Canada Reads Day 2

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Sadly, I was not in the studio audience for Day 2 and like many Canadians had to listen to the excitement following a busy day at the office.  During the day, it was very difficult to avoid the results of the vote and I was tipped off by social media that the book that I had defended at the Canada Reads: Brantford Public Library Edition was voted off.

On the YouTube recording, it was great to see our CanadianContent friend, Rainey, given props for coming all the way from Bermuda to participate in Canada Reads.  It will certainly be exciting for a group of 12 of us to attend the finale when the one book that will open Canadian’s eyes is chosen.

The show began with Mozhdah commenting on Monday’s results when The Boat People was voted off.  She almost seemed to express relief that she and the author Sharon Bala could now relax and enjoy the show without pressure.

Tuesday’s debating was enhanced by voiceovers from each author describing their own books along with clips of encouragement for each defender including:

  • Jully’s  fan Mike “Pinball” Clemens  who wished the other competitors good luck defending against Jully.
  • Tony Penikett, Tahmoh’s father who reinforced that American War is important as Canada cannot escape the chaos of the United States.
  • Greg Johnson’s daughter who identified herself as the favourite and advised her dad to keep keep pushing through.
  • Mark Sakamoto’s  grandfather who described that Forgiveness was heartfelt in sharing a real life story that will make readers cry and laugh.

If you don’t have time to watch the entire show, here are a few of Tuesday’s highlights for each book:


  • no votes against it from any defender.
  • described the importance of “soldiering on through personal wars”.
  • Jully felt it was two short stories and then was corrected that there were actually 3 stories within the narrative.  Although Ali is the impartial narrator he did add that these stories do come together in the end.

Precious Cargo

  • Greg hopes that Precious Cargo elicits laughter and the understanding people with special needs are approachable.
  • Comments made that the memoir did not reveal enough about character as debaters wanted to know more about the characters including Nadia who spent a lot of time in her own space and had a minor role.
  • Requests for a sequel to learn more about the future for each rider and for Craig, the driver of the bus.

Marrow Thieves

  • This book described in terms of  “survival and thriving”.
  •  It was highlighted that this would be an important read for highschool students.
  • It was during the discussion about this book that the ‘biting’ began between Jully and Jeanne making it difficult to hear as they both strongly shared their views.
  • Tahmoh shared that his mother had attended residential school and highlighted that it is easy to judge indigenous people’s decisions when we don’t know what they endured.
  • He noted that the problem with the book is that it does not speak to issues of today.

American War

  •  Described as age turner by one debator and another shared that she saved the book for last and could only read it 20 pages at a time.
  • There is a dark nature to the book and readers may not want to go to bed worrying about the end of the world
  • Jeanne felt that this book celebrates revenge.
  • Mozhdah shared that the book was very political and that many North Americans ignore what happens in rest of world
  • This book garnered a lot of emotions and at one point the defenders were all talking over each other making it  “very messy for radio listeners”.

The Lightning Round gave each defender 40 seconds to comment on their book and comments included:

  • Jeanne – It is important to learn from past, soldier on and rise above revenge, living  with love and compassion.
  • Jully – The Marrow Thieves is a book of today which reimagines the past and rewrites the future.  It provides a bridge to start the conversation.
  • Greg – Precious Cargo is important because no one is talking about special needs.
  • Tahmoh – He shared that American War reflects urgent times of war; climate change,  child soldiers; radicalization and a loss of innocence which are all ugly topics which need to be told.

The tone of today’s debates was radically different.  There were times that it was difficult to hear debaters talking over each other.  Sadly, while I was hoping for assertive debate and Jully continued to talk over others and interrupt while Jeanne became aggressive.  Mozdah remained fairly quiet and seemed to have difficulty jumping into the conversation.  Tahmoh is likely the most effective debater but his arguments seemed repetitive and Greg could have added different points to his arguments.  I wonder if it would have helped if had connected that while the kids on the bus all had special needs everyone deals with challenges.  Each child, each family, each bus driver and each Canadian deals with their own challenges whether they are visible or unknown to others and we need to be kind and thoughtful.

The voting was interesting, 2 votes for American War and 2 votes for Precious Cargo leaving Jeanne Becker (the debator who did not vote for either of these 2 as the tie breaker).  It was shocking that she chose Precious Cargo when she spoke so strongly against American War.   She denied applying strategy to her vote but it was disappointing to hear her comment that the book did not have the “gravitas” to be in the competition when she spoke so positively for it during the debate.   It was also notable that Forgiveness has not received any votes against it.

Following the debates, a teacher in the audience asked the 5 debaters to speak about how they would champion reading and the importance of reading:

  • Jully commented that as a person often on her phone or computer these books have “relit her imagination“.
  • Mozhdah shared that she uses music and entertainment to promote education to girls in Afghanistan where illiteracy high.
  • Greg said that it doesn’t matter what you read (he loves non fiction) but the important thing is just to keep reading.
  • Tahmoh highlighted the opportunity to hear other peoples stories and get an education about things you might never hear about.
  • Jeanne encouraged the students to journal, writing about their own family experiences.

Day 2 is done and I will see if I can avoid learning who is voted off until I have a chance to watch the debate replays on Wednesday!

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4 Responses to Canada Reads Day 2

  1. Naomi says:

    I was also surprised by Jeanne’s vote at the end! It didn’t seem to make any sense after what she had to say about American War. Even after her explanation. (Good question from that young man!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rob says:

    Love these overviews! Thanks for writing these up.


  3. Strategic voting for sure! it is so exciting to see all the students.


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