Terrier the star in Nelson’s latest
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/08/2020 (1029 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Local author Colleen Nelson found plenty of dog-loving fans for last year’s middle-grade novel Harvey Comes Home. She follows it up with Harvey Holds His Own (Pajama Press, 224 pages, $23, hardcover) with more adventures for this loyal little terrier.
When Harvey’s owner Maggie decides to volunteer at Braeside Retirement Villa, despite memories of Harvey’s connections there while he was missing, she doesn’t expect to make a close connection to one of its residents. But when Harvey has a dangerous encounter with an angry raccoon, Maggie’s friendship with an unusual woman helps save his life.
Readers will also be glad that Austin, the boy who found Harvey in the first book, gets easier treatment here. But Harvey is the star: a lovable, brave and resourceful little dog. Aimed at readers eight to 12.
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If you were invited to visit Paris to see the former home of one of its most famous artists, would you go?
Of course, but if you can’t go in person perhaps you can visit it in A Portrait in Poems: the Storied Life of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, by Wisconsin writer Evie Robillard (Kids Can Press, 48 pages, $20, hardcover).
In the early 1900s, Stein was one of the most sought-after hostesses in Paris. She and her partner Toklas filled their apartment with paintings by such famous artists as Henri Matisse and Paul Cézanne. Pablo Picasso was a frequent visitor, and spent months painting a portrait of Stein.
Robillard tells the pair’s stories in a series of poems written in blank verse. Many are taken from Stein’s own works, like this one, which complements her famous saying about a rose: “I am Rose my eyes are blue/ I am Rose and who are you/ I am Rose and when I sing/ I am Rose like anything.”
With additional information about Stein and Toklas and numerous naive illustrations in gouache and coloured pencil by Rachel Katstalller, this is aimed at artistic-minded youngsters from ages six to nine.
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Australian author Peter Carnavas has written an imaginative, sensitive book for young children experiencing loss in The Elephant (Pajama Press, 176 pages, $20, hardcover).
Olive’s mother died when she was only a year old, and since then her father has fallen into a deep depression, a mood so overwhelming Olive imagines he has a huge elephant pressing him down. Luckily she has a loving grandfather caring for her, but when she falls out of a tree and he blames himself, she sees another phantom creature attached to her grandpa: a giant tortoise.
It takes a good friend and some creative thinking to find ways to banish the hostile apparitions. This is a gentle story that could help a child deal with a parent’s grief and apparent neglect while also emphasizing the power of a young person’s own ability to overcome tragedy. For ages nine to 12.
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Corner stores are an endangered species today. Veteran Vancouver poet and author Robert Heidbreder recalls the important place they used to play in our lives in Our Corner Store (Groundwood, 64 pages, $17, hardcover).
Written as a series of poems, Heidbreder tells a nostalgic tale of the friendship between two children, the shopkeeper, his wife and their cat, Toby. Visiting the shop on their own, the pair learn lessons of loyalty, honesty and frugality. It’s a tribute to a time when children were “free to roam, with not just one but many a home.”
Our Corner Store is a sequel to Heidbreder’s 2018 book Rooster Summer, but easily stands on its own. It will bring back memories of pre-shopping-mall days for many adults, while its poems will appeal to young readers ages six to nine.
Helen Norrie is a Winnipeg writer who likes corner stores and lives on an island in summer called Elephant Island.
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