Old Growth, Clear-Cut
A Poetry Chapbook by Michelle Barker
During the summer of 2007, Michelle visited Haida Gwaii with her sister-in-law. They spent one blessed week hiking and boating, taking a thousand photographs of trees and absorbing every moment that those magical islands gave them. The poems in this chapbook were inspired by that journey.
ISBN 978-1-926655-54-3 5.5″ x 8.5″, 28 pages
A Year of Borrowed Men (Pajama Press, 2015)
When World War II “borrows” the men in seven-year-old Gerda’s family, the German government sends them three new men in return: Gabriel, Fermaine, and Albert, French prisoners of war who must sleep in an outbuilding and work the farm until the war is over. Gerda knows they are supposed to treat the men as enemies, but it doesn’t seem fair. Can’t they invite them into the warm house for one meal? What harm could it do to be friendly?
Writing from her mother’s childhood memories of Germany during World War II, Michelle Barker shares the story of one family’s daring kindness in a time of widespread anger and suspicion. Renne Benoit’s illustrations bring warmth to the era, showing the small ways in which a forbidden friendship bloomed: good food, a much-loved doll, a secret Christmas tree. Family photographs and an Author’s Note give further insight into the life of Gerda, the little girl who proved that it isn’t so far from Feinde (enemies) to Freunde (friends).
ISBN: 13: 978-1-92748-583-5 32 Pages
The Beggar King (Thistledown Press, 2013)
On Jordan’s fifteenth birthday, Brinnians attack the city of Cir, imprisoning many Cirrans, including Jordan’s mother. No one knows where they are being held. The time is also coming for Jordan to choose a vocation and take his robes, but so far his only talent is in stealing tomatoes. A year passes. Frustrated with the rebels’ inability to overthrow the new regime, Jordan risks everything in a symbolic act of rebellion that humiliates the enemy soldiers. They are about to arrest him; he’s doomed.
Suddenly he hears a voice say, “The world is merely wallpaper…. Hide behind it.” Just like that, he can disappear. But disappearing is an undermagician’s skill, and the undermagic — a dark and old form of sorcery — was banished from this world long ago. How could it have reappeared?
Jordan has received his gift from the Beggar King, a figure from the Cirran old tales akin to the bogeyman. No one believes he exists. But he does, and he seeks someone to help him bring back the undermagic’s full power. If Jordan agrees to help him, the Beggar King will share that power with him so that Jordan can find the Cirran prisoners and save his mother. After that, he’ll be free of it.
But the undermagic is like a drug: dangerous, unpredictable, and hard to give up. And sorcery is a transaction – there is always a price to pay for using it. Jordan finds out too late that his power comes in exchange for his girlfriend Ophira’s life. If he wants to save her, he must kill the Beggar King and return the undermagic to where it was hidden – if it can be returned.
Recommended age: 13+
ISBN: 978-1-927068-37-3 269 pages