse James and his brother Frank hiding out on 10 Sideroad of Mulmur during the winter of 1875 to ghosts inhabiting Greystones Inn, visiting rock stars, UFO sightings, a broken mastodon tusk and the politics of wind farming.
Mulmur’s Mary Lazier and Shelburne’s Ursula Crosbie are also spreading a rumour that Santa owns a summer home in Melancthon. Do the jolly guy a favour and keep it to yourself. (Little Red Hen Press, $35)
(The following are self-published books)[divider]
A Walk in Fields of Gold: Anthology of Poems and Prose, by Headwaters Writers’ Guild
From the creative wordsmiths of the Headwaters Writers’ Guild comes this fine volume of short fiction, essays and poetry. All proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to purchase reading material for the children’s wing of Headwaters Health Care Centre. (Spiral Press, $14.95)
Death in the Forsythia: A Garden Plot Mystery, by A.W. Zanetti
Marilee Bright’s mid-career change from the demanding corporate world to owner-ship of a bustling garden centre is a dream come true… well, it was a dream come true until a dead man was found in the shrubbery section with a three-pronged gardening implement stuck in his chest. When the police investigation reaches a dead end, Marilee decides to do some snooping of her own. Who knew digging up a little dirt could be so dangerous?
A.W. Zanetti lives in Caledon. (iUni-verse, $19.95)
Chief/Constable, by Mervyn Parker
Retired police officer and security specialist Merv Parker details the history of law enforcement from medieval times to his days as a constable in his home town of Middleton, Nova Scotia. Included are biographies of Middleton’s police chiefs and a complete list of constables from 1910 to 2000.
Merv Parker lives in Shelburne. (MP Publishing, price not yet set)
A Trail That Twines: Reflections on Life and Nature, by Lisa Timpf
Lisa Timpf weaves together musings on beloved dogs, lost sheep, the sharp pain of grief and the stunning beauty of deer in the moonlight to create a thoroughly enjoyable collection of creative non-fiction and poetry.
Mansfield writer Lisa Timpf writes a monthly column for the Creemore Echo and is widely published in journals and magazines. (Page Graphics, $16)
Fruits of Passion, by Kim Teeuwissen
Marissa is devastated when her fiancé leaves her standing at the altar. Unknown to her, her heartbreak is due to a cruel bet between the man she thought she loved and his older brother. Unexpected gifts come from surviving the experience and unexpected love as well.
Kim Teeuwissen lives in Orangeville. (Publish America, $19.95)
Amber and the Fallen Bridge, by Kelli Curtis
When Amber and her friends head outside to play, Amber’s mother reminds her to, “always stay calm, think, be brave, and never talk to strangers.” Good thing Amber listened to her mother’s advice. When the old bridge falls and traps the girls on the wrong side of the river, only Amber knows how to save the day.
This children’s picture book by Orangeville’s Kelli Curtis encourages self-confidence and problem-solving skills in her young readers. (Strategic Book Publishing, $10)
The Diary of Mary Reynolds, by Laurie Morgan
Caledon East’s Laurie Morgan is sure to delight young readers aged 9–12 in this fictionalized account of her great-aunt Mary Reynolds. Told in journal form, we follow ten-year-old Mary from her home in Stratford to the struggles her family endure as homesteaders in New Liskeard. (Laurie Morgan, $9.99)
Pigmented Spectacles: Conversations with Ian Ayrton Earle Kirby, by David Chesterton
Caledon’s David Chesterton tells the life story of Dr. Earle Kirby (ovc certified veterinarian, inventor, archeologist and museum curator) who challenged European theories of human migration and was heralded as a national treasure on his native island, St. Vincent of the Grenadines in the West Indies. (David Chesterton, $10)
Tracey Fockler works at BookLore, an independent bookstore in Orangeville, where she also facilitates a book club.