May 23, 2017

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Books

Shields screenplay gets comic treatment

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/7/2016 (311 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Carol Shields is not normally associated with graphic novels, but this new version of the screenplay she wrote with Patrick Crowe, Susanna Moodie: Roughing it in the Bush, adapted by Willow Dawson with illustrations by Selena Gouldin (Second Story Press, 152 pages, $23, paperback), may introduce Shields as well as Susanna Moodie to a whole new audience.

Shields was fascinated by the life of this early Canadian pioneer woman, who left a privileged life in England to fight for survival in the back woods of Upper Canada in the 1830s. Besides using Moodie’s story for her master’s thesis, she incorporated parts of her life into two of her novels. Crowe has taken the work they wrote together, working with Dawson and Goulding to produce this attractive version for juvenile readers.

Goulding’s all-colour artwork is particularly striking, making this amazing story all the more real. From black flies and cougars to fire and flood, Susannah battled all the hazards of her environment and even found time to write about it.

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Elliot hates change. When his parents ship him off to Nova Scotia for the summer, he’s convinced he’ll hate it. But he hasn’t counted on good changes: handling lobster, jigging for cod and meeting new friends. Sea Change by Toronto author and artist Frank Viva (Tundra Books, 120 pages, $22, hardcover) is an appealing story with fascinating illustrations built into the text.

Viva uses his skills as an award-winning illustrator and designer to show emotion in the artwork that wraps through and around his story. A good choice for a first chapter book for young readers. Written for readers age 8-12.

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Two authors do not usually double the worth of a book, but Texan Kathi Appelt and Minneapolis native Allison McGhee have teamed up to produce an excellent juvenile novel in Maybe a Fox (Atheneum Books, 262 pages, $23, hardcover).

With a mixture of fact and fantasy Appelt and McGhee describe Jules’ heartbreak when she loses her adored elder sister, only months after losing her mother. But how is Jules somehow linked to Senna, a small fox cub who lives in the nearby wood that Jules is forbidden to enter? Can Senna help her solve the mystery of what happened to her sister?

With poignant scenes between Jules and her grieving father and sensitive depictions of the life of the young fox, this is a memorable story that will appeal to young readers, especially animal lovers.

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Youngest readers who are tired of dressing up as princesses will enjoy Leah’s Mustache Party, a picture book by Nunavut educator Nadia Mike with illustrations by Charlene Chua (Inhabit Media, 32 pages, $17, hardcover).

Leah loves pirates. But after Halloween she doesn’t have a chance to dress up as her favourite character — until she decides to have a mustache birthday party. With mustache-shaped invitations and mustaches on everything from the cake and balloons to each one of the guests, her party is a success that pleases all the hearties. Mike shows how much fun can be had with a few simple props and a bit of imagination.

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Who doesn’t enjoy riddles? U.K. author Kevin Crossley-Holland’s picture book The Riddlemaster (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 32 pages, $19, hardcover) should be a favourite with early readers age 4-7.

Anouk, Ben and Cara know there is treasure buried on the island across the bay, but can only reach it by solving a series of riddles. As they succeed with each one they approach their prize, but also the fierce beasts on the island. Marvellous watercolour illustrations by Montreal artist Stéphane Jorisch add humour and suspense to the text.

Winnipeg author Helen Norrie enjoys riddles — and also good children’s books.

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