As I began to proofread a new e-book version of Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone, written by Saskatoon author Mary Harelkin Bishop, I intended only to quickly check the pages to make sure all the content was there.
That's my job, after all, as the editor and publisher of this and every other book I've produced.
But this is no ordinary book.
This is no ordinary story.
And this is no ordinary author.
The words of the book drew me in and I began to read... and read... and read some more.
Even though I've read these words of the Mistasiniy book a half dozen times already in my roles as editor and publisher, I needed to read them again. I was thrilled to be reminded of the great work that Mary and I have accomplished as partners in writing and publishing this and other books of Canadian historical fiction for young readers.
Mary wrote Mistasiniy as a follow-up to Seeds of Hope: A Prairie Story, her first book published with my company, DriverWorks Ink, in 2008. In Seeds of Hope, the main character, Danny, loves growing up on a family farm in Saskatchewan. He is learning about the difficulties of farm life while also dealing with some troubles at school with some other children who are bothering him.
A few years later, in the book Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone, a new teacher at the school pairs Danny with one of the Indigenous kids, Zach. Danny and Zach don’t like one another, but they’ve never bothered to get to know one another either. They have to work as partners on a school project in which they have to research and report on their families' histories of coming to Canada.
Neither of them is happy about this pairing, but Zach is especially unhappy.
The assignment raises emotions in Zach and he isn’t sure why.
Author Mary Harelkin Bishop has been a teacher, a teacher-librarian, and an educational/ instructional consultant with Saskatoon Public Schools and spent more than half her career working in core neighbourhood schools. She is best known as the author of the bestselling Tunnels of Moose Jaw series of Juvenile/ Young Adult adventure books (which my company, DriverWorks Ink, is updating and republishing).
In 2014, Mary earned a Master of Education degree. Her thesis was titled "Soul-to-Soul Teaching: Deconstructing Dominant Thinking in the Classroom". She has mentored young writers and adults as they work on their writing and find their voices. Most recently, she has been involved in a writing project with seven schools within the umbrella of the Saskatoon Tribal Council. Working in classrooms on the seven reserves, she has helped teachers and students research and write about their history.
Mary feels strongly that three of her newest books – Gina’s Wheels, Mistasinîy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone, and Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather – are all Calls to Action toward the Reconciliation of all Canadians.
Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone received Honorable Mention in the Young Adult categories of both the 2017 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards in Michigan and in the 2017 Hollywood Book Festival which recognizes books that would make great films or movies. Gina’s Wheels and Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather have also won several awards, including Skye Bird being named one of the Best Books for Kids and Teens in 2018 by The Canadian Children's Book Centre.
Mary Harelkin Bishop will continue to write books for young people aimed at helping young readers, teachers and parents have conversations about the Calls to Action, Reconciliation and relationship-building within all of our communities.
DriverWorks Ink will continue to publish those books.
Order your copies today from http://www.driverworks.ca/shop.html
Reader comments about Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone:
“A must-read book for all youth. This touching novel told from two youth perspectives of courage and hope, brings together a First Nations and non-First Nations family who demonstrate the true spirit of Reconciliation.”
- Joanna Landry, Coordinator, First Nations, Inuit and Metis Education, Regina Catholic Schools
“I was ready to recommend this book to teachers even before it was published. I hope that it will impact the way teachers connect with Indigenous children.”
- Amy Basaraba – FNIM (First Nation, Inuit and Métis) Consultant for Saskatoon Public Schools
“Teachers will read this and become better teachers. Kids will read it and become better friends. Parents will be better parents and neighbours will be better neighbours. Families are honoured.”
- Lorraine Chapman, Grade 3 teacher, Saskatoon, SK