It is good from time to time to review or read a book that fits no usual category.
Such is the case with the three books reviewed today. One tells of a four-year sojourn on a reservation in northern Ontario, one is of three babies and their adopted parents and the third outlines the lives of two 19th-century giants.
Year of the Babies! is by Anne VanDonkersgoed (privately printed, price not given).
It’s divided into two parts. In the first, Anne and her husband, Ed, want children but the seven babies Anne conceives all miscarry.
Social workers and others tell them they are “unfit” to adopt.
Twenty-two years after their wedding, they were able to become foster parents and then to adopt. Nearly two years later, they adopted a second little girl with a congenital heart disease and, less than a year later, the latter’s newborn sister.
The second part of the book tells how Sarah Anne (the third baby) developed cancer at about five weeks and how she recovered.
This book is a well-told narrative which will touch many readers; it is also a good Christian story and is highly recommended.
The other two books are good, but more conventional. The Extraordinary Life of Anna Swan by Anne Renaud (Cape Breton University Press, $14.95) briefly tells the story of the Nova Scotia giantess — she stood just under eight feet tall — and her giant husband, Martin Van Buren Bates, who was somewhat shorter.
There are many contemporary illustrations. The book seems to be intended for teenage readers — the vocabulary in the back suggests this — but it is suitable for anyone who wishes to know something of Swan.
Goodbyes Along the Way by Nathanael Reed (Penumbra Press, $19.95) is subtitled The People And Stories of Mattagami First Nation. It’s a look back at life in a remote village in northeastern Ontario between 1960 and 1964, when the author and his family lived there; his father was the only teacher in the one-room school, while Nathanael was 10 years old.
This book could well have been longer; what it contains seems more like samples of different types of narrative — sketches of some of the elders, fun and games with the other boys, and memorable events such as getting a sick child to hospital via bush plane after first having to shovel four inches of slush off part of the nearby lake to make a runway.
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.