The Atlantic Den
Welcome aboard! In our room you will find books sure to enchant from a variety of Atlantic Canada’s best children’s authors. Come explore our richly diverse culture and colorful past. Keep an eye out for a list of helpful websites to uncover more about the authors their books, as well as booksellers where these treasures can be found.
A Halifax ABC by Yolanda Poplawska is a joy to experience. The opportunities to discuss and share Halifax culture, events, icons and people are endless. The images capture Halifax with incredible detail, from the entrance atop Citadel Hill to the rock wall of the Brew House Market. At the back of the book is a glossary that explains each of the symbols in detail.
C is for Cannon
The star-shaped Citadel hearkens to the days when Halifax was a garrison town and military troops stood ready to fire cannons at intruders in the harbour. Today, a gun is still fired every day on the hill at noon, and visitors can watch military re-enactments and explore the restored structures.
I is for Island
Kite-flying on Citadel Hill can make you feel like you’re on top of the world. The hill is the perfect vantage point: From here you can see the harbour, including George’s Island (on the left) and MacNab’s Island (on the right). Once a key location in the fortifications of Halifax, George’s Island is now a National Historic Site, although it is closed to the public. MacNab’s Island, on the other hand – the largest island in the Halifax Harbour – sees thousands of visitors every summer. The harbour is home to two other islands, Devil’s and Lawlor’s.
So many topics are introduced in this book, from the history of Privateers Warehouse, to the dockyard and bridges, to Buskers and even to piping plovers! Not being from Halifax originally, I learned a lot about the city as I looked through and read this picture book. The details are just the right length to provide a basic understanding of the content.
I borrowed this book from a friend with the thought that perhaps it might be a good idea for a submission for The Atlantic Room. I was really pleased with it and will definitely be purchasing a copy to share with my daughter and another for my classroom. I think it’s a must-have for Halifax residents and tourists alike.
Where I live is an interesting book written by Francis Wolfe, published in 2001. When I went to check this book out of the library, the librarian informed me that she had personally gone to school with Francis Wolfe. That made me even more curious about the book. I figured some of the scenes in the book had looked familiar, but then I realized why They were familiar. I love the way that she is able to share such a beautiful image and feeling while using few words. Although the words flow so smoothly, I believe it is the beautiful illustrations which truly steal the imaginations of readers.
When I went to look for Francis online, I found a nice mini biography which included the following information:
“Author/illustrator Frances Wolfe worked in the Halifax Regional Library system for more than thirty years. Most of those years were spent in the Children’s Services Department, where she became an accomplished storyteller, puppeteer and children’s programmer. Frances has drawn inspiration for her work from the the many children’s authors and illustrators, to whom she was exposed and which she admired, while working at the library. She is a self-taught artist and has illustrated all of her books. Frances and her husband live in a house they built on the shores of Nova Scotia. It stands on a piece of land that has been in her family for almost two centuries. Her love of the sea is evident in her first book, Where I Live, as well as her second offering, One Wish, both of which are available in English and Spanish. Her newest book, The Little Toy Shop, is a departure from the ocean theme. It is a tender tale of love lost and found again at the most magical time of Christmas.”
In September I went to Prince Edward Island for a visit. While I was there I found a very cute picture book called “Lobster in my pocket” (2002). This book is by Deirdre Kessler, a resident of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Lobster in my pocket is set in a fishing village, and tells the story of Lee, a lonely girl who finds a talking lobster named Lucky in one of the crates on the wharf. Lee sets Lucky free and in return he helps save her from drowning in a wild storm after she falls off the wharf.
Lee has a special relationship with her grandmother, but otherwise seems to have few friends or entertaining activities to keep her busy. The loneliness, Lee’s friendship with her grandmother, the magic of Neptune and the talking lobster, commercial lobster fishing, and the disappearance and return of Lee’s cat Nosey are themes which are part of the story. The cover illustration is colourful and attractive, while the gray, white and blue line drawings by Brenda Jones were very realistic of the setting. The print and pictures are also large and readable, which makes it well suited to younger readers.
After doing some online research I discovered that Lobster in My Pocket is said to be suitable for a primary school aged audience. Recommended for ages 6-8, however I would personally extend that to 5-12. It is a good story to begin discussions with children on friendship, loneliness, unusual pets, fishing, and life in an east-coast community.
Kessler has also written; The Private Adventures of Brupp, Brupp on the Other Side, A Child’s Anne (a popular retelling for very young children of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic, Anne of Green Gables).
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I believe we could certainly do with more Canadian picture books with familiar east-coast settings.
I was first introduced to this book a few weeks ago. Sandra and Ron Lightburn came to my school to do a presentation. They told us about their experiences as a writer and illustrator. Sandra read Pumpkin People and told us how she got the idea for the book. Ron went through the illustrations explaining the main and recurring characters. He asked the children to help him tell the stories that they saw in the pictures. It was amazing to see children excited about the book and the fact that the people in front of them had written and illustrated it. Some of the children had seen the pumpkin people in Kentville and were aware that the book was written about something that took place in a community that was not too far away from where they lived.
The Lightburn’s moved to Nova Scotia from British Columbia. When they first moved to the Annapolis Valley, Sandra noticed that the town of Kentville had a wonderful display of pumpkin people. When she saw the pumpkin people she knew that she was living in a place where she would fit in. She decided to write about this special time of year when the pumpkin people take over the town of Kentville.
This book is beautifully written and illustrated. It is obvious that Sandra’s words were carefully chosen to sound melodic and eerie at different points in the story. The rhyme catches children’s attention quickly as do the colourful and extensive illustrations. There are several stories going on in the pictures that are not explained in the words. Children could spend a long time trying to find all of the characters and to figure out their stories.
It was a great experience to see the children realize that there are authors and illustrators living in their area. It was also wonderful that the children could see that things happening around them are written in books. I love that this book can help children realize that anything that happens to them or around them can be made into a story. The value of our stories is evident when other people are interested in listening to or reading them. The students were able to show interest in Sandra Lightburn’s story and recognize that fiction books are the author’s stories. They can connect this to the stories that they write every day in writer’s workshop.
The how to section at the back of the book and the description of the Kentville Harvest festival add something special to the book. Children quickly become excited about making their own pumpkin people and without realizing it are able to learn some of the history of the Kentville Harvest Festival. This would be a great starting point for examining some of their own family and community traditions and writing how to books.
I was browsing through the shelves of the children’s literature section at a bookstore when I discovered The Nine Lives of Travis Keating, a paperback novel whose cover has a black and white sketch of a striped tabby cat sitting casually on a wharf. This image provides only a subtle hint at the drama that awaits the reader. The title alone compelled me to read this novel. I read the first few pages and I was hooked – I had to buy this book.
The main character and narrator is Travis, a young boy about age 11 or 12, who moves from St. John’s with his dad (a doctor) to a small coastal community in Newfoundland. They’ve agreed that it’s an experiment and that if one of them hates living in the community after one year, then they will move back to their home in St. John’s.
“ A year’s not forever. So I agreed. Jeez, was that a big mistake…I only thought how neat it would be to live in a place like Dad’s outport and see whales up close. Not realizing they don’t arrive until next July and the experiment begins in October. Not realizing I’d feel like we’ve been here forever when it’s been less than a week.” (pg. 22)
Travis is a likeable, resilient, compassionate kid who’s coping with his mom’s death while adapting to living in a remote community, and who is attempting to make some new friends – including some wild cats that he discovered on an abandoned wharf in Gulley Cove (where he’s not allowed to go). Also, without giving too much away, Travis has to deal with a local bully, an older, bigger kid named Hud…
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story that was at times humorous, suspenseful, but also pulled at my heartstrings. I found myself worrying about Travis as if he was my own son, but I was optimistic that he would be okay because he was determined, resourceful and courageous. In my humble opinion, the maritime author, Jill MacLean, has crafted a story that is in the same league as the award winning novel, Bridge to Terebithia. The Nine Lives of Travis Keating is a finalist for the 2009 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children, and it is shortlisted for the 2010 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award.
The book Up Home could have been placed in a number of rooms in the house but I choose to put it in the Atlantic Den because I feel it’s extremely important to showcase local authors.
In the poem Up Home, author Shauntay Grant allows readers to share in her vivid memories of growing up in her treasured home town of North Preston. Through the use of real spoken language and the remarkable illustrations of award winning illustrator Susan Tooke, Shauntay takes us through the memories of her childhood, ones that include her grandmother and “the sunshine in her smile”, her mother “braidin’ my hair in the back seat” and her father “hurryin’ us to the car” to get to church. Many of her memories also include heart warming tales of growing up in her close-knit community and happy times she shared with family and friends like “ layin’ on grass suckin’ on freezies” and “runnin’ barefoot through summer laughin’. Through these memories one can’t help but feel the strong bonds that Shauntay felt and still feels between her family and her community of North Preston. While reading this I found myself reflecting on my own childhood and relating to many of the things she wrote about. I think most people growing up in Nova Scotia could. One part of the book that I found to be extremely powerful and illustrates just how strong a bond Shauntay has with her community is found in the last verse “Now you may take me out of Preston but you can’t shake Preston out of me ‘cause Preston is my home”. Up Home is an uplifting recollection of childhood memories, a wonderful piece of African Nova Scotian history and is a book that everyone, especially Nova Scotians, both young and old, should have in their collections.
Up Home received two Atlantic Book Awards for Best Atlantic Published Book and the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration. Up Home is also shortlisted for the 2010 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Awards.
For this blog I wish to call attention to two Atlantic Canadian authors who have made great contributions to local young adult fiction. The first is local author Lesley Choice. Choice, who is a part time professor of creative writing at Dalhousie University and currently resides in Lawrencetown Nova Scotia, is a highly prolific author of over 50 books including children and young adult fiction(short stories and novels), non fiction and poetry.
Choice’s novels are often themed around young adults taking on the “establishment” to stand up for their rights and ignite change, such as Skateboard Shakedown, about a group of friends who’s favourite skateboarding hangout is about to be demolished to make way for a new mall, Big Burn, an environmentally themed novel about two teenagers attempting to stop the dumping of toxic waste in a landfill. Clearcut Danger also takes on environmental themes. His novel Deconstructing Dylan is a futuristic novel, set in the year 2014, involves two outcast teenagers finding solace in each other. On the historical non fiction front, among others is Nova Scotia: Shaped by the Sea, a collection of stories from around the providence.
The second author I wish to draw attention to is Nova Scotia writer Don Aker. A fellow teacher, Aker has published several books for young adults which take a very real look at issues facing teenagers. His first novel, Of Things Not Scene deals with a grade eleven student named Ben Corbett who for nine years has kept the abuse of his alcoholic stepfather a secret until he meets Anne, who becomes his supportive confident and later girlfriend. Akers other well known work is The First Stone. The First Stone goes back and forth between two main characters “Reef” an orphaned teenager who is sent to an youth group home after throwing a stone over an overpass causing a car accident sending Elizabeth, the novels other protagonist, into a coma. Both characters have experienced the loss of someone very close to them through cancer; Reef his grandmother who raised him as he was orphaned at birth, and “Leeza” her older sister. As fate would have it Reef, as part of his service, finds himself volunteering at the rehabilitation center where Leeza is staying. In the beginning though neither is aware of the others identity.
Teachers need to be aware of the heavy use of foul language in The First Stone. While it adds to the book’s realistic portrayal of events, teachers need to take care using it in the classroom. I can remember feeling somewhat uncomfortable reading this aloud to a class in which I was subbing in for, and I can also remember a class where students couldn’t wait to read the parts with “swear words.” I would discuss the use of language with students a before hand. Make sure you have a class mature enough to deal with it and help them to understand who Aker is using the language for a specific purpose. The shock value of hearing a teacher swear wears off eventually anyway.
Atlantic Den Blog #1 by Scott Calnen
Last year, the students in my class were fortunate to have Kristen Bieber Domm visit them. Domm is an excellent author and while visiting she read one of her published books to us. Ahmed and the Nest of Sand is a story that focuses on a boy (Ahmed) who is involved with an organization that helps to protect the piping plovers and their habitat. Domm also brought her two other published works; Atlantic Puffin and The Hatchling’s Journey. These three stories are fictional; however Domm includes a non-fiction section in the back of these books. There, students can learn about each animal’s history, a detailed description, current threats, and ways to help protect them.
My students enjoyed listening to the story and were especially happy to hear the actual author read it to them. Domm discussed how she began her book and what steps she had to take. She used the term “Sloppy Copy” when referring to her rough copy (a term that stuck with my students for the rest of the year.) My student’s eyes went wide when she showed us an example of her sloppy copy and how many changes and revisions she made to it.
A few other facts that my students enjoyed hearing is that Domm’s illustrator is her husband Jeffrey Domm, the director of the Nova Scotia Wildlife Society and has won many awards. Also, Atlantic Puffin, Little Brother of the North, won the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award. This award goes to a book that combines Lillian’s love for illustrated children’s books and her affinity for locally produced work.
Domm came into our classroom and made writing fun. My students were sparked and couldn’t wait to begin their “sloppy copies.” They also enjoyed reading both the fictional and non-fictional sections of her books when they signed them out of the school’s library.
You can send mail to Kristin Bieber Domm care of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.
Uncle Farley’s False Teeth by: Alice Walsh
Uncle Farley’s False Teeth was written by Newfoundlander Alice Walsh. I was first drawn to the book by the familiarity of the cover illustration. The illustrator is Michael Martchenko, whom most of us associate with numerous Robert Munsch books. Before reading the author’s name, I remember thinking, “I haven’t seen this Munsch book before!” I started to read the book after realizing the actual author was Alice Walsh, not knowing however, that Walsh was a fellow Atlantic Canadian. Alice Walsh graduated with a degree in Criminology and English from Saint Mary’s University, and has a master’s degree in Children’s Literature from Acadia University.
As I began reading the story, connections to living on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean became very apparent. I made a mental note to figure out where the author was originally from after I read the book. The story begins with Uncle Farley enjoying a much needed 3-hour nap, while his false teeth rest submerged in a glass on a nearby table. One the wall above Uncle Farley hangs a picture of a fishing boat tackling the rough sea. D’Arcy, Farley’s curious young niece, takes this opportunity to snatch the floating teeth and sneaks away to show them off to her friends.
D’Arcy quickly finds her friends playing on the end of a wharf, a familiar spot for many of us having grown up on the East Coast. While her friends admire the set of teeth, they inevitably slip off the side of the wharf and end up in the possession of a fish with a great big tail and little white freckles on his fin. It becomes quite apparent that the new owner of the teeth has become quite smitten with his new pearly whites, and he quickly swims away. How will D’Arcy ever get Uncle Farley’s false teeth back?
D’Arcy and her friends quickly call on help from community members to entice the fish back from the depths of the ocean. The town surrounding the wharf is quite obviously a fishing community, speckled with brightly painted homes and buildings, reminiscent of the shores of Lunenburg or Saint John’s. Seagulls are scattered in the sky and on rocks along the shore.
The first person obviously called upon for help is the local fisherman, who unsuccessfully tries to bait the fish with a huge wad of purple bubble gum. A dentist is pulled away from the golf course, a police officer retreats to a donut shop, and the mayor is dragged away from a “busy” afternoon of sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons. Although these stereotypical roles were quite obviously exaggerated, I found them to be quite comical in that they all proved unsuccessful in their valiant attempts to retrieve Farley’s teeth.
“The Fabulous Fish with the freckled fin
Swam back into the harbour again
He wore Uncle Farley’s teeth as if
They belonged to him.”
Over and over the fish returned to the wharf when beckoned. With minutes to spare, D’Arcy lets it be known that the teeth belong to someone else. The fish finds himself wondering why someone hadn’t just told him that in the first place. He promptly returns the teeth, flips his large tail, and swims out far into the ocean. Uncle Farley wakes up from his nap, his teeth no worse for wear…except for the fact that they are sporting a few pieces of seaweed.
This entry could easily fit into the Closet as well as the Atlantic Den. I decided to place it here in the Atlantic Den as I believe it is very important to highlight and educate ourselves on our local authors as much as possible.
The Writers Federation of Nova Scotia provides a description of Budge Wilson’s book Fractures. It states,
“Fractures collects twelve unforgettable stories about ordinary kids dealing with challenging, often complex family relationships and problems. While these stories tackle difficult issues and themes – sibling rivalry, alcoholism, illness, child abuse and neglect – they do so with vibrancy and richly observed detail. And each story offers powerful moments of discovery and redemption, as their heroes and heroines seek out and connect with one another, or simply and suddenly realize some essential strength in themselves.”
I truly enjoyed this collection of short stories. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone teaching at the Junior High or High School Level. I found each story equally enjoyable and easy to read. The short stories in this collection range from 10-25 pages in length, each being incredibly unique and real. Each story touches on a different issue, experience or situation. The stories are ones that could easily be believable to everyday adolescences and their families. I think many youth would easily relate to the challenges, relationships and experiences of these children and their families. Reading this as an adult I was brought back to some of my own adolescence experiences and remembering how difficult, at times, being a teenager could be. Some of the stories are motivating, some painful, some invigorating and all very plausible. I think Budge Wilson does a fantastic job in drawing in her audience whether youth or adult. The stories take place in various towns throughout Nova Scotia, so this connection as well will be of great interest to both adolescences and adults.
Now that I know a little more about Budge Wilson and the number and variety of her works I plan on trying to locate others to read myself and with my students. I think it is important for teachers to introduce students to local authors and help them to believe that they too can be authors. Reading stories that include places they know and recognize helps the reader to make those personal connections toward the text. They relate and connect with not only to the people, issues and themes but the places as well. I believe this would be motivating to all readers, old or young alike.
Budge was educated in Halifax schools and attended Dalhousie University. She moved to Ontario and went to graduate school. She worked at the Institute of Child Study at the University of Toronto for a number of years doing various things including: illustrating, editing and writing. She also worked as a fitness instructor for over 20 years. She has many published works and has won various awards for her works. She has been writing juvenile and adult fiction for over thirty years. After living in Ontario for over 25 years she and her husband moved back to Nova Scotia and now they live in a small fishing village on the South Shore of Nova Scotia.
Budge is a member of CANSCAIP- Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers. On her CANSCAIP webpage it says she is available for,
“Readings, workshops, talks to schools, universities, libraries, teachers, librarians, conferences, fledgling writers, and to anyone who might choose to listen.”
Johnny and the Gipsy Moth, by Deannie Sullivan-Fraser
Johnny and the Gipsy Moth, written by Deannie Sullivan-Fraser, is a wonderfully written and illustrated story about growing up in Newfoundland. Johnny and his family have just moved from the big city and Johnny is having difficulty fitting in with the other boys. The boys tease Johnny about his fancy clothes and about being a “gentleman”. They refuse to play with a “townie” and the deflated Johnny retreats into his house, longing for the companionship of his cousins in St. John’s. But just as Johnny is on his way into the house, the local postman arrives with a parcel that changes everything. Johnny is then introduced to his uncle and a whole new world full of adventure opens up before him. This is true story written about Deannie Sullivan-Fraser’s father and it captures the wonderment and imagination of any child who has ever dreamt of flying.
Deannie Sullivan-Fraser is currently living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and is an active member of the Writers in The Schools (WITS) program offered through the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS). Deannie will be visiting our school next week to share her love and enthusiasm for writing with the Grade 2 students. Deannie’s writing, places the spotlight on the importance of family and sharing family stories. During her visit, she will be holding brain-storming sessions with the children and will show them ways to collect and tell their own family tales.
Johnny and the Gipsy Moth is beautifully complimented by the rich illustrations of Hilda Rose. She is a talented local Canadian illustrator living and drawing by the ocean in Prospect Bay, Nova Scotia. Her drawings help to transport the reader back in time to a simpler yet majestic way of life.
In my classroom we have been discussing how ideas for writing can come from our everyday lives. We have created “wonder boxes” that are filled with treasures and pictures of our families. We are quite excited to share these items and stories with Deannie Sullivan-Fraser and to create books to take home to our families.
Bathroom Book of Atlantic Canada and Weird Places in Atlantic Canada
The “Atlantic Den” wouldn’t be complete without the Bathroom Book of Atlantic Canada Trivia, by Andrew Fleming. Fleming was born and raised in New Brunswick and has written about the “Weird, Wacky and Wild” stories that the Atlantic Provinces offer.
Fleming begins this book with an introduction that informs the reader with tidbits of information of all four Atlantic Provinces in hopes to educate the many that believe Ontario is the East Coast of Canada. Fleming’s book is full of Atlantic Canada trivia that that can surprise many readers, including those who call the Atlantic Provinces home. He writes about each province’s flag, flower, bird, tree and motto and even devotes a chapter to “Slang, Slurs, and Sayings” which are quite humorous.
Weird Places in Atlantic Canada, also written by Andrew Fleming, informs children (and adults) about humorous, bizarre, peculiar and strange locations and attractions across the Atlantic Provinces. Readers can learn about the Reversing Falls of Saint John, to the ghosts that haunt Halifax.
Weird Places in Atlantic Canada, and although titled as a “bathroom” book, Atlantic Canada Trivia, are used in my classroom for many reasons; first off, many of my students love learning new and exciting facts about their province and are quick to raise a hand to tell me about what they just learned. Second, my school is putting a push on providing non-fiction books in classrooms to help provide for the many diverse learners. Lastly, both books are divided into small sections which a few of my reluctant readers enjoy. They can flip around to parts that they want to read instead of having an intimidating large chapter book to read from cover to cover.
Both books provide an entertaining and educational experience for both the “Downeaster”, and the folks that “Come-From-Away” and are a must in all Atlantic Canadian classrooms.
Freddy’s Day at the Races
Freddy’s Day at the Races, published in Newfoundland is about an annual regatta in St. John’s. So does that mean that you can’t use the book in your classroom if you don’t live in Newfoundland? Would you not use a book because it took place in Detroit? Not a chance.
This book has lots of uses, I know. I’ve used it. I also know it well because I illustrated it. So how can you use it in a classroom? One way is by looking at the pictures…closely. Within the pictures are several stories not told in the words. This book clearly shows illustration as a storytelling process and allows even the youngest of students to ‘read’ a story.
The book is about a little boy who goes to the Royal Saint John’s Regatta and then runs away from his mother to get to a pirate ride at the other side of the lake. It is about a race at the races. Freddy runs so fast that sometimes he runs right off the page. He is so determined to get to where he wants to go that he never even stops to look around and stays in profile until he arrives at his treasured ship.
The Regatta is a huge annual municipal holiday in Saint John’s. Thousands of people head toward Quidi Vidi Lake to view the rowing races, meet friends, eat stuff that is not good for them and all round have a good time. If you go there you will notice the crowds, it is a people place—thousands of people. So when the story is told, this book is about people, all kinds of people—light people, dark people, fat people, skinny people, young people and old people. And of course Freddy. So every page has people and their stories.
The main body of the book is broken up into spreads—one where Freddy is passing by a vendor and the second following spread is mother passing by the same vendor. The spreads follow in sets of two and provided an opportunity to tell short sequential stories. Freddy’s page introduces some characters and mother’s page follows them in their story. The end, start again.
Students can look at these pages and guess what will happen or tell the story in their own words. It gives them an opportunity to be visually literate, to ‘read’ the pictures. For students who are not yet reading at the level of the book, they can still follow along and participate in the telling of a story or to guess what might happen next. This starts students on a path to tell their own stories. Start with two people doing something then take it one minute in time, what might happen? Make it funny, sad, happy, silly, scary. Draw it, write it, act it out.
Since this book is about a mother looking for her son, Freddy couldn’t be right out in the open because then mom could easily find him, so as the story/spread emphasizes switch between Freddy and his mom the secondary character is always hidden in the crowd. Something else to look for in the pictures. Why? Because this is a story about seeking out and finding… Freddy. Along with mom and Freddy there is also an additional character hidden. A seagull can be found on each spread. Why a seagull? In the end Freddy arrives at a pirate ride, with a pirate ticket taker. My query was, “Not having parrots in the Maritimes then what kind of bird would a Maritime pirate have instead of the parrot?”—answer: seagull.
On every spread there is a large ticket which has a ‘fun fact’ about the regatta. These can be used to go off onto tangents of thought or inquiry. For example “The Royal St. John’s Regatta is the oldest organized sporting event in North America.” So start asking questions—What other sporting events are that have been around for a long time? Do you have any big sporting events in your city? What about large annual events? Do you have any for your town, city, province, country? What are municipal holidays, provincial, federal? What different kind of holidays do we celebrate? and so on…. That does wander away from the book though and there are so many places the you can go within the book that it is wise to stay and look around awhile before you leave on a tangent. I would appreciate it greatly.
posted by HildaRose
by Sheree Fitch
This is a young adult novel written by Sheree Fitch. She has published many books for children and even infants. From her first book, Toes in My Nose, published in 1987 to Sleeping Dragons All Around published in 1989 followed by a book of poetry for children every year until Mable Murple (perhaps the favourite among youngsters) and a prolific career since, Fitch is becoming a well known and well loved Canadian author, The Gravesavers, published in 2005 was her first novel and was a winner of a CBC Young Canada Reads award. This novel, except for her book of poetry written for adults, In This House Are Many Women, marks a development from her work in children’s poetry.
The Gravesavers takes place in a fictitious seaside town called Boulder Basin, Nova Scotia. It is a story of a twelve year old girl named Minn Hotchkiss, who has come to spend the summer with her grandmother while her parents sort out some issues that they are having at home. Minn is not excited about the prospect of spending the summer with her grandmother. However, shortly after she arrives, she begins to explore the property and discovers a small skull of a human child on the beach. Minn is captivated by the mystery of what she has found and learns about a tragic shipwreck that occurred in the Maritimes before the Titanic.
I was given this novel as gift from a family friend one Christmas a few years ago. It is a wonderful novel that children ages 10 and beyond will love. It is a novel that enabled me to learn a little more about Nova Scotia history and about the love that families can have for one another.
As my first post I would like to share some information about an interesting author I came across in my search for Atlantic authors. His name is Bruce Nunn, AKA “Mr. Nova Scotia Know-It-All”. He is on CBC Radio’s Information Morning, and is the author of four books about Nova Scotia history. The particular book that I found was titled Buddy, the Bluenose reindeer. Bruce Nunn dreamed up the story of Buddy for a Christmas food-bank broadcast in 2004. The abstract is as follows:
Buddy, the Bluenose Reindeer, is a dear little deer from Nova Scotia. And just like Rudolph (they’re first cousins, once removed, on Buddy’s mother’s side), he has a very shiny nose. When the bright blue hue of Buddy’s shiny snout helps save a los fishing schooner, Santa Clause himself takes note!
Soon Santa, Buddy, and the other reindeer have a Christmas adventure all their own, as Buddy fills in for a sick Rudolph. But will Buddy – with his bluest of noses – be able o save Christmas?
Buddy the Bluenose reindeer is a funny, punny tale, rife with riffs on the traditional Rudolph song we all love. Kids young and old will love Buddy!
When you read to a child…
“When you read to a child, when you put a book in a child’s hands, you are bringing that child news of the infinitely varied nature of life. You are an awakener.”
“I suggest that if, in literature, we are given nothing to think about, to imagine, outside the external trappings of our own lives, we are likely to remain motionless and ignorant.”
These quotes by Paula Fox from her article Some thoughts on Imagination in Children’s Literature came to mind as I read the following two books by Children’s author’s Sheree Fitch and Catherine Simpson. Both books realistically depict the power of a child’s imagination to explore the rich world of fantasy that lives in every child’s mind.
The first book, Sleeping Dragons All Around, by Sheree Fitch is filled with beautifully rich images written in poetic form employing a variety of literary devices. The story takes place at night so the language is very emotive and the tone mysteries and quiet. It is written in the first person from the perspective of a little girl who has to tiptoe around at night to avoid waking the dragons that live in her house.
In Catherine Simpson’s book, A Viking Shop For Brendan, a young boys desire to meet a real Viking and have a ship of his own, fuels his imagination to go back in time when the Vikings did inhabit his home town of L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. By taking the everyday occurrence of a walk on the beach, where Brendan finds a small Viking ship, Simpson takes us on an adventure which leads to Brendan embarking on a Quest and having his wish fulfilled. I especially like the ending which leaves room for student questioning and wondering.
The opportunities for connections the teacher and students could make to poetry, history, critical thinking, and fantasy, descriptive and emotive language to set a tone are virtually endless. I hope you enjoy reading these wonderful books from two of Atlantic Canada’s own.
Writers in the Schools…
This year I feel very fortunate to be able to participate in the Writers in The Schools (WITS) program offered through the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS). I first heard of this organization while taking a course this summer titled Literacy in the Community. In early September the Writers’ Federation sent out an email to schools explaining how this program worked and what they were offering to the schools. I immediately jumped at the opportunity was pleased to find out that we were able to secure a local author to visit our school. For the WITS program the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia provides more than half of the actual cost of having the writer come to visit your school. There are over 60 participating writers with varying backgrounds and expertise. The application was straight forward, quick and easy; the difficult part was choosing the writer. There were so many to choose from, with varying experiences and expertise. Each writer has so much to offer. The funds for this program were exhausted immediately so we felt very fortunate to be one of the schools chosen to have a writer visit.
We are honoured to have Jacqueline Halsey come and visit our school. Originally from London, England Jacqueline currently resides in Beaverbank, Nova Scotia. She is planning to visit our school in early November for one full day and one half day visit, allowing her to visit with each grade from P-6. She has coauthored one book called The Terrible Horrible Smelly Pirate with Carrie Muller (another local author) in which she plans to share with our lower elementary students and another she has written called Peggy’s Letters in which she will share with our upper elementary students. I believe it is important for our kids to see that someone from their own community, province or region can become a professional writer. I think it will be exciting for them, I will keep you posted!
By becoming involved with this program my interest in local authors and illustrators has certainly been peaked. I was amazed at the number of local authors, especially the number of authors of children’s literature. I was a little ashamed that I was so unaware but certainly feel better now that I am working toward educating myself and becoming more knowledgeable. The idea behind “The Atlantic Den” is to help expand our own repertoire of local authors and share them with you as well. Our hope and belief is that you as well will have your own knowledge to share with us.
I currently teach Grade Two and I know my students are going to love The Terrible Horrible Smelly Pirate. Written with a pirate’s lingo, I am certain it will be a hit. It is light-hearted and fun. The terrible horrible smelly pirate and his parrot friend set out on an adventure for hidden treasure. The adventure takes place in the Halifax Harbour with mentions of the island of Big Thrumcap and the lighthouse on Deadman’s Beach. The language is entertaining and the illustrations are fantastic. It is a must read, young children will love it!!!
The Terrible Horrible Smelly Pirate is an Atlantic Awards Winner. It was awarded the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration. Eric Orchard is the illustrator. He grew up in Halifax and he currently resides here as well. He attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
Websites of interest:
Atlantic Book Awards: http://www.atlanticbookawards.ca/
Writers in the Schools: http://www.writers.ns.ca/wits/index.html
Along with the WITS program the Writers’ Federation has an extensive list of local Professional Writers some of which include writers of children’s literature.
Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia: http://www.writers.ns.ca/
Information about Jacqueline Halsey: http://www.writers.ns.ca/Writers/jhalsey.html http://www.orcabook.com/contributorinfo.cfm?ContribID=213
Jacqueline has also written, The Gran Plan which was published by Scholastic and is used as part of their Literacy Place for the Early Years, School Reading Program.