For a class assignment I was asked to create podcasts with booktalks for two children's books. The books I chose were Melanie Bluelake's Dream by Betty Dorian (author from Saskatchewan, Canada) and A Coyote Solstice Tale by Thomas King (Canadian author).
Melanie Bluelake's Dream
Dorion, Betty. (1995). Melanie Bluelake's Dream. Regina, Saskatchewan: Coteau Books.
Novel, Ages 9 - 12
Awards, Honours, Prizes:
Saskatchewan, Canada Book Awards, 1995 Nominee Children's Literature Canada
Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award, 1998 ; Nominee; Manitoba, Canada
Silver Birch Award, 1997 ; Nominee; Fiction; Ontario, Canada
Melanie is a ten year old Aboriginal girl who moves from a reserve in northern Saskatchewan into the city of Prince Albert. She is unhappy that her mom forced her to leave her Kokum (grandmother) behind on the reserve. Melanie's mom is determined to finish her grade 12 and make a better life for herself and her daughter. The story is told from Melanie's point of view as she learns to adjust from the freedom of life on the reserve where she knew everyone to life in the city. The book presents a matter-of-fact picture of those living in poverty. In the midst of the hardship of life, there are glimpses of joy--when Melanie dresses up for Halloween, when Melanie makes new friends, and when Melanie makes peace with her mom.
The author of this book, Betty Dorion, has taught on reserves and in the city of Prince Albert. I appreciate the realism and understanding of the socio-economic setting that she brought to this story.
Other books by Betty Dorion:
Bay Girl (1998, Coteau Books)
Strike (2000, Coteau Books)
Whose Side Are You On? (2001, Coteau Books)
A Coyote Solstice Tale
King, Thomas. (2009). A Coyote Solstice Tale. (Illustrated by Gary Clement). Toronto: Groundwood Books.
Picture Book, ages 4 - 9
This is a Christmas tale with a twist. Coyote lives in a little house in the woods. He is preparing to welcome his animal friends for supper when a little girl dressed as a reindeer shows up. The animal friends retrace her footprints in the snow to discover that she escaped from the Christmas mayhem at the mall. Coyote jumps shopping cart first into the fun and loads up with presents for all--only to discover that the cashier wants him to pay for the gifts. Coyote discovers that goodwill and peace are free and he doesn't need or want those presents.
The story is told in rhyme and the illustrations are almost like cartoons. This book is one that children will enjoy reading and rereading to catch the details in the story and the pictures. This is an unusual Christmas book as it pokes gentle fun at materialism and extols the joys of simple things--friends, goodwill, and peace.
Thomas King is an author and a professor at Guelph University in Ontario. In the past he created a hilarious show for CBC Radio entitled "The Dead Dog Cafe Comedy Hour".
Other Books for Children by Thomas King:
Coyote Sings to the Moon (2001, WestWind Press)
Coyote's New Suit (2004, Key Porter Books)
A Coyote Columbus Story (2007, Groundwood Books
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