Showing posts with label beach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beach. Show all posts

August 04, 2017

Capelin Weather

Written and illustrated by Lori Doody
Running the Goat Books & Broadsides
978-1-927917-09-1
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!)

March 20, 2017

Mr. Postmouse Takes a Trip

Written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc
Kids Can Press
978-1-77138-354-7
24 pp.
Ages 3-7
April 2017

Mr. Postmouse is the postmaster but he's closing up the post office and going on vacation with Mrs. Postmouse and his mouselings Pip, Milo and Lulu.  But this is a busman's holiday, if ever there was one, because each stop involves a delivery.  Half the fun of Mr. Postmouse Takes a Trip is looking for what package has disappeared from Mr. Postmouse's wagon and to whom it has been delivered.  The other half of the fun is taking in all the intricate details of Marianne Dubuc's astounding illustrations, overflowing with characters, activity and novelty. If you could only take one picture book on vacation, it would be Mr. Postmouse Takes a Trip, for the sheer volume of stories told within the minutiae of each illustration.

The trip, which is more inclusive than a world cruise, begins with the family Postmouse leaving their rural neighbourhood (I recognize the rural mailbox with its flag up) and bidding adieu to Mr. Bear and heading to a campground.  Amidst the woods of hikers and multitudinous fauna, Marianne Dubuc provides a glimpse into the tidy camper of Aunt Claudette and the family's own tent with cozy sleeping bags.

These pen and ink and pencil illustrations of structures from the camper to a department store and volcanic mountain are quintessential to the Mr. Postmouse series, taking down that fourth wall (or mountain side or ground) to expose an interior of intricacy and wonder.  It's a peek into unseen worlds, more whimsy than real (except for the human structures of food trucks and buildings), always imaginative and elaborate.
From Mr. Postmouse Takes a Trip
by Marianne Dubuc
Next stop: the beach.  Take a glimpse inside the sandcastle Lulu is building for Mr. Crab or into the ladybug’s ground hovel or the ice-cream truck of Mr. Panda. Or look for which package Milo is delivering to a seagull.
From Mr. Postmouse Takes a Trip 
by Marianne Dubuc
The trip continues with a foray onto the seas in an extraordinary cruise ship named the Rosetta, a stop on a volcanic island (and delivery for Tarzan to his tree house), a trek through the desert and into a jungle which seems to pay homage to Rousseau. The trip ends with stops in a bustling city, in the mountains, on an ice field, and with a venture into the heavens via hot-air balloon.  With each new destination, the Postmice deliver packages or envelopes, enjoy the attributes of the new locale and readers witness new worlds burgeoning with life and joie de vivre.
From Mr. Postmouse Takes a Trip 
by Marianne Dubuc
I hope Mr. Postmouse, Mrs. Postmouse, Pip, Milo and Lulu think to send lots of postcards–I'm sure Mr. Postmouse has a healthy supply of stamps!–to help them remember their trip because it is certainly a memorable one.  Even locales which may seem ordinary to some readers are teeming with delightfulness and amusing distractions for both Postmouses (Postmice?) and readers.  There’s Mr. Lizard’s dinner on a plate, meerkats playing chess under ground, the operatic cat putting an audience member to sleep, King Kong hiding, a marmot with booties on his ears, and ants in every location.  Without naming places, Marianne Dubuc may have taken everyone on a seven-continent tour via all manner of transportation.  But, it’s not like Mr. Postmouse Takes a Trip is a picture book to support your geography curriculum.  It is there to entertain and tickle, and it does, providing rich discussion fodder and a fascination with all that goes on, both inside and outside around the world.  Bon voyage!

September 01, 2016

Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles

by Shari Green
Pajama Press
978-1-77278-007-9
240 pp.
Ages 8-12
September 2016

I’m trying to have faith
trying to believe everything
will be okay.
But what if things don’t work out?
What if Jasper leaves,
Daniel can’t breathe,
my parents aren’t in love?
What if my family falls apart,
and I have to choose a parent
and not
the other?
Then what good
 is faith?
(pg. 145)
It must feel like the weight of the world is upon Bailey’s small eleven-year-old shoulders.  Being sent with her 8-year-old brother to stay with their hitherto-unknown grandmother, Nana Marie, at Felicity Bay on Arbutus Island on the west coast seems trepidatious enough but this strangeness is compounded by her concerns for her parents who are attending Marriage Repair camp.
My parents should be here.
We should be together
the four of us–
diamonds, clubs, spades, hearts,
Crazy Eights on a Sunday afternoon,
four quarters making a whole
like we always used to be
but might never be
again.
(pg. 13)
Still Bailey has the joie de vivre to find adventures in everything from the pancakes in which she searches for the face of God–Aunt Debbie saw Tom Hanks’ face in her pancakes once– to a piece of driftwood that becomes a mermaid she christens “Our Lady of the Bay.”  And when the prophecy-delivering ice-cream man Jasper, a former preacher, foresees a stranger coming who will change everything, Bailey is hopeful that it’s Our Lady of the Bay who will bring about some good fortune.  With her parents’ marriage in need of repair, her friend and neighbour Daniel suffering with cystic fibrosis, a community divided and occasionally hostile, the compassionate Jasper being disgraced and driven out of town, and the church’s chalice missing, Bailey and Felicity Bay need a miracle or two.

But, even with these uncertainties and burdens, don’t ever think of Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles as anything but a story, told magnificently in verse form, of hope and courage and trust in the universe.  Good and bad may ebb and flow like the tides but that’s just the nature of  things.  In the end, it is what it is, and Bailey accepts it to be so.  Nonetheless it doesn’t stop her from making an all-out effort to help, whether it be her parents, Jasper, or a beached dolphin, and try to turn the tides of adversity.

Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles is Shari Green’s debut novel but it is an accomplished story in form and content worthy of a seasoned writer.  If you’ve enjoyed reviews on CanLit for LittleCanadians, you know that I am fond of novels in verse, but I fully comprehend the titanic challenge of writing one well.  Balancing structure with plot is complicated.  Yet Shari Green dives right in, creating characters and circumstances that effortlessly carry the reader from beginning to end on waves of sentiments, some fearful, most benevolent, all heartfelt.  Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles is in itself a miracle of a free verse of
…moments
of significance,
ordinary things
that turned out to be
extraordinary.
” (pg. 232)

May 28, 2015

See You Next Year

by Andrew Larsen
Illustrated by Todd Stewart
Owlkids Books
978-1-926973-99-9
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
March 2015

I'll bet lots of families are already thinking about their summer plans, and many already know where and when they’ll be vacationing because it’s become an annual ritual.  It’s a ritual embedded in a known car trip, a familiar cottage à la motel, and a proverbial beach.
We’ve been coming to the same place every summer since I was little.
Nothing changes.
That’s why I like it. 
(pg. 8)
In See You Next Year, the intimacy of the location is only surpassed by the familiarity of the activities.  The very people may change from year to year but the sand-raking tractor, the umbrella-toting visitors, the evening concert at the gazebo bandstand and the beach bonfire are all the same.  However, a new friend,  not unexpected, adds some new milestones to the young girl’s summer.

The rhythm of Andrew Larsen’s text will easily transport older readers to summer holidays as children: the lapping of the waves on the beach, the pattern of the sea of umbrellas , the patter of that inevitable day of rain, the routine of waking, swimming, playing, staying up late and sleeping in.

And Todd Stewart, for whom this is his first picture book, captures the essence of those summer holidays with family in his retro art and minimal palette.  In illustrations in which he could have emphasized a myriad of colours across bathing suits, umbrellas, and blistering heat, Todd Stewart chooses eloquently to underscore the turquoise of the water, the sandy golds of the beach, the midnight blue of a clear sky, or the taupes of a rainy day inside.  It works so well.

I suspect Andrew Larsen may be recreating his own memories or sharing those of his own children.  Either way, summer will seem very familiar and too far in the future until it’s already gone, and a postcard and warm memories are all that are left.  Until next year.

January 19, 2015

Gertrude at the Beach

by Starr Dobson
Art by Dayle Dodwell
Nimbus Publishing
978-1-77108-171-9
32 pp.
Ages 4+
October, 2014

When Gertrude Allawishes, the goat, joined young Starr's family in My Goat Gertrude (Nimbus, 2011), she began an illustrious career of chaotic entertainment for the family and also for young readers.  Now Gertrude returns for a second literary adventure in Gertrude at the Beach, with Starr Dobson, the author and the little girl whose family adopted Gertrude, sharing Gertrude's exploits when the family goes to their summer cottage.

With Gertrude's exuberance, it's no wonder that Mom is apprehensive about having the goat roaming freely around their cottage by the water.  While Chips, the dog, is called trusty, Gertrude is deemed mischievous, and Starr and her two sisters are expected to keep track of Gertrude's activities.  Both animals love to race around, though Chips sticks to playing fetch while the goat gets stuck under an old rowboat and chews up a dried jellyfish.  But when Gertrude goes missing and is found swimming farther and farther out towards a boat and needs to be rescued, the family realizes that Gertrude isn't just getting into trouble.  She's trying to tell them something.

Having never lived with a goat, I can't imagine the turmoil a goat can cause.  Sounds like Gertrude ate just about anything and put herself in some compromising circumstances. But, as Starr Dobson demonstrates in Gertrude at the Beach, Gertrude's shenanigans are not always selfish pursuits, though they are often interpreted as such.  Her haedine heart is as full as her joie de vivre but the tone of the story does not capture the affection the family must have for her.  On the other hand, while Dayle Dodwell's illustrations have the feel of traditional picture book realism, her use of colour and perspective do much to warm the story to the summer days of the past when playing in the sand with family, human and pets, was relaxed and carefree.  Surprises, whether through discovery or calamity, were few but only helped to accentuate the freedom and ease of the season. Gertrude at the Beach reflects a singular calamity on one summer day that ends on a happy note, though I wish the depth of Gertrude's positive impact on the family, whether through words or actions, might have been characterized better.

June 23, 2014

Summer's On! A youngCanLit Picture Book list



Time to go on summer holidays, enjoy or endure vacations with or without family, and savour our Canadian summer, whether it be on the coast, in the city, in the north or in the bush, or even away.  Summer's on!

PICTURE BOOKS


Are We There Yet?
by Nancy Crystal
Scholastic
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
1991

Camping
by Nancy Hundal
Illustrated by Brian Deines
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
32 pp.
Ages 8-11
2002        

Checkers and Dot at the Beach
by J. Torres
Illustrated by J. Lum
16 pp.
Ages 0-3
2012

Dippers
by Barbara Nichol
Illustrated by Barry Moser
Tundra Books
32 pp.
Ages 8+
1997

The Fishing Summer
by Teddy Jam
Illustrated by Ange Zhang
Groundwood
32 pp.
Ages 4-9
1997

Goldsworthy and Mort in Summer Fun
by Marcia Vaughan
Illustrated by Linda Hendry
HarperCollins
64 pp.
Ages 5-6
1990

In the Tree House
by Andrew Larson
Illustrated by Dušan Petricic
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 5-10
2013

Kitten's Summer
by Eugenie Fernandes
Kids Can Press
24 pp.
Ages 1-4
2011

Mayfly
by Marthe Jocelyn
Tundra Books
32 pp.
Ages 2-7
2004

My Family Vacation   
by Dayal Kaur Khalsa
Tundra Books
24 pp.
Ages 6-9
2003

Nana's Summer Surprise
by Heather Hart-Sussman
Illustrated by Georgia Graham
Tundra Books
32 pp.
Ages 5-7
2013

A Prairie Boy's Summer
by William Kurelek
Tundra Books
48 pp.
Ages 8-12
1975

Prairie Summer
by Nancy Hundal
Illustrated by Brian Deines
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
34 pp.
1999

Ready for Summer
by Marthe Jocelyn
Tundra Books
16 pp.
Ages 1-3
2008

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach
by Mélanie Watt
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 5-10
2008

Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping
by Mélanie Watt
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 5-10
2013
Reviewed here

Simon in Summer
by Gilles Tibo
Tundra Books
24 pp.
Ages 3-8
1991

The Summer of the Marco Polo
by Lynn Manuel
Illustrated by Kasia Charko
Orca Book Publishers
32 pp.
2007

Travels for Two: Stories and Lies from My Childhood
by Stephane Poulin
Annick Press
32 pp.
Ages 5-8
1991

The Twelve Days of Summer
by Jan Andrews
Illustrated by Susan Rennick Jolliffe
Orca
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
2005

When We Go Camping
by Margriet Ruurs
Illustrated by Andrew Kiss
Tundra Books
32 pp.
Ages 6-8
2001

Zoe's Sunny Day
by Barbara Reid
Scholastic Canada
10 pp.
Ages 1-3
2001