A few books I’ve read

Looking for a few good books?  I’ve been busy reading and prepping for the next school year.  I’m planning a Manitoba unit tying in history, geology, geography, literature, and a few other ologies.

I’ve linked through to the Goodreads reviews they’re copied from.

The Lady at Batoche

It’s just before the Battle of Batoche where the Metis lose the battle to determine their futures as equals in Confederation.  The lives of three young people are caught up in the swirl of events: Tom, a young bugler with General Middleton’s forces who is trying to cope with the death of his friend at the hands of the Metis; Luc and Marie, proud and determined to make their own choices in life, torn between protecting home and nation.

I had rated this as 4 out of  stars, but it lost a star at the end. There was something loose about it as it wraps up. For instance, I’m totally at a loss as to why one of the main characters makes a particular choice.

That said, it’s a good book for those who are looking for a way to have a connection with Canadian history, ie, homeschoolers. Looking for a book that helps you study western/Metis/Confederation history? This is a good choice. I’d peg it as Gr 5 and up. (There is a book before this in the series that I haven’t read.)

I particularly liked the twisted process of naming a chapter ‘Victory’. Wait, we have characters on both sides of the conflict. If someone wins, someone loses…Oh, wait, that’s war for you.

Lesia’s Dream

A life of pride.  A life with land.  A life where no one dies of hunger or ravaged by a sickness made strong by malnutrition and overwork.  That is Lesia and Ivan’s dream, and they’ve convinced their parents to move to Canada to pursue it.  But they’re Ukrainian, and Canada isn’t convinced it likes immigrants who are peasants in places far from England.

This book about an immigrant’s pioneer story is a stimulating addition to the Little House genre. It adds a layer of gritty reality to the rose-coloured glasses too often worn by authors looking at the era when we broke the prairie sod.

Lesia is refreshingly active in this book. Not someone taken on the journey by her family, not taken along as unwilling or passive baggage, she’s driving them forward, hustling for food, shoveling the dirt, harvesting the plants. She and her brother Ivan have the idea to leave the Ukraine that changes her family’s lives, and the sense of responsibility that she labours under is well-written and important.  They took a risk, and it is clear that there are real consequences.  Lesia’s burden to survive and thrive is palpable.

I think that mixing the pioneer story with the story of the internment camps of WWI adds real interest. The prejudice in this story against the Ukrainians is staggering, and yet handled deftly. I never once felt crushed by it.

I’d highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good novel to complement a study of North American history.


2 thoughts on “A few books I’ve read

  1. Annie says:

    Wow- I look forward to Lesia’s Dream! Moon over Manifest (Clare Vanderpool) is a good one about immigration and home and war and family. Set in 1936 and 1918.

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