The Fantastic Adventures of Oliver Phenomena – Oliver and the Guardian Angel By Andrew Klein. Book Review.

 Click on the cover to buy this book.

The book grabs your interest right away with the phrase “Oliver is somewhat unusual. He has a very special ability to attract rare and unusual events.” I was intrigued to see what these events would be. But then the page says, “He understands that his mommy is gone. He has always felt her nearby. He has a guardian angel.” This threw me off. I wasn’t sure of the connection between the ability to attract rare and unusual events and having his mother as a guardian angel.

As Oliver grew older, he learned to walk quickly without falling because of his guardian angel assisting him. He learned to ride a bike with her help too. She pulled them out of the way of oncoming traffic because he wasn’t watching where he was going. She caught him, and the rice when he fell off a box. She helped him impress his aunt with karate moves he didn’t know. She cooled down his bathtub water and shut the window. He slid down the banister without falling as she held him. I was somewhat disappointed that the “fantastic adventures of Oliver Phenomena” were ordinary family occurrences. Perhaps just “Oliver and the Guardian Angel” would’ve been a more suitable title.

The book ends, “Later, Mr. P. stood at Oliver’s door, and whispered, ‘Good night to you, son, and well… whoever keeps you safe.’ Oliver slept well that night knowing he had his guardian angel.”

The book is fairly easy to read with just enough vocabulary on each page. Oliver is a busy character. His situations are often humorous. I was hoping he would grow to become more independent as the story progressed, but there was no change in his development. This isn’t really a “plot” kind of story, more of a presentation of a religious concept. There really is no beginning, middle, or end and no real conflict because we know the angel will protect him. I would have enjoyed it more if Oliver had reached a state of independence and maturity that his mother could watch with confidence and relief. Her role then would have been to keep him safe up to that point.

Using full-page, full-color pictures, the illustrator, Joshua Aquino does a terrific job of conveying the nonstop activity of a little boy. Thankfully, he doesn’t draw the guardian angel mother with wings. She is perfect the way she is. She exudes motherly love in a gentle and charming way.

I might suggest that the illustrator add children of diversity to future books. One of Oliver’s friends could have been from an underrepresented group.

One question I ask myself when ever I review a children’s book is – So what does a child gain from reading this? If you have bought this book published by a Christian publisher, you are probably very comfortable with the concept of guardian angels. It may also be reassuring for your child to believe that a deceased parent is still loving and caring for him. However, a note of caution. I have known of children who put themselves at high risk because they have believed that their guardian angel will save them from any harm. One child even ran out into traffic. (It really jarred me when the child in this book did exactly that.) Please, if you read this book with your child, address this. It’s a complicated topic. On the one hand, you do not him or her want to think they can do any dangerous thing at all and their guardian angel will prevent them from injury or death. On the other hand, if you want your child to believe in guardian angels, then you’ll have to explain why his or hers is not protecting as well as Oliver’s. Whatever your belief system, just be prepared for a discussion before and after reading this book.

Because of the nature of this book, I am not rating the subject matter or the story line but instead I’m assessing the packaging of this concept.I did not know the subtitle of this book or I would not have accepted it for review. I do not want to review religious books.

I was given a free copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Fish Who Could Fly: A Tail of Discovery by Leonard W. Lambert. Illustrated by Kevin Cook. Book Review.


Click here to buy The Fish Who Could Fly: A Tale of Discovery

This children’s picture book features a little fish who wants to know how to fly. The octopus and the old grumpy grouper both make fun of his dreams but his mother says, “Fish can do anything, you’d be surprised. If you put your mind to it, and believe that it’s true, I think you can fly over the big ocean blue.” So even though the other fish laugh at him, he quickly and without any difficulty, learns to fly even as high as the clouds. In the end he teaches all the other fish to fly as well.

After this story is finished, the book features some facts about flying fish, octopus, grouper fish and the blue whale. There is also a link to a fun and educational website.

I liked  The Fish Who Could Fly. It was readable and sweet. I felt the fish learned to fly too easily. He tried and he immediately succeeded phenomenally. I think the message would have been strengthened if the fish had to work harder for his success. But, the book succeeds in spite of this.

If you have been reading my blog, you know my feelings on rhyming books. They have to be flawless or they pull you out of the story. When I first read it, I thought the rhyming in this book was inconsistent. But when I read it aloud, I found the rhythm.

The illustrations were wonderful, bright, clear, cute and cheerful. Children will love this book especially those with an interest in ocean creatures or flight.

The author, Leonard W. Lambert, was interviewed on this blog October 5, 2016.


A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Why Would Animals Eat That? Recycled Sundays.




“All these years I have been a slave to humans, hiding my true nature and pretending to be dumb and witless,” said the Horse (The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis).

As children, we often entertain the idea that the “dumb” animals actually talk with each other when humans are not in the vicinity. At least half the books written for children have beasts with consciousness. This would be a genuine tragedy, if it were true.

The way I figure it, a major perk of being a simple beast of burden or fowl of the field, is lack of consciousness. The animal has no concept of time. It never reads its predicted life expectancy in the daily paper. It doesn’t buy Oil of Olay in an attempt to fool the other fowl that it’s still a young ducky. It never considers nip and tuck surgery in an effort to disguise the wrinkles on its trunk. Imagine existing without the need to check for lumps, regulate cholesterol, force yourself to exercise, or diet. An animal eats what it needs to survive, without concern for vitamin C, revised Canada Food Guides, or additives.

It doesn’t agonize over selecting the right college or achieving a dependable income. Religion or politics would never be discussed. It never reads a safety bulletin, obeys any law but those of nature, or selects a designated hopper, flyer, or burrower. Except when driven to mate, it doesn’t fret about attracting others. There are no singles bars, computer dating, blind dates, match-makers, or single-parent clubs in the animal kingdom. Each creature lives in the moment. It enjoys every non-threatening minute in the sun, without concern for the daily UV rating. Yes, its life is short and savage, but without guilt, shame, worry, or unachieved ambition. Every day that it isn’t eaten by another animal is a good day.

Today is just a day to be lived, while not being overly concerned about the past and probably not much aware of the future. Except when fleeing for his life, the deer or squirrel doesn’t worry about death. It never has to write a will, deciding who to leave the rights to the best grazing grounds or to whom he should bequeath his winter nuts.

It isn’t all easy pickings when it comes to food though. Nature pulls a few bizarre tricks, especially with regard to animals’ eating habits. The rabbit, it seems, is a prime example of a creature hard done by. The rabbit has been provided with big eyes to see danger, bigger ears to hear danger, and even bigger legs to run from danger. Why? Because almost every other animal endangers it. It is eaten by owls, ferrets, minks, snakes, badgers, humans, foxes, wolves, coyotes, falcons, eagles, humans, and more. The rabbit is also attacked by parasites, disease, and starvation. Most die in the first year of their lives. A few make it into their second. An animal who has practically no protection when danger gets past its eyes, ears and legs can’t hope for much. Its only defence against humans is its innocent appearance, which, sad to say, makes it ideal for mittens and Sunday dinner. Big, bashful eyes don’t impact much on a species that created factory farms.

But, if that isn’t enough, Mother Nature has thrown the little rabbit a special trait. In order to gain enough vitamins and minerals from the tough grass, plants, and barks that it consumes, the rabbit must eat it twice. Bluntly, it has to chow down on its own droppings. It chews the grass in the field, defecates at home, and snacks on the pellets, before giving them a final resting place outside the burrow. In the rabbit’s case, it seems to be especially kind that the beast is dumb and witless. If it had to sit through a grade six lesson on the digestive tract before lunch, it would probably loose its taste for a morning snack.

Speaking of snacks, provincial parks place warning signs and provide pamphlets about the dangers of interacting with bears. It amazes me that people still need to be warned about an omnivore with claws as long as my fingers, weighing about 200 kilograms, that runs twice the speed of the fastest human. What else do they need to earn respect? Bears do not behave predictably, which makes studying the pamphlet a little superfluous. Some people risk life and limb by leaving trash around. After a snack of taco crumbs and chocolate bar wrappers, a bear is ready for raw tourist, an impertinent little dish with a savoury aftertaste.

Current advice says to wear bells as you walk through the bush to warn bears you are coming. Isn’t that a little like ringing the dinner bell? Forget spotting a deer or rabbit as you tinkle-tinkle along the path.  Apparently, bears will usually avoid you. Should you encounter one, the idea is to make yourself as large and noisy as possible in order to convince the animal that YOU are the bigger threat. I’m not sure I have the confidence to intimidate a bear. I’m not that good an actress.

I appreciate the Little Brown Bat who eats 4000 – 8000 mosquitoes in a night. If those blood-suckers were allowed to live, at least a tenth would have bitten me. While those around me are mosquito free, I attract them like shoppers at a Black Friday sale. So, I try to appreciate bats. Park literature tells me bats are harmless creatures “for the most part”. What are they for the other part? Whatever it is, it’s worth it for the slaughter they perform on biting pests.

The diner that surprises me most is the porcupine. No, they don’t throw quills and you have to be pretty dense to walk up to a living bundle of barbed thorns. While a beaver can quickly reduce an aspen grove to a log pile, a porcupine hits us where it truly hurts. A tenting camper can get by without deciduous trees, handle a skunk stink, smack six million mosquitoes a day, and learn to eat in their car, but don’t take away their most important link with civilization, the outhouse.

A jogger informed me she was startled at 5:00 a.m. by a strange growl (anyone who runs in circles when the mosquitoes are still out and the sun is not, is more than startled). It sounded like an excited dog with a chew bone. A porcupine was devouring the floor of an outhouse. If the jogger had stayed in bed until the crows and seagulls tormented her out of the tent like a normal camper, she would not have been subjected to such horror. At the time, I didn’t quite believe her. I thought she’d inhaled too much propane. However, this was not a tall tale. Porcupine vandalism is increasing. Canada’s second largest rodent has convinced me that having a tent potty for night time urgencies is a must. I have no desire to confront a plywood frenzied porcupine in the dark. I couldn’t sneak past an 18 kilogram rodent covered in long spikes with a two by four between his huge front teeth and maintain bladder control.

Porcupines ravish a lot of wood. Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Porcupine dine together.

“Where do you want to go for lunch?”

“Well, darling,  how about that new outhouse by the beach.”

“Marvellous idea. We haven’t gone to a new place in simply ages.”

A little off this wall. A bit from the door. A few chunks off the frame. Finally, she squats back on her haunches and announces, “I really couldn’t eat another sliver.”

“Oh, but my dear,” protests her mate, “you really MUST try this sink support. It has a new wood stain that’s absolutely out of this world.”

Some of the gnaw marks were high up the wall, over my head, in fact. Do they give each other leg-ups, or porky-backs? One must have stood on the sink counter, leaned out and around the corner twisting its body at a ninety degree angle while chewing. Otherwise there’s a six foot porky on the loose. Perhaps there’s a Kobe Bryant porcupine who does jump bites. Fortunately, the seats were porcelain. Splinters could have been a serious issue. The floor was concrete, otherwise I would have been in DEEP trouble.

I’ve eaten some pretty strange things in my life, but I’ve never had to stoop to eating an outhouse. Still, it might almost be worth it, to be a dumb, witless animal living in the moment, not understanding the phrase “Over the hill” except in the sense of a new field, or outhouse, for scavenging.

July 1990.

**NOTE: I wrote this 16 years ago. Recent studies show that animals are far more aware than we ever realized. Dogs can understand human speech far more than we think. Chickens can recognize up to 100 human faces and we use the term “mother hen” for a reason as they dote on their chicks. Pigs have the intelligence and social skills of a three-year-old child. Animals love, mourn, remember, have likes and dislikes, problem solve, learn, make and use tools and weapons, spoil their children, become depressed, experience fear and panic, invent, tease, count, identify shapes and colors, plan, contemplate, and more.

Weaving decades of field observations with exciting new discoveries about the brain, Carl Safina’s landmark book offers an intimate view of animal behavior to challenge the fixed boundary between humans and nonhuman animals. In Beyond Words, readers travel to Amboseli National Park in the threatened landscape of Kenya and witness struggling elephant families work out how to survive poaching and drought, then to Yellowstone National Park to observe wolves sort out the aftermath of one pack’s personal tragedy, and finally plunge into the astonishingly peaceful society of killer whales living in the crystalline waters of the Pacific Northwest.

Beyond Words brings forth powerful and illuminating insight into the unique personalities of animals through extraordinary stories of animal joy, grief, jealousy, anger, and love. The similarity between human and nonhuman consciousness, self-awareness, and empathy calls us to re-evaluate how we interact with animals. Wise, passionate, and eye-opening at every turn, Beyond Words is ultimately a graceful examination of humanity’s place in the world.


Click on the book covers for more information.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Got a Reluctant Reader? – Try Ninja Seals Book 2: The Metal Menace by Joe Yang


Joe Yang is a children’s book author, web cartoonist, and a huge fan of seals. And because he also loves storytelling, Joe’s also passionate about combining off-beat humor with those curious creatures. His goal is to encourage children, particularly young boys, to develop an interest in reading.

Ninja Seals Book 2: The Metal Menace, is his second book. 

Joe is a full-time Argentine Tango instructor, and teaches at tango festivals throughout the US. In a partnership with occupational therapy researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Joe also teaches tango to patients in treatment for Parkinson’s Disease.


Click on the cover to buy the book from Amazon.

Title: Ninja Seals Book 2: The Metal Menace



Alx (pronounced “Alex) and his cousin Scooter are two ordinary seals by day, and ninja seals by night! One evening, while busy in a workshop, someone – or something – starts banging on the front door!

Before they know it, Alx and Scooter are caught up in a chaotic nightmare where they are once again forced to take action as ninja seals. This time, they’re up against a large, metal monstrosity! What is its purpose? What does it want? And how will the ninja seals be able to stop it?



Age level: 5-9

Other purchase links:


Barnes & Noble

Social media links:





Note: This promotion was written by the author.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


Terrifying Vengeance: The Dream Traveler by Kathrine LaFleur. Book Review.

Click here to buy The Dream Traveler: The Cardonian Chronicles Book 1

This young adult novel is Book One of The Cardonian Chronicles. LaFleur starts out the series with a bang. She sets up a terrifying situation wherein a husband and father, Barrett, must choose between trying to save his wife and endangering his teenage daughters, Raven and Violet, or bringing his children to safety and hoping for the best for his wife. Their world is being overrun by vengeful and horrifying spirits in a kind of social karma.

One thing threw me off in this book. Barrett could understand what animals were saying. He sent the sows piglets off to be slaughtered on a regular basis and “mourned with her.” If someone in power sent my children off on a regular basis to be murdered, we would not mourn together. Obviously, the pigs were completely sentient. Did the sow tell her piglets what was going to happen to them? I think she would behave very differently to Barrett after the first slaughter and so would all the other animals.

As different villages connect together behind a safe barrier, previous social classes are forgotten. People rise and fall in this new community based on ability and contribution. However, one man, gifted with the talent of persuasion, rises quickly in power and prestige. Raven and her new friends suspect something dangerous and secretive is happening.

The novel develops into one of intrigue and almost political suspense with a backdrop of never ending menace of the angry spirits.

It was a little difficult to differentiate between so many new characters but gradually I was able to sort them out. Many of them will continue into the next book. Raven, at times and unlikable character, stands out as the major catalyst for resistance. Moonlight is the second most formidable character, an adult with the skills of an assassin. There are important males as well but it is the women who lead the charge.

There is betrayal, courage, friendship and love, deviousness and honesty. The story builds in complexity and suspense but is not resolved. This is a cliffhanger series. In all likelihood, if you read the first one, you will want to read the next, Moonlight Hunting: The Cardonian Chronicles Book Two.


Click here to buy Moonlight Hunting: The Cardonian Chronicles Book Two (Volume 2)

Kathrine LaFleur was interviewed on this blog September 7, 2016.

A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


Book Promotion on my Blog



Once you have the green light, please send the following information for one book you wish to promote on my blog.

A bio of no more than 100 words.

A portrait picture of you.


Picture of the cover


(I do not promote books that have horror, erotica, religion, politics, excessive violence, born again, amateur self-help, or saved by something. No animal exploitation, cult membership, racism, homophobia, misogyny, or hate literature of any kind. I will promote very few memoir. They must have something exceptional to say.)

Age level and/or reading level for this book.

(Does it contain mature subject matter?)

Up to five quotes from book reviews totaling no more than 200 words.

Link to a book trailer if you have one.

Awards, if you have any, for this book.

Links to where the book can be purchased.

Your media links.

If you have them, one or two pictures of you signing books, working on your book, or engaged with an audience. Or, you can include one or two pictures from the pages of the book.

Your promo will run after I have received a print copy of your book for my Little Free Library. If you cannot afford to send a copy, we can discuss other ways to show mutual support.

I may or may not read your book. Inclusion on my blog in a promotion does not necessarily mean my endorsement of your work.

***Please send pictures as attachments in JPEG format.

Educational Adventure: Cindy C. Murray – Three Random Questions Interview

Cindy C. Murray is the author of the Adventures of Sophie and Scottie series. As a mother of two daughters and coming from a family of seven children, she has plenty of ideas for writing.

Sophie and Scottie’s Adventures of the Monarch Mystery is the first book in The Adventures of Sophie and Scottie series.  This book has won the Gold 2015 Family Choice Award, the 2015 Finalist Award from San Diego Book Awards for Best Published Children’s Book for Excellence, 5 stars from, and has earned 4 stars from a Top 100 Reviewer on


Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Cindy. Could you tell us a little bit about your books?

Cindy C. Murray: My books are adventure mysteries. I have three of them published; Sophie and Scottie’s Adventures of the Monarch Mystery, Sophie and Scottie’s Adventures of Something’s Fishy, and Sophie and Scottie’s Adventures of Sweet Tooth Rock (2014 Silver Mom’s Choice Award).  The main characters, Sophie and Scottie, are adventure seekers who are 11 and a half (as they always say) non-identical twin sisters.  They live on a 10,000 acre sheep shearing ranch called Shear Heaven.  To reward them for their hard work on the ranch, their globetrotting Auntie Jill sends them a gift.  Little do they know that this gift; a crystal covered frame, is magical and acts as a portal to distant lands and amazing adventures.   The girls must use their wit, bravery, and teamwork to empower themselves to help solve the mystery within the frame.

(This book will be reviewed January 2, 2017.)


Click here to buy Sophie and Scottie’s Adventures of the Monarch Mystery

(The Adventures of Sophie and Scottie Book 1)

Ferrante: All three books in your Sophie and Scottie series have won a Silver Mom’s Choice Award (as well as other awards). Why do you think mothers like these books so much?

Murray: Because the books are about pure adventure without social and personal drama.  I wanted the reader to be able to escape their day-to-day challenges and join Sophie and Scottie on their amazing journeys.

Ferrante: Why have you chosen to write books for 8 to 12-year-olds? Do you plan on continuing for this age group?

Murray: I focused on this age group because this is the age where kids need to be really comfortable reading this amount of text in chapter books.  When I would volunteer in my daughters’ classrooms within this age group, I would see how much the students loved to read, but I could also see their frustration with the amount of pages (without illustrations and smaller font sizes) the books would have.  I really want to promote literacy for this age group as well and writing these books are helping me to achieve this goal. Therefore, I will continue to write for this group. In fact, I’m working on my 4th book now.

Ferrante: From your book settings, I would guess that you travel a lot. Do you? What do you get from it? Do you feel it is important for writers to travel?

Murray: I’ve traveled a bit, and I enjoy learning about different cultures, lifestyles and their environment. But, I don’t think a writer needs to travel as much as they need to have various experiences to include in their writing.

Ferrante: Are your books pure escapism or do they carry subtle messages for children to absorb?

Murray: I want the readers to know that they can accomplish anything if they put their mind and resources to work for them.

This is what Sophie and Scottie figure out in their adventures.  My books also have “Edutainment” in them.  I use a dash of science to, hopefully, encourage the reader to research some of the topics included into the plot.  For instance, in the “Monarch” book, the reader learns about pollination, pulley systems, Monarch butterflies, and a zip line.  In the “Fishy” book, the reader learns about ocean currents, magnets, Amelia Earhart, yurts, and dolphins.  In the “Sweet Tooth Rock” book, the reader learns about where sugar comes from, the freeze drying process, the mechanics of skiing, grizzly bears, and the Northern Lights.


Ferrante: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? How do you manage it?

Murray: The biggest challenge was making a writing process that worked for me and supported my writing style.  Then once I figured this out, I just carve out a time of day I like to write and go!

Ferrante: How do story ideas come to you? 

Murray: They come to me by hearing what interests kids, what’s trending environmentally, as well as, in the entertainment world, and with topics I like that I have to figure out if this age group will like it too.

Ferrante: Do you write an outline before every book you write?

Murray: I do outline all subplots and the entire book.  The outlines do change, but at least I have a sort of road map to my book that I’m writing.

Ferrante: What do you hope to achieve in the future?

Murray: I have been encouraged to write a screenplay for all of my books.  I’m told that studios will be very interested in my story.  Therefore, I’m working on book one, “Monarch,” now.  I’m almost done with it and hope to see Sophie and Scottie leap from the written page and onto the digital stage!


three random questions

Ferrante: What is the best hundred dollars you have ever spent in your life?

Murray: I donated this money to a young burn victim that couldn’t escape the flames in her neighborhood.

Ferrante: If you were a songwriter drawing from recent experiences in your own life as material for your next big hit, what would be the song’s title?

Murray: Everything is Possible.

Ferrante: If you could change one – and only one – aspect of the US presidential election process, what would it be?

Murray: To use donations more to encourage all registered voters to vote.

Ferrante: Interesting response. Thank you, Cindy, for spending the time with us today. Best of luck with all your writing.

Other links:

Twitter: @cindycmurray




Readers Favorite:

Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


Ancient Treasure & Modern Intrigue: The Lost Crown of Apollo by Suzanne Cordatos. Book Review.

Click here to buy The Lost Crown of Apollo

The basic premise of this story is that Elias and his family travel to Greece where he finds a lost ancient treasure, a gold crown of Apollo. He hides it with the plan of selling it and using the money to fill his fantasies. However, encountering an archaeologist and a police officer who are both concerned about thieves selling antiquities, makes Elias reconsider his decision. Enter the robbers. Excitement builds and Elias finds himself in the thick of a dangerous situation with his little sister.

The major protagonist, Elias, sounds and acts like a grade 5 student. His emotions and reactions are realistic as are his fears and secrets. He is a believable character, as is his eight-year-old sister Lily. Their relationship is familiar with arguments and teasing but with loyalty and love being the strongest. The parents are supportive, loving, and trusting without being syrupy or intrusive.

Between school memories, reading a book of legends, daydreams and fantasies, and nighttime dreams, the reader spends quite a bit of time out of the present. But it seems to work quite well to give the story an historical and imaginative feel. The flashbacks work in the context of this story. The parallel story of Pindar the invader (in Elias’s legends book) echoes Elias’s need to succeed and be regarded with respect by his peers. The beginning of the book reads much like a travel diary, but the suspense slowly builds to a gripping level.

Elias has had a terrible year at school and much of his summer is spent in trepidation thinking about September. By the end of the book, his experiences and his actions have built his confidence and made him comfortable with his future.

Suzanne Cordatos spent time on the island of Delos where the fictional theft occurs. Her description is vivid and intriguing. While having photographs of the island adds to the authenticity of the story, the pictures look washed out. Perhaps the contrast could have been increased in a graphics program. The author might have gotten away with this if she had labeled the pictures as though one of the children had taken them. Some of them are difficult to discern.

This book introduces Greek culture at a level middle grade students can absorb and enjoy. Many children will recognize such things as feta cheese and gyros but there are other foods and traditions that will be new to their experience. This would be an excellent book for a teacher to read to her class as a follow-up to a unit on ancient Greece.

The writing is mature and polished. The editing is flawless.

Middle grade students would love this book and even adults would find the cultural and historical bits and pieces of interest.

Suzanne Cordatos was interviewed on this blog on September 14, 2016.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Are You a True Northerner? Recycled Sundays.


Canada is a country of immigrants. Our families may have immigrated in this century, before Confederation, or during the last ice age, but we all came from somewhere else. Still, it does not take long for this vast, rugged country to make its mark upon a person.

Those who call the North home are no expectation. But, to be a true Northerner, it is not enough just to be a Canadian. We have our own style. The mosquitoes, 30 degree celsius temperature variations, twisting highways, black spruce, rocks and more rocks, and multitude of lakes make a unique mark upon inhabitants.

Whether your family came from another country, another province, or a southern city makes no never mind. If you can say yes to twelve or more of the following statements, you are a true northerner.

  1. You suppress a laugh when American (or Southern Ontario) news broadcasts say their city was paralyzed by three inches of snow and the temperature dropping to twenty below.
  2. You can button, snap and zip while wearing down-filled mittens.
  3. You can blow your nose on a tissue used on two previous outings.
  4. Your yellow wax has nothing to do with floors.
  5. Rock salt and antifreeze are on your weekly shopping list.
  6. You learned to drive a snowmachine before you learned to drive a car.
  7. You can hold your own in an argument over who has the most frostbite scars.
  8. You’ve brewed your own beer and your own wine at least once.
  9. You’ve never owned a car without a block heater.
  10. You call both a two room shanty with an outdoor biffy and a ten room bi-level with two baths “camps.”
  11. There’s more salt on your car than passes through your kitchen in a year.
  12. You have your own opinion about whether beer or tomato juice gets the smell of skunk out of dog fur.
  13. Swerving your car to miss a moose triggers either a hunting story or your favourite recipe.
  14. You don’t know why American’s think we speak differently. Youse guys know that’s pretty dumb, eh?
  15. You know how to remove porcupine quills, fish hooks, leeches and ticks.
  16. You can explain the entire process of ice filtering beer.
  17. You’ve had Chinese fried rice, lasagne, sushi, pizza, pierogies, and wild partridge all at the same meal.
  18. You wear a baseball cap to a hockey game (peak to the front).
  19. You call your spouse “the wife”, “the little woman”, or “the old man.”
  20. You know more than one pizza delivery telephone number by heart and no matter where you live, there’s a donut shop within walking distance.
  21. You’ve camped in rain, hail, lightning, and snow… all on the Labour Day weekend.

If you scored 5 or less, welcome to the north. There’s hope for you yet. Start digging up a part of your backyard for rhubarb.

If you scored 6 to 10, stop dancing on the fringe and go ice fishing. Be sure to wear both sunscreen and a snowsuit. You’ll understand later.

If you scored 11 to 15, you’re a full-fledged northerner. I’ll tell you my best blueberry picking place if you’ll tell me where you get your Saskatoons.

If you scored 16 or higher, you should be running a tourist lodge. Nobody knows the north like you do. You can probably change the oil in your truck when it’s thirty below without getting frostbite. One recommendation, most baseball caps are washable.

January 1993

Click on the cover for more info or to buy the book.

Published Sunday, JANUARY 30, 1994 in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

White Otter Castle Exists in the Deep Northern Woods

Interested in what Terror at White Otter Castle is based on?

My Blurb:

Laurel, Aster, and Beth have been best friends since grade one when they created the “triangle of power”. In September, as high school graduates, they will head off in different directions. Because Laurel fears it will be the end of their friendship, she convinces the others to join her on an end of summer trip – a nine-day canoe expedition to White Otter Castle, deep in the Northern Canadian forest. Unknown to her, the hundred-year-old log castle has a dark secret. The “triangle of power” faces the ultimate test when the dark forest holds a terror they never imagined.

This campy little novella is sure to give you a shiver and a smile.


White Otter Castle and the legends around it actually exist. I didn’t have to dig very far into reality to find the germ of my novella.

Although the amazing structure did fall into ruin for a time, The Friends of White Otter Castle raised enough money to save the log building from collapse. It has become a regular site for canoeists, snowmobilers, and hikers to visit.


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Click on the picture above for information on the town of Atikokan, Ontario and the surrounding area.

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Easter Seals Ontario along with the Atikokan SnoHo and Kiwanis Club of Atikokan are kicking off the 2016 Snowarama season by hosting the 38th annual Atikokan Snowarama for Easter Seals Kids event on Saturday, January 30, 2016.

We invite you to be part of this year’s event, filled with a variety of fun, family-friendly activities throughout the day and night. This year’s festivities include a 100km sled ride north to White Otter Castle, a hearty lunch at Browns’ Clearwater West, dinner at the Royal Canadian Legion, awards, auction and evening entertainment. Click the picture above for more information.

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Snowmobile to the White Otter Castle in the winter

Click on the picture above to go to: White Otter Castle – The Story of Hope and Dreams: THE REMARKABLE STORY OF JIMMY MCOUAT by By Erin Rody Staff Writer for Sunset Country

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White Otter

Click here to buy the novella in Canada.

Click here to buy the novella in the United States.

Click here to buy the novella in the U.K..

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages