Tag Archives: Middle Grade

WOW! Blog Tour for “The Silver Box” by Margi Preus

This is my first time being a part of a WOW! Women on Writing Blog Tour, and I am so happy that I am starting with the book “The Silver Box” by Margi Preus. 

My Review

Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

“The Silver Box” is part of a series but could be read as a standalone without any problem. I have not read the first two books of “The Enchantment Lake” series, but reading this, the final book in the series, makes me want to read the whole series.

From the get go the author captured my attention with not only one but several mysteries—what happened to Francie’s mom, how to open the box, why the box is so valuable—and I was intrigued by all these layers. Preus had the right amount of tension to keep me interested throughout the entire book. In fact, had I had the opportunity to do so, I would have read the book all in one sitting.

The focuses of the book—concerns about the environment and racism—are timely matters, and I appreciated that. I loved the diversity of the characters in the series, which included an indigenous character and elderly characters. 

I also found myself googling to find out more about the plants and incidents that are in the story. There is an author’s note at the end about what is factual in the book.

I highly recommend this middle grade novel.

Book Summary

In the final Enchantment Lake mystery, Francie’s search for the truth about her mother—and herself—plunges her into danger during a North Woods winter. 

When she wakes in her aunts’ cold cabin on the shore of Enchantment Lake, Francie remembers: everything about her life has changed. Or is about to. Or just might. Everything depends on the small, engraved silver box that she now possesses—if only she can follow its cryptic clues to the whereabouts of her missing mother and understand, finally, just maybe, the truth about who she really is. 

Francie, it turns out, has a lot to learn, and this time the lessons could be deadly. Her search for answers takes her and her best friends Raven and Jay as far afield as an abandoned ranch in Arizona and as close to home as a sketchy plant collector’s conservatory and a musty old museum where shadows lurk around every display case. At the heart of it all is a crime that touches her own adopted North Woods: thieves dig up fragile lady’s slippers, peel bark from birches, strip moss off trees, cut down entire forests of saplings to sell for home décor. But Francie is up against no ordinary plant theft. One ominous clue after another reveal that she possesses something so rare and so valuable that some people are willing to do anything to get it. When Francie’s investigation leads her into the treacherously cold and snowy North Woods, she finds out that she too is being pursued. 

Print Length: 216 Pages 

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction 

ISBN-10: 1517909680

ISBN-13: 9781517909680

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press 

The Silver Box is available to purchase at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, and Thrift Books. You can also add this to your reading list on GoodReads.com.

About the Author Margi Preus

Margi Preus is the author of the Newbery Honor book Heart of a Samurai and other books for young readers, including the Minnesota Book Award winning West of the Moon, and the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award book The Clue in the Trees. Her books have won multiple awards, landed on the New York Times bestseller list, been honored as ALA/ALSC Notables, selected as an NPR Backseat Book Club pick, chosen for community reads, and translated into several languages. New titles in 2020 include Village of ScoundrelsThe Littlest Voyageur, and The Silver Box, part of the Enchantment Lake mystery series. 

Back when such things were done, Margi enjoyed traveling, speaking, and visiting schools all over the world. Now mostly at home in Duluth, she likes to ski, hike, canoe, or sit quietly with a book in her lap.  

You can follow her online at: 


Twitter: @MargiPreus 

Instagram: @MargiPreus

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargiPreusBooks/


Be sure to check out the other stops on the WOW blog tour:

October 12th @ WOW! Women on Writing What goes better with coffee in the morning than a muffin? Stop by WOW’s blog The Muffin and join us as we celebrate the launch of Margi Preus’s book The Silver Box. Enter to win a copy of her entire Enchantment Lake Mystery series.https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

October 13th @ Mindy McGinnis Join Mindy McGinnis as she interviews author Margi Preus about how she came up with the idea of The Silver Box and the Enchantment Lake Mystery series.https://www.mindymcginnis.com/

October 14th @ Bring on Lemons Visit Crystal’s blog today and read her review of Margi Presu book The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

October 14th @ Reviews and InterviewsJoin Lisa as she interviews Margi Preus and finds out more about this incredible author!https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

October 16th @ The Frugalista Mom Visit Rozelyn’s blog today and read her review of The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. You can also enter to win a copy of the entire series!https://thefrugalistamom.com/

October 17th @ Carrie Sorens’ Blog Visit Carrie’s blog and read author Margi Preus’ guest post about raising big questions for readers to ponder (that don’t always have an answer).https://www.cksorens.com/blog

October 18th @ Fiona Ingram’s Blog Stop by Fiona’s blog and check out a spotlight of Margi Preus’ book The Silver Box. You can also enter to win a copy of the whole series!http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

October 20th @ The Faerie ReviewJoin Lily as she reviews The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake middle-grade series.http://www.thefaeriereview.com/

October 20th @ Susan Uhlig Join us today as Susan reviews The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake middle-grade series.https://susanuhlig.com/

October 21st @ Lady Unemployed Visit Nicole’s blog today where you can read Margi Preus’ guest post about how all writing is political and how to weave local or national issues into storytelling.https://ladyunemployed.com

October 21st @ The Frugalista Mom Rozelyn goes live on Facebook with author Margi Preus. Join them as the author talks about her wonderful middle-grade mystery series.https://www.facebook.com/AllergyFriendlyHome/

October 22nd @ The Knotty Needle Visit Judy’s blog today and read her review of The Silver Box, part of the Enchantment Lake middle-grade series.https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com

October 24th @ Carrie Sorens’ Blog Join Carrie again where you can read her review of The Silver Box, part of the Enchantment Lake middle-grade series. You can also win a copy of the series too!https://www.cksorens.com/blog

October 26th @ Kathleen Pooler’s BlogJoin us at Kathleen’s blog today where she will be featuring author Margi Preus and her book The Silver Box.https://krpooler.com

October 29th @ It’s Alanna Jean Stop by Alanna’s blog today where she shares Margi Preus’ guest post about finding inspiration out the window.http://itsalannajean.com/

October 30th @ Lori Duff Writes Join Lori Duff as she reviews Margi Preus’ book The Silver Box, the third book in the Enchantment Lake mystery series. https://www.loriduffwrites.com/blog/

November 1st @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog Visit Anthony’s blog today and read his review of The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 2nd @ World of My Imagination Join Nicole as she reviews The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. Also, you can enter to win a copy of the whole series.https://worldofmyimagination.com

November 4th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog Join Anthony’s blog again today and you can read his interview with author Margi Preus.https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 4th @ Crafty Moms Share Join Carrie as she reviews The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, the third book in the Enchantment Lake mystery series.https://www.craftymomsshare.com/

November 5th @ Bev. A Baird’s Blog Join Bev as she reviews The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, the third book in the Enchantment Lake mystery series. Don’t miss her review of this charming middle-grade fiction series!https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

November 7th @ BookMama789 Join us over at Jean’s Instagram page as she reads and reviews The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, part of the Enchantment Lake mystery series. https://www.instagram.com/bookmama789/

November 8th @ Shoe’s Stories Join Linda at her blog today and read her review of The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, part of the Enchantment Lake mystery series. https://lschuelerca.wordpress.com/

November 9th @ Always in the Middle Visit Greg’s blog today and read his review of The Silver Box by author Margi Preus. You’ll love hearing about this middle-grade mystery series.https://gpattridge.com/

November 11th @ Bookapotamus Join Kate as she reviews The Enchantment Lake mystery series, part of The Silver Box blog tour. You’ll love hearing about this middle-grade mystery! https://bookapotamusblog.wordpress.com/

November 13th @ Choices Join Madeline as she features Margi Preus’ book The Silver Box on her blog today. You’ll definitely want to add this book to your reading list!https://www.madelinesharples.com

November 14th @ Reading in the Wildwood Visit Megan’s blog today she reviews The Enchantment Lake mystery series, part of The Silver Box blog tour. You’ll love hearing about this middle-grade mystery! https://readinginthewildwood.com/

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler


Canadian Books for “I Read Canadian Day” 2020

So what are you going to be reading for the first annual “I Read Canadian Day”?

What’s that? You haven’t heard about it? And what exactly is it anyway?

“I Read Canadian Day” is “a national day of celebration of Canadian books for young people.” The first one is this coming Wednesday, February 19.

Here’s some suggestions of books I have recently read.

Picture Books

“Albert’s Quiet Quest” by Isabelle Arsenault 

I won this fantastic book in an Isabelle Arsenault prize pack from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Albert goes on a quest for a quiet place to read his book, but he is soon joined by his less than quiet neighbourhood friends.

“Up! How Families Around the World Carry their Little Ones” Written by Susan Hughes and Illustrated by Ashley Barron 

Babies around the world are carried by various family members in different ways. My favourite pages are the one where the baby is nestled in grandmother’s parka and the one where the twins are seeing the world in uncle’s baskets.

“An Inukshuk Means Welcome” by Mary Wallace 

Wallace takes each letter of the word Inukshuk, which are stone towers, and represents it by an Inuktitut word. My favourite part is the other types of stone towers that Wallace inserts throughout the book and explains at the back of the book.

“Go Show the World: a Celebration of Indigenous Heroes” by Wab Kinew; pictures by Joe Morse

Kinew celebrates Canadian and American indigenous heroes, some famous and some not, through a rap song. There is great back matter with the biographies of the heroes mentioned.

Kinew is also an accomplished musician. Check out “Heroes” in the following video.

“The Grizzlies of Grouse Mountain: The True Adventures of Coola and Grinder by Shelley Hrdlitschka and Rae Schidlo, illustrated by Linda Sharp

The story of how the grizzly bears came to live on Grouse Mountain, but also facts about grizzly bears, such as how they “cork” themselves during winter. I particularly enjoyed this book, because I visited them when I was in Vancouver a couple of years ago.

Here’s me, a little wet, in front of the grizzly bear enclosure

Middle Grade

“Nikki Tesla and the Fellowship of the Bling” by Jess Keating

Admittedly I haven’t read this book, which is number 2 in a series, because it’s been released so recently, but if it’s anything like the first book, I am in for a treat. It’s likely the book that I will be reading on Wednesday.

Graphic Novels

“Friends with Boys” by Faith Erin Hicks

Faith Erin Hicks is a Canadian writer and illustrator, and she is incredibly talented. “Friends with Boys” is her 2012 graphic novel, which is semi-autobiographical, about a ninth grade girl entering public school for the first time, after being homeschooled. There are several threads in this story: her relationships with her three older brothers, her coping with her mom leaving, even a ghost!

Adult Books

Because I think everyone should be encouraged to read Canadian, not just young people, I have included a couple of adult books. Or if you want to read at the same time as a young person in your life, but they decline to be read to, pick up a book like one of the following.

“Season of Fury and Wonder” by Sharon Butala

In this series of short stories the season of fury and wonder is the old age of women. The stories contain some hard truths and there are many shocking twists. Every story is inspired by a classic work that has influenced Butala’s writing.

“Nobody Ever Talks About Anything But the End” by Liz Levine

Levine writes about the death of her childhood love from cancer, as well as her younger sister by suicide. The format is uniquely made up of short stories using the alphabet as a structure. According to Levine, “My Alphabet isn’t a history of death. It’s a collection of things that make up death.”

If you are short for time, read this personal essay by Liz Levine’s mom, Carol Cowan-Levine, on how the fragmented health care system failed her daughter.

Here’s another list of Canadian books I have enjoyed reading that I prepared for the end of last year.

Click here for some lists of Canadian books that have been nominated for or won an award.

Are you planning on participating? I’d love to know what you are going to read.

This Week in Canadian Reads (January 2020)

The inaugural “I Read Canadian Day” is just over a month away, on February 19, 2020. Are you planning on participating? Although this day is geared towards young Canadians reading Canadian books, I think Canadians of all ages should be encouraged to participate. What do you think?

Here are a few books for all ages I have read recently that you might like to read on that day.

Picture Books


“Lines, Bars and Circles: how William Playfair Invented Graphs” by Helaine Becker; Illustrated by Marie-ève Tremblay

I never really thought about it, but I guess someone had to invent graphs. Becker does a good job of describing Playfair’s journey to the invention while interspersing it with historical goings on.


“My Winter City” by James Gladstone; Pictures by Gary Clement

In this poem, a boy and his dad and dog have some winter fun.

This year we have had a really mild winter, so we haven’t got much “winter fun” in this year. Still, I can relate to many of the scenes in the book.

Middle Grade

“A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying” by Kelley Armstrong

You might not realize that Kelley Armstrong has a new middle grade series, and this one, the first book, debuted in 2019.

12 year old Rowan is set to be queen, and her twin brother Rhydd is supposed to be the Royal Monster Hunter. Neither twin, however, enjoys their role. When an accident switches things up, it is up to Rowan to prove herself. The book is full of imaginary creatures, such as jackalopes, gryphons, and pegasi. 

I am looking forward to book 2 of this series, set to be launched in June 2020, and am hoping it’s as good as the first.

You can take this quiz, if you are interested in Armstrong’s books, but not sure where to start.

Graphic Novels

“The Adventures of Superhero Girl” by Faith Erin Hicks; colours by Cris Peter

I have been a fan of Faith Erin Hicks ever since I read her middle grade trilogy “The Nameless City”. Though “The Adventures of Superhero Girl” is a little bit of an older read (first published in 2013), I highly recommend it. It’s laugh out loud funny, and I appreciate that it’s set in Canada. Check out “The League of Villainous Canadian Stereotypes”! 

Young Adult

“The Move” by Lori Wolf-Heffner is the first in the “Between Worlds” series.  According to an article on Wolf-Heffner’s website, “Between Worlds” is “…a series of books combining her family history in Europe after WWI and the life of a young dance student in Kitchener today…”

I met Wolf-Heffner at a workshop in December 2019, and I was intrigued when she talked about her family’s history. I am enjoying the dual storyline of one main character who is moving to present day Kitchener, a city I am very familiar with, and another who is living after WWI in a small town in Hungary that is about to be handed over to Romania. Can you imagine?

Adult (Memoir)

“My Father, Fortune-tellers, and Me” by Eufemia Fantetti

I first saw the author of this memoir talk at Wild Writers Literary Festival in November 2019, and I knew I wanted to read the book. Fantetti is the daughter of southern Italian immigrants, and her mother has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and her father clinical depression. Because of this, Fantetti has had to live with the effects of her adverse childhood experiences. The book is never too heavy though. It is as funny as it is heartbreaking.

Poetry (Young Adult, Adult)

“When You Ask Me Where I’m Going” by Jasmin Kaur

As the first poem about skin made me cry—this is something I would be excited about too—I knew it was going to be a book that resonated with me. Watch this video for an example of one of Kaur’s poems.

Do you have a Canadian book that you would like to add to my list?

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

My Canadian Favourites of the Year 2019

Ah, it’s the end of the year, and it’s time for the “best of” lists. I decided that I would share mine with a focus on my Canadian favourites. Canadian books are amazing, but alas they often find themselves overshadowed. 

So why aren’t Canadian books read more? This article sheds a bit more light on the reasons.

There are so many Canadian books that I have read that didn’t get a mention, as well as so many that I am wanting to read. However, these are a few that caught my eye this year:

Favourite Picture Book: “Small in the City” by Sydney Smith

There are few books that make me cry, although oddly enough, I am known to cry at happy endings instead of sad endings. Does anyone else do this? This book though, although the ending is ambivalent, did make me cry. I was happy to hear that it won the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature (illustration). It’s so subtle and complex!

Favourite Memoir/Autobiography: “To Speak for the Trees” by Diana Beresford-Kroeger

Ever since I saw her movie “Call of the Forest”, I have been a Diana Beresford-Kroeger fan. I blogged about it in this post.

I love nature and in particular trees, and Beresford-Kroeger’s message that trees matter really resonates with me.

This book swept me away on its journey of nature and spirituality. The author takes us back to her childhood where what she learned about the ancient Celtic teachings informed her later scientific concepts. The second half is all about the Ogham alphabet, something I hadn’t even heard of before I read the book. I don’t reread books much, but I just might reread this one.

Favourite Graphic Novels: “Three Thieves” series by Scott Chantler

This series isn’t new—the last of the seven book series was published in 2016—but I didn’t discover it until recently. I loved the series so much I read them all in one great big gulp! 

Dessa is on a mission to find her kidnapped twin brother. With the help of Topper and Fisk, she tries to find his kidnapper, Greyfalcon, while at the same time trying to outrun the Queen’s “Dragons’. There are so many twists and turns in this series by Waterloo writer Scott Chandler.

Favourite Middle Grade Book: “Stand on the Sky” by Erin Bow

I loved the movie “The Eagle Huntress”. So when I saw this book, I thought, “Wow, did she write it for me?” The book captivated me from beginning to end. No wonder it won a Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature (text).

I got to express my appreciation to the author—yelling it out of the window of my car—while she was crossing the street to do her introduction at Margaret Atwood’s talk at the Centre in the Square in Kitchener, where she recited some fantastic poetry. Bow certainly is multitalented!

Follow Erin Bow on Twitter (@erinbowbooks) for some fascinating peeks into her writing process and the Governor General’s award ceremony.

Favourite Drabbles Book: “donkey drabbles”

I would be rather amiss if I didn’t mention a book dear to my heart in which I had a drabble published. The book “donkey drabbles” is a fundraising initiative for one of my favourite places, “The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada”. You can read about the book here.

As well, I attended some fabulous talks and festivals this year:

Favourite Workshop:  Ayelet Tsabari’s Creative Nonfiction Workshop

The author of “The Art of Leaving”, which I have bought and not yet read, was very generous with her knowledge of creative nonfiction writing. I blogged about the experience in this post.

Favourite Speakers: 

All the writers I saw were fantastic! There was not one disappointing talk I went to.

These writers I blogged about (and you can read about it, if you click on their names):

Guy Gavriel Kay and Marina Endicott

Eric Walters 

Emma Donoghue

Children’s Book Writers at the Eden’s Mills Writer’s Festival

Wild Writer’s Literary Festival Presenters

These writers I never got a chance to blog about, but I enjoyed their talks just as much:

Margaret Atwood, the grand dame of Canadian literature

Tara Mondou, author of “Little Girl in the Mirror”

“Zwei Writers” Heather Wright and Lori Wolf-Heffner 

Favourite Moments: 

Eric Walters at “Telling Tales” when he gave up the stage to the audience, so we could shelter from the rain while he stood out in the rain under his umbrella. You can view my picture here.

Jess Keating spelled my daughter’s name wrong when she signed her book. While she may be embarrassed by this, I was impressed that the quick thinking author turned the misspelled name into a doodle, and then wrote my daughter’s correctly spelled name after the doodle. My daughter loved it! I hope that I can remain this cool under pressure.

Other Favourites:

Favourite Bookish Journey: On the Trail of L.M. Montgomery, P.E.I.

Fantastic! I enjoyed every minute of discovering all the sites related to L.M. Montgomery and the books she wrote, such as “Anne of Green Gables”.

I blogged about it here.

Favourite New (to me) Website: 49th Shelf

I am not sure how long this website has been around, but it’s one I recently discovered, and since then I have visited again and again. This is a place where you can “Find your next great Canadian read”. There are regular columns about indie picks, children’s favourites, and writer’s stories. Perhaps it appeals to me so much, because it has lots of lists. I do love lists…

Favourite New Initiative: I Read Canadian Books

I learned about this initiative when I was at the “Telling Tales Festival” in September. According to the website, “We challenge the nation to “Read Canadian” for 15 minutes and to share their experience at their library, in their school, with their families and friends, or on social media.” I hope that you participate on February 19, 2020, so we can spread the word about our Canadian books and authors.

How about you? Do you have any Canadian favourites you’d like to share?

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2019 Linda Schueler