About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Storytelling for Selnes Children

I have been thinking about storytelling and children. Through three generations of the Selnes family stories have been all around me.

When I was a boy my Dad would tell my sister, Ann Marie, and I of his life. Most stories involved trapping and hardball (baseball was always hardball to him). He had a soft voice and a keen memory.

Every winter for almost 60 years he trapped wild animals. He was a careful observer of the habits of the foxes, coyotes, muskrats, beaver, mink, weasels, raccons and lynx in our area. He respected the animals he trapped.

He would talk of getting on his skis, with his packboard upon his back, his rifle over his shoulder and heading across the fields to check his traps.

He would also tell us how he would conceal himself and use calls to lure coyotes close enough that he could shoot them.

In the 1940’s he would be accompanied by his dog, Ted, who was a brave airedale terrier. Ted was never intimidated by the coyotes they pursued. Dad loved Ted and was always emotional when he thought of his dog.

For summertime stories Dad would talk about playing baseball with his cousins on the Meskanaw team. There could be as many as 5-6 Selnes’s playing at the same time in the 1930’s.

He would tell of the fun on trips to Sports Days in the back of a grain truck. Of dancing through the night and getting home just in time to start the day’s work on the farm.

They had a good team. He said one day at Silver Beach the first five batters for Meskanaw hit home runs. He was one of them. In his modest way he said the opposing pitcher was a bit discouraged.

Dad had been a catcher and would tell us of putting a beefsteak in the palm of the old round catcher’s mitt to deaden the impact of pitches. By the end of the day the steak would be pounded thin.

When my sons, Jonathan and Michael, were young I would tell them stories of life on the farm. Jonathan would not go to sleep unless I told him a story.

I told him about going to the one room country school called Galabank where there were 8 grades in the classroom. I said it was fun to have all the grades together. I told him I did get in trouble sometimes when I was in Grade 2 because I was more interested in what the kids in Grade 4 or 5 or 6 were learning and forget to do my schoolwork. 

I would tell him of riding in the school bus up and down the country roads. I said kids would sit in the back so they could bounce up when the bus hit ruts or bumps. One day a kid actually flew over a seat and cut his head. Another day a tire came off the bus and went rolling into the field beside the bus.

His favourite story was about Grandpa, my Dad, catching the bear. He never tired of the bear story. One spring bee hives were being damaged. Dad wondered about cattle but that seemed unlikely. When he saw some tracks he figured out it was a bear and borrowed a ferocious bear trap. He baited the trap with some bee larvae (bears like the larvae more than honey) and some fish. By the next morning he had caught the bear.

Now I am telling stories to my granddaughters, Hannah who is 4 and Hazy (Hazel) who is 2, when we FaceTime. Hannah is usually more interested in the stories than Hazy.

Instead of stories from real life Hannah wants me to tell her of adventures. Recently, she has wanted to hear the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It is easy to tell when she enjoys a story. She will say “Again!” as soon as it ends.

Looking to personalize the story I said that Goldilocks Hannah and her sister, Goldilocks Hazel, went into the forest and found the house of the three bears. The girls will try the porridge, sit in the chairs and end up asleep in the little bear’s bed.

I make the house have four floors with a bedroom on each floor and the little bear’s bed on the top floor.

When the bears find them sleeping in the little bear’s bed I sometimes have the girls escape by dodging around or through the legs of the bear.

Hannah sometimes adds to the story by saying the girls knocked the bears over.

Other times I have the girls escape through the window as Hannah has the magic power to fly. Hazel climbs on her back and Hannah puts her arms out and flies through the window.

In my last story Hannah, because she believes in magic, walked through the big mirror that leans against the wall of their living room in Calgary. As she was going through the forest looking for Rapunzel’s castle she accidentally wakes up a bear. He was a friendly bear and he showed her the way to the castle where she helped Rapunzel escape from an evil prince.

More stories are to be told.

(The photo is of Hannah in our backyard last summer.)


  1. Family storytelling is a really important part of what holds people together, Bill, and it is good to hear that you do that for your granddaughters. It's a way in which they can touch the lives of people who lived years ago, and a way of life they can only know through stories. I think it helps sew young people into the human fabric. It's also, incidentally, a really effective way to teach young people to use language, so the research suggests.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Family stories have enriched my life and I hope Hannah and Hazy will have good memories from my stories.

  2. Bill, that is a very nice picture in your backyard, with the flowers behind her. I loved your stories about all the stories you and your father told.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. It is one of my favourite photos. I enjoy telling stories.

  3. How lucky you are to have those two granddaughters to enchant for years to come. And lucky they are to have your stories.

    My father loved Greek myths and he told me and my sister all about the gods and goddesses, the minotaur at Crete, Jason and the Golden Fleece, Kcarus flying too close to the sun and Sisyphys. I still remain them decades later.

    It's to much the relationship and the close bonds that stories help to grow. They will remember them for years.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. It must have been amazing to have your father telling you and sister of those great myths. I am glad you had stories told to you as a girl.