CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 22 . . . . February 10, 2012
The Jelly Bean Row recounts the story of how a colourful, historic row of houses in downtown St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, may have acquired its name. Each of the houses on this street is painted a bright primary or secondary colour, which the author and illustrator liken to the colour of traditional jelly beans. The tale is told through the perspective of an elderly female, Missus Codger, who becomes annoyed with her young, rowdy neighbours. In an attempt to gain peace and quiet, Missus Codger confronts the young lads, without positive results. Still angry, she throws brightly coloured jam and apples at her neighbours' fence, accidentally making contact with one of the young boys. The ensuing food fight eventually involves the entire neighbourhood. After the CBC, the mayor, and the premier become involved, Missus Codger and her neighbours realize the extent of the mess they have created. The neighbourhood becomes peaceful, once again, as neighbours help each other paint their houses bright colours in order to remind themselves of "the row that made the evening news."
While the author uses meter and rhyme to enhance the text, the flow, at times, lags. Many regional words and expressions are utilized, which tend to act as stop words for readers unfamiliar with the terms, and which detract from the overall content - examples being "saltbox," "R.N.C.," and the proper noun "Livyer." The text reveals itself as having a regional focus, which limits its desirability to readers west of Atlantic Canada. Even references to Canadian-wide institutions and personalities, such as the CBC and Rex Murphy, are done in the context of Atlantic Canada. The regional references may, however, be of interest to displaced Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in provinces such as Alberta.
The book redeems itself in its captivating illustrations which, as one would expect with a book of this name and subject, are colourful. The reader could spend a significant amount of time examining the detail of each page. Expressions on humans and animals enhance the text and will be sure to cause smiles among adult readers and interest among preschoolers.
Highly recommended for public and school libraries in Atlantic Canadian provinces; recommended for large public libraries in other provinces.
Roxy Garstad is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.
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other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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.