July 12, 2022

One Summer in Whitney Pier

Written by The Honourable Mayann Francis
Illustrated by Tamara Thiébaux-Heïkalo
Nimbus Publishing
32 pp.
Ages 4-9
May 2022

The Honourable Mayann Francis, Nova Scotia's first Black lieutenant-governor, takes us back to the Cape Breton community of her youth, a place of diversity that gives her the context for her latter vocation. This story takes place two years later from Mayann's First Ride, Mayann Francis's first collaboration with artist Tamara Thiébaux-Heïkalo, and during a 1950s summer which is bountiful with possibilities, even if Mayann doesn't see them at first.
From One Summer in Whitney Pier by Mayann Francis, illus. by Tamara Thiébaux-Heïkalo
With her best friends Eunice and Betty going away, Mayann is faced with filling her time. Though baseball seems a possibility, the Hankard Street Crew tell her she is too young. When she tells her father, a church minister, that there's nothing to do, he suggests she help her mother and him to see how much there really is to do. 
From One Summer in Whitney Pier by Mayann Francis, illus. by Tamara Thiébaux-Heïkalo
There's cooking of her many favourite Caribbean meals, learning to make fudge and soft drinks and baking of cakes and pies to share with neighbours. She helps out at the church, watches her sixteen-year-old sister play baseball, and embroiders. And then she realizes she can combine several of those activities and, with a little help from her friends who return early from holidays, do more good for her community.
From One Summer in Whitney Pier by Mayann Francis, illus. by Tamara Thiébaux-Heïkalo
The Honourable Mayann Francis takes us to a different time and place in One Summer in Whitney Pier. It's a time when summers were not filled with camps, scheduled activities, and tech, and days stretched with opportunities. It's a place where people shared food, and cooking and baking were full-day endeavours. 1950s Whitney Pier was everything to a young Mayann Francis to discover what she could and would enjoy doing and to become a part of something more significant.

That feel to the book also comes from Tamara Thiébaux-Heïkalo's artwork, a blend of pencil and watercolours, giving it a softness appropriate for a nostalgic look at Whitney Pier. The girls wear skirts and white socks, the kids ride their bikes down streets waving to others, and sewing was a skill encouraged in girls. Whitney Pier may not be like that anymore but it gave Mayann Francis a foundation for a life as a public servant and human rights authority and will now give young readers a historical perspective–as well as a couple of recipes–on summers once lived and well spent.

No comments:

Post a Comment