Annaka by Andre Fenton

Andre Fenton’s second novel Annaka is a whirlwind. The narrative follows 16-year-old Annaka Brooks as she returns home to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia for her Grampy’s funeral. Though much of her adolescence has been tarnished by feelings of loneliness and difference, her homecoming provides opportunities to rebuild connections with family and friends and to figure out key secrets from her past. Clay, her childhood imaginary friend, poses a particularly interesting reunion.…

Off My Feet by Rachel Tremblay

In her fantastical Young Adult (YA) fantasy novel Off My Feet, Rachel Tremblay slays at delivering a wild ride of an adventure while also delivering many important and under-communicated messages to her younger audience.

Tremblay opens her novel with one of the best introductions to a character I have ever encountered in any writing, perfectly encapsulating the personality of Edie Stacks, the female protagonist we didn’t know we needed, in just a few lines:

“We are Stardust.

A Newfoundland Maple by Samantha Baker, Illustrated by Dawn Baker (News Release)

Samantha Baker’s first book, A Newfoundland Maple, is here.  While on a fishing trip with his grandfather in western Newfoundland, Daniel discovers a maple tree that has stood there for decades. What he doesn’t realize is just how important it is to the local wildlife. Squirrels, moose, beavers, birds, and more rely on the tree for food and shelter. Throughout the pages of this delightful book, find out which creatures visit across the four seasons and learn how just one tree can make a difference.…

Summer Feet by Sheree Fitch, Pictures by Carolyn Fisher

Wherever you are this summer of 2020, with COVID swirling around and many needing comfort, what better than to pick up a book that reminds you of summers past? Sheree Fitch’s delightfully playful language would be a treat to read to young ones – after all, Summer Feet is a children’s book. Not being either a child or having a willing one nearby, I read it aloud to myself several times, revisiting the exuberance of summers past.…

Messenger 93 by Barbara Radecki

Barbara Radecki’s sophomore novel, Messenger 93, opens with a flutter of information. A mind-bending conversation with a crow kicks off the absorbing thriller, and cryptic messages, hidden clues, and uncertain instructions become the norm in M, the narrator’s, life. M feels compelled to investigate the disappearance of a girl named Krista, and her movements over the seven days that structure each chapter offer insight into her life and closest relationships.…

The Rise and Fall of Derek Cowell by Valerie Sherrard

, the high-school years. Especially the Junior grades when you are still finding your way around a new academic setting, while at the same time discovering your own way in life. When the opposite sex gets thrown into the mix, and it can be a very confusing time for a young thirteen-year-old lad like Derek Cowell. Valerie Sherrard’s latest Young Adult (YA) title takes a humorous look at an otherwise average self-described “see-through” teen as he becomes quite popular after unintentionally photo-bombing a group selfie of his sister and her friends.…

The Barbara Radecki Interview

“In seven days, she will fall,” say the crows. “As she falls, so do we all.” Who falls? wonders M. The ominous, supernatural message starts M on a quest that could save more than one life. But what if the person in danger happens to be her nemesis? Along the way, M meets up with Gray, a Cree boy with his own hopes of saving a runaway Indigenous girl.…

No Girls Allowed by Natalie Corbett Sampson

No Girls Allowed, by Natalie Corbett Sampson, follows ten-year-old Tina Marie Forbes and her family as they fight for her right to play hockey. The Forbes family moves from Toronto to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and are excited to get settled in the town. Early on, Tina reflects, “all you need to do to make friends is play sports. Join a team and there’s a bunch of them ready to meet .…

Santiago’s Purple Skies at Morning’s Light by Bernadette Gabay Dyer (Guest Review by Ursula Pflug)

-year-old Kathleen Dunkley lives in a small Ontario town several hours north of Kingston. After her parents die in an automobile accident, a neighbour sends her to Toronto with the address of an old friend. It turns out the old friend has passed on, and the current owner of the house, a gentlemanly Jamaican immigrant by the name of Walker T. …

On the Edge by Lesley Strutt

Ontario author Lesley Strutt’s novel On the Edge is part of Inanna Publication’s Young Feminist Series, and is an adventurous read for all ages, especially for those who like sailing stories. Fourteen-year-old Emma (short for Emerald) is living an overly-restrictive life on her Aunt and Uncle’s farm near Kingston, Ontario. For mysterious reasons. her mother handed over care of her to them when Emma was only a little girl.…

Two Novels of Le Grand Dérangement

The Great Deportation or Le Grand Dérangement, of the Acadian peoples, began in 1755 in the area now called the Bay of Fundy. Homes and farms were burned, and many of the 14,000 inhabitants of Acadia were herded aboard British ships and sent off to the Thirteen Colonies. The following two novels, both suitable for mature young readers on up, focus on this time of upheaval and the separation of families.…

Dangerous Loyalties Books One & Two by Phyllis A. Still

Note: I originally wrote the following reviews for a now-defunct book review site in the U.S. As there is an impending Book Three in the works, I thought it best to combine the two reviews and publish them here at The Miramichi Reader.

Defiance on Indian Creek is a young reader type of historical novel set in the late 18th century in the 13 colonies of New England, specifically West Virginia where Michael Shirley resides with his family in a two-story log home.…

Jacques’ Escape by Anne C. Kelly

thing about Young Adult and Middle-Grade books is that they are pretty much guaranteed to be both entertaining and informative. Such is the case with Anne C. Kelly’s Jacques’ Escape (2019, Trap Door Books), a story about Jacques Terriot and his Acadian family who find themselves in the middle of a controversy as to what the English are to do with them, now that Acadia is in British hands.…

Books for Children from Newfoundland & Labrador 2019 (Part Two): Running the Goat Books and Broadsides

Running the Goat Books & Broadsides is a micro-press specializing in letterpress-printed and fine trade books, chapbooks and broadsides by some of Newfoundland and Labrador’s finest writers, and I’ve put off writing about them long enough. For the past few months, the kind folks at Running the Goat have been sending me the most astounding books for children and young people.…