Here’s a few books for smaller people

Elizabeth Cran
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These six books, respectively from Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Maine and Nova Scotia, are for children ranging from those not yet able to read, going up as far as Grades 3-4 or even indefinitely.

What could be better for late-summer reading? And no trace of school in any of them.

Starting with Gus the Tortoise Takes a Walk by Erin Arsenault, illustrated by Richard Rudnicki (Nimbus, $18.95), this is basically a true story. Gus is 90 years old, the oldest living gopher tortoise, lives at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax.

One day, during a move, Gus walks away into downtown Halifax —and the story takes off from there.

It's recommended for the story, which is excellent.

Driftwood Dragons by Tyne Brown, with illustrations by Tamara Thiebaux-Heikalo (Nimbus, $12.95), is a fine poetry collection, reminiscent of A Child's Garden of Verses. The poems are imaginative, perceptive, sometimes mystical. And the watercolours are a delight. It's unreservedly recommended.

My Mother is Weird by Rachna Gilmore, illustrated by Brenda Jones (Acorn Press, $9.95) was first published by Ragweed Press (ancestor of Acorn Press) in 1988, and is as good as new. Mothers are still weird in the morning before having coffee or when they've been up six times in the night with baby brother.

It's one of those books one wishes would go on and on or become a series. Further praise is unnecessary.

Find Scruncheon and Touton all around Newfoundland is not a reading book, but a puzzle book.

Scruncheon and Touton are respectively a Newfoundland dog and Golden Lab. They turn up in all sorts of places, such as the fishing museum, nanny's attic and the flea market, together with a long list of things at each place which you have to find. It's irresistible fun for young and old and is published by Creative Book Publishing, St. John's, at $10.95.

Grandma features in two quite different books: Pirate Gran by Geraldine Durrant with pictures by Rose Forshell (Breakwater Books, $12.95), and Grandma Drove the Lobster Boat) by Katie Clark, illustrated by Amy Huntingdon (Down East, U.S. $16.95).

Gran has more or less retired from pirating, but she still wears her "old pirate hat round the house" and keeps a not-quite-tame crocodile around the house. She thinks pirating's "a career more girls should think about." It's a good book; maybe it will inspire some girls . . . .

In the second book, on Grandma's day off, somewhere off the coast of Maine, she goes collecting lobsters for the Labour Day lobster bake. However when it's time to turn for home, a storm is coming up and none of Grandma's three sons is up to driving the boat.

So what happens? Grandma's already driven the garbage truck and the snowplow in two previous adventures, so, helped by her littlest grandson, Billy (because she doesn't see too well), she gets them all home safely.

All together these stories would make a perfect library for some child, a true example of co-operation across the border at its best. And it's a reminder to all of us not to take life so seriously.

Elizabeth Cran is a freelance writer who writes a book review column for The Guardian. To comment or to send her books to review, write her at 111 Sydney St., Apt. 17, Saint John, N.B., E2L 2L8, or call her at 506-693-5498.

Organizations: Acorn Press, Museum of Natural History, Ragweed Press Golden Lab Creative Book Publishing The Guardian

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Maine, Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia Halifax St. John's U.S. Saint John

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