Book Reviews: August

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Over by The Harbour
Written by Dwayne LeFitte
Illustrated by Thérèse Cilia

Every once and awhile a kid’s book creeps up and leaves you in awe.  It smacks you right in the face with a reminder of how your brain functioned during childhood. You have to think to yourself, how can someone appeal to children in such a beautiful way and still peak their interest? Don’t ask any questions, but rather sit back and enjoy the ride and pick up Over the Harbour, a Newfoundland twist of Over the Meadow rhyme. As the story counts up to ten, the reader meets many island creatures, while getting to know their families and homes.

Usually when children’s books attempt to rhyme, it’s forced and obvious. However, Over the Harbour is poetic. It flows from word to word easily and still keeps the attention of a child.
Paired with beautiful watercoloured sceneries and families of native creatures, the words and pictures combine for an insightful and enjoyable cultural journey across the province.

Good-and-Beautiful-BayThe Good and Beautiful Bay
By Anthony Berger

Small town Newfoundland is truly what makes this province, but where did they all come from? How were they originally established? The Good and Beautiful Bay is the history of Bonne Bay pre-confederation. This town has more history than it has ever been given credit. It’s an integral part of Newfoundland history and Berger writes it well. Rather than being bogged down in boring detail, as one would suspect from a historical analysis, Berger makes this travel through time extremely interesting. In fact, the reader is digesting interesting facts about this beautiful place without even realizing it.

The story of Bonne Bay reminds us of how far we have come and how we got to where we are today- including how Gros Morne Park came to be.

Norma-Gladys1Norma and Gladys: Newfoundland’s Famous Knockabout Schooner
By Garry Cranford

In 1994 Garry Cranford was looking for a publisher for his well thought out book, Norma and Gladys. When he never got any bites, he decided to publish it himself under the company name Flanker Press. Flanker Press is now a local household name on the rock- an integral part of the island’s history. The publisher mostly focuses on regional non-fiction and historical novels.

Norma and Gladys-a Newfoundland schooner,  revolves around Newfoundland and Labrador’s shipping industry and the Labrador and Grand Bank fishery, amongst other notary moments in the province’s shipbuilding timeline. One of the most interesting parts that may intrigue all types of readers is the focus on partisan politics.  This knockabout schooner was famous in Newfoundland history- refitted as a museum, being involved in a mutiny and a possible ghost. The story is well written and appeals to all readers- historians or not. A small schooner that is a vivid part of this province’s background, Norma and Gladys: Newfoundland’s Famous Knockabout Schooner is well worth the read.

Grace-SparksGrace Sparkes: Blazing a trail to Independence
By Marie-Beth Wright

The story of Grace Sparkes truly makes a feminist Newfoundlander proud. Scratch that. She makes the whole province fill with tears of pride. Getting to know her has been a personal pleasure even if our paths never crossed. Wright brought me into this woman’s life, and I will never look back.

She beat the odds when everything at that moment was against her. She made a name for women in this province. She got a degree in Biology, attended medical school for a year, attended Memorial University for teaching- this was in the 1920s for crying aloud. That’s so unbelievably impressive for that time. When she moved to St. John’s she became passionate about politics, especially for responsible government in opposition to Confederation. In 1949 she agreed to be a candidate for the Progressive Conservative party in the Burin District.

She taught, she was a reporter for the Daily News, she started the first school-girl curling team. Sparkes has too many honours to name and the list goes on and on. For a inspirational story with uplifting and emotional realities- pick up Wright’s book. Grace Sparkes should be an recognized name for all islanders.

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