August 04, 2017

Capelin Weather

Written and illustrated by Lori Doody
Running the Goat Books & Broadsides
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
July 2017

When the small fish known as capelin are rolling, it's a sight to behold and one with which many Newfoundlanders and some others on the Gaspé and in Nova Scotia are familiar.  Normally the capelin arrive to spawn on the beaches sometime between June and July, at the onset of summer, and grey, cold, wet weather is referred to as capelin weather.  But for Kate, the end to Capelin Weather can't come soon enough!
From Capelin Weather by Lori Doody
Like many children, summer holidays means the freedom to be outside playing in the sun and warmth.  For Kate, it means picnics and swimming and soccer and bonfires on the beach.  But not this year.  This year it is cold and overcast and rainy.  All the things she wants to do can't be done.  Her bingo-playing grandmother explains that when this "capelin weather" passes i.e., when the capelin arrive and people have collected their fill, a hot and sunny summer will be left behind.  Kate tries to make the connection between the small fish and the weather, imagining them falling from the sky like rain.  That is until the capelin do roll in.  Then the people come out to catch some, as does Kate, heralding the true beginning to summer.
From Capelin Weather by Lori Doody
Lori Doody's story is quintessential Newfoundland with its rocky beaches, summer past times, icebergs, lupines, lighthouses and more.  From the paintings on the wall of Kate's room and where her grandmother plays bingo–pictures of the Queen and a Newfoundlander dog– to the landscapes of shores and sea, Capelin Weather is a folk artist's rendering of the province affectionately known as the Rock.  The story is not an unusual one–a child wishing for warmer weather to have some outdoor summer fun–but it is unique in the context of that summer weather being signalled by the arrival of some fish and a fishing expedition like no other.  Of course children who've participated in this summer ritual and live in Newfoundland will love this story. But I'm sure other young ones will enjoy it as well, fascinated by the practice, the scenery and the weather lore within.  From her story to her boldly-coloured art, Lori Doody gets the flavour just right (though I do wonder what capelin taste like!)

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