________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 3. . . .September 26, 2008

cover

Up Home.

Shauntay Grant. Illustrated by Susan Tooke.
Halifax, NS: Nimbus, 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55109-660-5.

Subject Headings:
Preston (N.S.)-Poetry.
Blacks-Nova Scotia-Preston-Poetry.

Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.

Review by Todd Kyle.

**** /4

   

excerpt:

I remember Nana's stories
about Maroons, Loyalists & Refugees
learnin' about my history
and about a people who worked hard
day and night
raising families
and surviving the barren lands of North Preston
and I remember hearin' about lakes freezin' over
blueberries
mayflowers
roseberries
car top sleds green apples
fried potatoes & baloney
corned beef and cabbage
molasses & bread hittin' ball
drinkin' brooks
big church meetings out in Cherry Brook
baptisms in the lake

 

Up Home is an absolute treasure. Shauntay Grant, a native of the Preston Townships, a very historical Black community in Nova Scotia, talks in beautiful free-form verse about her childhood and heritage. With just the right hints of rhythm, warmth, dialect, and geographic and cultural touchstones, the poem subtly weaves the right feeling for the way she understands her own history. The text ends aptly with a note on the history of Preston and the three waves of Black immigrants that made it their home, making it an important contribution to the Black History tapestry of Canada.

internal art

     But it is the illustrations' colourful, emotive, mostly double-page spreads done in oil that make this book a masterpiece. Susan Tooke manages to make every face full of feeling, every detail filled with meaning. The sequence of images has a satisfying completeness to it, going full circle from Shauntay beginning her reminiscing as she hangs laundry, to images from her childhood, back to her as an adult, holding hands with her mother against a backdrop of the land. Each painting is a slice of life, mostly realistic in its striking details - Shauntay's upturned Freezie hanging from her mouth, blueberries on the ground in various hues of ripeness, the wide eyes of the children's choir looking one way (probably at the choir leader) while the youngest child looks at the reader! A treat.

Highly Recommended

Todd Kyle is a former President of the Canadian Association of Children's Librarians who is currently a branch manager in Mississauga, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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