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The Runaway ~ NEW ~

About the Book | Synopsis | Questions & Activities

Leroy “Doodlebug” Barnstable likes to call himself the quickest draw in the west–with a crayon. It’s 1923 and Doodle is on the run from a couple of abusive cousins. He stumbles into a travelling Chautauqua show where it’s easy to get lost in a crowd–but also easy to lose your heart. This funny and endearing novel by Governor General’s Award-winning novelist Glen Huser will make an absorbing read for young teens, boys and girls alike.

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Grace Lake

About the Book | Synopsis | Questions & Activities

A book of remarkable sensitivity…The central figure, John Hislop, is an aging music teacher who returns to summer camp as a counselor. There he reflects on a past of suppressed desire, barely acknowledged homosexuality, and guilt. He focuses on a handful of important times and people in his life, only slowly beginning to come to terms with their meaning and importance for him. Huser does an excellent job with the tricky business of managing Hislop’s present life, the jumbled fragments of his past, and troubled dreams that mix up parts of both. This is how stream of consciousness should be – but seldom is – managed.

…Huser is also a splendid prose stylist. He pays attention, as few writers do, to the rhythms of his words. I’m afraid if I call the book poetic, I’ll put off some of the potential readers. What I mean is this: Huser has an ear for the real rhythms of speech, and for the natural, but different, rhythms of written prose. Moreover, the density of the imagery, the repetition (of image and event and character) and relative brevity (compared to the depth and breadth of content) all suggest a long poem as much as a novel.

~ Gary Draper, Books in Canada

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Touch of the Clown

About the Book | Synopsis | Questions & Activities

Fascinating, thought-provoking, are just two of the words that pass through your mind as you read this wonderful novel. A 14-year-old girl and her younger sister are truly touched by an angel when the littlest one, Livvy, runs out into the street and is hit by a man on a bicycle…The girls’ relationship with Cosmo, although totally unexpected and unconventional, is the single most important event in their young lives. We eventually realize that Cosmo has been living with AIDS for many years, but he can still form new attachments and play a near-saviour role in the lives of these young girls…Not only does Barbara discover talents and strengths she didn’t know she had, but for the short time Cosmo is well enough, she has someone to turn to when her alcoholic father turns violent.

~ Karen Shewbridge, The Telegraph


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Stitches

About the Book | Synopsis | Questions & Activities

This text underneath the book: Here is a classic scapegoats-vs.-bullies school story with some low-key but unusual distinctions. The setting is rural Alberta, and the good kids are Chantelle, who has a limp and a scarred face, and Travis, a boy completely unselfconscious about his love for puppets and sewing…Chantelle and Travis joined forces back in the fifth grade, when she rescued him from boys who called him “girlie”; junior high brings new challenges as the teasing gets uglier and, eventually, violent. But while this gathering darkness provides the book with tension and a conscience, the real story is the friendship between the two outsiders and their marshaling of forces within themselves, each other, and their families to keep going…Two nice teachers are on call as well, to provide hope and meaningful work to the friends, but their ability to help is realistically limited. In the end, Travis is on his own, but it doesn’t seem like such a bad place to be.

~ R. S., Horn Book (starred review)


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Skinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen

About the Book | Synopsis | Questions & Activities

Glen Huser fashions a telling friendship between two misfits – a young girl who moves from foster home to foster home and an old woman struggling to maintain her independence despite her grasping nephew. Neither Tamara nor Jean fit neatly into the systems that hold them, nor, at first, do they seem likely allies. But when Jean, almost 90 years old, realizes that 15-year-old Tamara (who is desperate to get to Vancouver for a modeling course) is her best chance for a trip to Seattle to see Wagner’s entire Ring cycle performed, anand alliance forms…The novel alternates between Tamara’s voice and Jean’s – both are strongly evoked and engaging. One can’t help loving Jean’s toughness and her wit; Tamara’s intelligence is at once naïve and penetrating. Their perspectives on the characters around them – nursing-home workers, family members, school officials, hoteliers – are pointedly perceptive and, not surprisingly, reveal their own humanity. Their opinions about each other, and their own cultural touchstones, are quite wonderful…

~ Marnie Parsons, Quill & Quire


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Jeremy’s Christmas Wish

About the Book | Synopsis | Questions & Activities

Jeremy hurried into a sweater and grabbed his jacket and a toque and some mitts from his closet. Outside, it was cold and crisp and clear, a windless Christmas Eve. The man led him through the garden to the hedge at the far end. Just behind it was his sleigh with its patient team snorting puffs of steamy breath through their nostrils, eyeing him with curious gentle eyes. Spying their master, they tipped their great antlers almost as if they were saluting him

“Where are you taking me?” Jeremy shouted against the rush of air once they were aloft, but his voice came out small and piping.

Jeremy is the richest kid in the country but even with all his toys and games, he’s so bored even the prospect of Christmas coming doesn’t excite him. He writes a letter to Santa which has some unexpected results. A mysterious bearded stranger arrives and takes him on a journey where he makes new friends and learns a lesson about love and friendship that changes his attitude forever.)