Although none of these four books is specifically about Easter, all of them abound in joy.
And joy is supposed to characterize the 50-day Easter season.
Two of these books are for the children, two for older children, teenagers to you.
All originate in St. John’s, which sometimes seems Canada’s capital for good books for young and old. Their names are: Pirate Cran Goes for Gold by Geraldine Durrant, illustrated by Rose Forshall (Breakwater Books, $12.95); The Wonderful Dogfish Rachet by Tom Dawe, illustrated by C. Anne MacLeod (Pennywell Books, Flanker Press, $19.95); Buried Truths by Alice Walsh, no illustrations (Tuckamore Books, Creative Book Publishing, $11.95); and Amelia and Me by Heather Stemp (Pennywell, Flanker, $17.95).
For the youngest — though not the baby, try Pirate Gran. The second (or third) in its series, it tells how Gran wants to win some event at the Olympics, and how she and her crew train. But, in the end, “... Gran says the most important thing isn’t winning, it’s taking part and having fun.” Originating in Britain, the stories about Gran have been successfully exported to Newfoundland — and beyond.
A true event from the ‘30s, The Wonderful Dogfish Racket is a longish cheerful poem by a famous Newfoundland writer and a well-known illustrator of children’s books. Suddenly the peaceful waters of Crosshanded Cove are invaded by dogfish, a species of small shark which eats all other edible fish.
What the people of Crosshanded Cove and what finally stops this plague is the story. And C. Anne MacLeod’s wild and graphic illustrations act it out before our eyes. Addictive. Not for the squeamish or the genteel.
Although Alice Walsh is a popular writer who has written many good books for almost all ages, we cannot recommend Buried Truths. Simply it’s too stressful throughout. The more peaceful episodes, such as the scene in the restaurant, the finding of the goudge (chisel) made by a Maritime Archaic Indian, and the final party still are not truly peaceful. And the stresses are of all kinds, including that one’s father who’s supposed to have drowned long ago is alive and well, and anxious to meet his daughter whom he thought had been aborted. None of this is light reading for persons of any age. Perhaps it’s meant to prepare the reader for adult life.
Walsh is a good writer, her characters are believable, and her plots are well constructed, but... read at your own risk. “Amelia and Me” is much better book. Based on a true story, it tells of a Ginny girl in the small town of Harbour Grace who desperately wants to become a pilot, at a time when most people thought this was for men only. Then Amelia Earhart arrives there with her plane, and finally Ginny’s prospects brighten. It’s a positive story, despite plenty of stress, including the effects of the Depression, lots of joy and reconciliation at the end. Happy Easter to all. 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 her new address: 95 Orange St., Apt. 101, Saint John N.B., E2L 1M5, or call her at 506-693-5498.