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WEST COAST RHYMES

Nelson, Jenny
Illustrated by April White Agincourt (Ont.), Gage Educational Publishing, 1992. 32pp, paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-7715-6954-8. (Dancing Sun Books). CIP


Grades 3 to 8/Ages 8 to 13

Reviewed by Maryleah Otto

Volume 21 Number 2
1993 March


Teacher Jenny Nelson lives and works in the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia. The seventeen short prose poems that make up this little book reveal the author's intimate knowledge of and her sensitivity to the complex environment of this wilderness frontier. She writes about people, animals, birds, trees, flowers, fish, the sea and Haida customs. Her imagery is original and very beautiful. This poem is called "Moonwalking":

This moon is made for walking,
moonwalking by the sea

If I had cloth
of mooncloud gold.
I'd sail the starry sky.
If I had sails
of mooncloud cloud
and stardust on my feet
I'd set my sails
down cloud-swept trails
to see what I could see.

And then perhaps
I'd turn and tack
Only just perhaps
Sail back
and back
To tell
the tale
To thee.

April White's paintings are really superb. They are themselves poems. Most of them are done against a wash of pale grey-green to evoke the colour of the sea and forest. I've visited the Queen Charlottes myself and when I saw White's pictures of the beaches, islands, giant cedars, totem poles and ravens, I could easily imagine being there again.

This small but lovely work could enhance studies in the history of Canada's Native people as well as classes in creative writing. While younger students in grade 3 will enjoy hearing the poems read to them, older ones up to grade 8 will appreciate the book by themselves.


Maryleah Otto is a librarian in St. Thomas, Ontario, and author of four published books for children
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