Shimmerdogs is the story of young Lester B. Hopkins – Mike to almost everyone except his mother, Master Corporal Alice Mackelwain. He is just a boy trying to make sense of his own world that is ever more complicated by the intrusion of the world of his absent soldiering mother. Mike is very worried about his mother’s safety while she is in Bosnia. He, like his sister, gets caught up in his mother’s tragic stories like the one of a little boy named Edin, whose daily life includes the nightmares of the violence and terror of war. Mike wonders how to make sense of it all, how to step outside the fears he harbours and the unanswered questions he has.

Stumbling upon a book he finds in the library that describes the ancient belief that dogs guard the doorways to death, he begins to shape an understanding of his troubles. Wasn’t he brought back to life by a shimmering white dog with “jewellery eyes” who saved him from drowning? The connections become more apparent when Mike’s dog, Merit, disappears, and he reasons she is on some kind of peacekeeping mission like his mother. Then he meets Jozef Lapinski, an elderly neighbour who has his own miraculous dog story from World War II. The pieces of his puzzling life are taking shape and he knows something but he cannot name it. Despite the admonishments of his teen sister, Nell, who is concerned about the effect of his rampant imagination on their mother, Mike pursues his instincts. As his self-doubt continues to diminish and his trust in his imagination guides his mind to make sense of what he knows, he sees more and more evidence of what he believes is true – that spirit or shimmer dogs are rescuing people from the very real dangers of our world. And for Mike, this is all the more reason to invent agents of protection for his family – or be assisted by them, whichever the case may be.


Peacekeepers By Dianne Linden

Labels are handy for your preserves and files, but when it comes to a good book, a label can be misleading. Peacekeepers, Edmonton’s Dianne Linden’s first novel, is labelled “juvenile fiction.” But this beautiful, multi-layered story is for everyone.

Peacekeepers tells the story of Nellie Letitia Hopkins, a junior high school student and her brother Lester B. (Are maple leaves beginning to appear on the edges of your mind?) These bright children live with their uncle because their single mom is serving as a peacekeeper in Bosnia. Linden skillfully weaves together the lives of this little family with peace in the school halls and peace on the international stage. The story rings true.

Nell deals with her responsibility for a younger brother, her rage at her mom for “caring more about kids in a faraway country than she does for her own children,” with school bullies, with an uncle who knows nothing about parenting, and with the fact that, through e-mails, she becomes caught up in the tragic story of a little boy named Edin whose daily life includes the nightmare of landmines.

We all know that the world has shrunk quickly during the past decade or so, but that is an adult perspective. Children growing up today take for granted that what happens upstream affects those living downstream, and what happens to a little boy in Bosnia – or Israel, Palestine, Sudan or the U.S. – affects children in Yellowknife, Edmonton or Fredericton. This fast-paced book reflects that knowledge while holding us close to the family living the story.

– Reviewed by Carolyn Pogue in The United Church Observer, Sept. 2004


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176 Pages
7.52in * 5.25in * .35in


March 04, 2008


Thistledown Press



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