BOOKMARKS: Local author helps young minds explore a forgotten moment in history

This year’s titles for young people include a profile on Draisaitl, Natasha Deen’s bball take, family mysteries, self-love, a picto fairytale and Cree dinosaurs

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Kate Boorman wanted to challenge herself with her newest middle-grade adventure, setting her book in a period that’s both incredibly fascinating and maybe forgotten by most readers.

The Heathens and the Dragon, published Sept. 3 by Thistledown Press, unfolds in 13th-century France, a time of political upheaval and religious persecution where a group of Christians known as Cathars were being called heretics by the mainstream church. 

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“I think it’s difficult to bring historical settings to life for all audiences, not just young audiences,” says Boorman, the current writer-in-residence for Edmonton Public Libraries. “I wanted to craft a fun story, one that would resonate with kids in a lesser-known moment.”

Elodie and her younger brother Bertran are forced to flee their home after Catholic crusaders come to arrest their Cathar master. They vanish into the woods and go in search of their master, a journey full of new adventures where they meet fascinating people while confronting secrets along the way.

“Courts in this area were quite free-thinking. It wouldn’t be unusual to have Eastern philosophers in your court talking about things. You can see echoes of that in the religion that becomes the Cathar religion,” Boorman explains.

Cathars considered themselves Christians, but the church didn’t accept their teachings or the spread of their religion. The Cathars would be persecuted, and the conflict would eventually lead to the Albigensian Crusade and the burning of Cathar heretics.

But it was more than conflict and persecution Boorman had to research, delving into daily life for people in that area during 13th century. She was careful to let it enrich the story, focusing on things like how characters would solve problems or deal with the world around them.

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“I remember waking up in the middle of the night. Initially, I had the children escape through a cornfield — but wait, there’s no corn file in 13th-century France,” says Boorman.

Boorman is an award-winning author from Edmonton whose last book, Into the Sublime, was a suspense novel released in 2022. Her next book is an adult suspense novel set in a small town on the prairies.

Find more information about the author at kateaboorman.com.

Oilers fav profiled by Nicholson

Author Lorna Schultz Nicholson has turned her attention to an Oilers favourite for her book series, Amazing Hockey Stories.

The latest in her collection of profiles on some of the on-ice game’s most incredible players is Leon Draisaitl. The popular Oilers forward was born in Cologne, Germany and rocketed to the top of the National Hockey League, earning both the Hart Torpy and the Ted Lindsay Award, given to the NHL’s most outstanding player. The book features 16 pages of full-colour hockey action in an easy-to-read biography that teaches fans about his family’s connection to the game.

Leon Draisaitl
Amazing Hockey Stories: Leon Draisaitl by Edmonton author Lorna Schultz Nicholson. Supplied

Amazing Hockey Stories: Leon Draisatl was published by Scholastic Canada and released Oct. 3. Nicholson has been profiling various hockey legends for the publisher, with her last book featuring goaltender Carey Price. She often focuses on sports in her writing.

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To find out more about the author, go to lornaschultznicholson.com.  

Dreaming of basketball

Local children’s author Natasha Deen has released a new book in her Jake Maddox series.

Roster Rebound, which came out July 31 from Stone Arch Books, is about the basketball dreams of a young girl named Nina. After moving to a small town, Nina finds out the school doesn’t have enough players to field a full team. To play, she’ll have to try out for the boy’s team, but will she be able to prove herself as a power forward?

Roster Rebound book
Roster Rebound is the latest release from Edmonton children’s author Natasha Deen. Supplied

Deen writes young adult and children’s books, and received a Queen Elizabeth Platinum Jubilee Medal.

Go to natashadeen.com for more information.

Struggling with family secrets

A new children’s book about a young woman grappling with her family’s secret took almost two decades from inception to release.

Life Expectancy is the newest book from Alison Hughes, released Sept. 23 from DCB. While working on a class project about her grandmother’s famous novel, Sophie uncovers a profound and devastating secret. It’s a secret her parents have kept from her since birth but could change her future.

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Life Expectancy book
The young adult book Life Expectancy by Edmonton author Alison Hughes. Supplied

Hughes has written and published 20 books for kids and young adults, but the idea for this one had been percolating in the back of her mind for almost 15 years. Her 2017 title, Hit the Ground Running, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People’s Literature.

Find the book and more about the author at alisonhughesbooks.com.

Self-love gets second life

A St. Albert author is encouraging kids to love themselves with the second edition of her book.

The Self-Love Book, which had a second edition released Sept. 13 from Wishing Star Publishing, inspires kids to appreciate themselves for who they are and celebrate their uniqueness and differences. The book is filled with mindful affirmations, along with illustrations to celebrate diversity and inclusion.

The Self-love book
The second edition of The Self-Love Book by Edmonton children’s author Alexandra Hoffman. Supplied

The book was written by Alexandra Hoffman, who is both the author of the book and the founder of Wishing Star Publishing. Find more information at wishingstarpublishing.com.

Picturing a classic fairy tale

Local author Bee Waeland is again putting her own twist on a classic fairy tale.

Gretel and Hansel, released in May by Orca Book Publishers, is the latest book from Waeland, following a friendly woman who lovingly decorates her candy home while two inconsiderate, greedy children take advantage of her kindness. The story is told entirely without words.

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Waelands’s previous book, The Three Bears and Goldilocks, won a 2022 Alcuin Society Design Award for First in Children’s Books.

For more information about the author, visit beewaeland.com.  

Bringing dinosaurs to life

A terrifying creature from Cree mythology is at centre stage in the newest release from a local author.

The Wihtikow Rex by Stuart Adams, released Nov. 3 by Rock’s Mills Press, focuses on a mysterious creature accidentally brought to life by Lukas and his cousin KC. The pair meet a paleontologist at Drumheller’s Royal Tyrrell Museum but stray into an area they were told to avoid and run into trouble.

Adams is a former journalist who now focuses on creative writing. This is his second in the Lukas series of books — Lukas and the Ghost Train was released last year.

Find more information about the author at stuartadams.ca.

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