April 09, 2021

Kimmy & Mike

Written by Dave Paddon
Illustrated by Lily Snowden-Fine
Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides
32 pp.
Ages 5-9
March 2021 

I'm sure siblings Kimmy and Mike have had some pretty extraordinary adventures on the sea but even I find it hard to believe how a simple fishing outing could become a round-the-world trip of danger and folly. But that's a tall tale for you. See what you believe in this narrative poem and tall tale from Newfoundland and Labrador's Dave Paddon.
It has often been said, and I can't disagree,
That there's no one as tough as our folk of the sea.
But two of the toughest, if the rights was known,
Were Kimmy and Mike, who lived in Belloram.
So begins the tale of Kimmy and Mike who go fishing on order from Mom to "Get something for the pot!" Unfortunately, their best fishing spot lands them only a few sculpins and kelp so they scull around the Gulf and the Straits and elsewhere before deciding they need to cross the pond i.e., the Atlantic Ocean.
From Kimmy & Mike by Dave Paddon, illus. by Lily Snowden-Fine
Not only do they cross the ocean, they pass through two hurricanes, declaring the 90-knot winds and 60-foot waves to be "a bit of a lop", and catch a small submarine and a squid with 60-foot arms and a 30-foot head. But, throwing both back, they head southward towards the Cape of Good Hope where they encounter a 100-mile iceberg which they cleave with an axe, before Kimmy fights off some pirates single-handedly.
From Kimmy & Mike by Dave Paddon, illus. by Lily Snowden-Fine
Then there's the merman named Saul and a visit to Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii before their mother finds them. Having taken out their father's old punt, she's been doing her own fishing and intends to continue on, sending the twins home.
She said, "Get on home out of it, through the Panama Canal,
And make your father his tea–you know he's not well.
I'm just going to dart 'round Cape Horn while it's light
And stop into Rio for bingo tonight."
From Kimmy & Mike by Dave Paddon, illus. by Lily Snowden-Fine
The twins eventually make it back home, after a stop at the Galapagos and tunnelling beneath the Panama Canal, while their mother, having won a jackpot in Rio and salting and drying her plentiful catch, returns the next morning.

Readers will finish the rhyming story of Kimmy & Mike with a smile upon their faces, envisioning the twins' exploits and the extent of their travel. (This would be a fun geography lesson, especially when coupled with math to determine the probability of this all happening in one day.)  It could even become a ballad if set to music, with its rousing story, melodic nature of ups and downs, highs and lows, and big moments. Add a fiddle, an accordion and maybe an ugly stick and you got a kitchen party going. With this tall tale of fisherfolk, Dave Paddon takes us to Newfoundland and Labrador, to the people who have stories to tell, who use a language of their own (I had to look up several of the words like crousty, stage and sooky in the "Glossary" provided) and try to outdo each other with their tongue-in-cheek stories.

With Lily Snowden-Fine's gorgeous gouache artwork to complement Dave Paddon's story, though, Kimmy & Mike goes beyond just a folk tale. It may have the whimsy that is often associated with folk art but there is a refinement in Lily Snowden-Fine's lines and shapes that make each illustration a work of art, stark but refined, colourful and resonating with the spirit of the Newfoundland and Labrador. 

In the tradition of the recitations, which Dave Paddon discusses in his "Afterward," Kimmy & Mike's fishing adventure would win any kitchen storytelling contest, for its rhyme, plot and artwork. I only wonder what Kimmy and Mike, and their mother, will get up to next time because, you know, there will be another story to tell.

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