CM . . .
. Volume X Number 2. . . .September 13, 2013
Frustrated over the constant poor weather in his province of Newfoundland, Yaffle, a seagull, declares he will escape to a warmer climate. But when a forlorn Yaffle realizes he will have to leave friends and familiar places behind, he comes up with the ingenious idea of taking it all with him. Why he'll just "drag Newfoundland to sunny warmer sands."
The determined and ambitious Yaffle succeeds in having this land breakaway, only to find he brought the same weather with him. He becomes aware that "some things are meant to be", and he decides to bring everything back to where it belongs, since weather is just one of the things that makes this unique area home.
Yaffle's Journey is told in delightful rhyming text and is accompanied by bold, colourful and detailed illustrations created in coloured pencils. The many animals, sea creatures and items are drawn with humour and creativity, and this sets the tone for this lighthearted and warm story. There are seagulls wearing horned rimmed glasses, toques, and kerchiefs; there is a rat with an umbrella and birds with shawls. Yaffle is depicted in a bright yellow rain slicker, with fish sticking out of his pockets. There are several scenes of humans, showing the changes of weather, but they are not nearly as charming as the animals. Little details will enchant those who take the time to look closely. The details include a "Welkum" sign, a mouse with a crayon drawing his feelings of the weather, a backpack with NFLD and a Canadian flag on it, and a squirrel with a Rubic Cube. These details provide opportunities for encouraging readers to be observant.
A search on the talented mother/daughter team that created Yaffle's Journey led this reviewer to the discovery of the inspiration and background for a charming tale. The summer of 2011 turned out to be the worst weather for Newfoundlanders in a very long time. Average temperatures for the month of June were around 9 degrees C. with rain being recorded for 26 days out of 30 in the St. John's region. In addition, fog in this area appeared in 27 days for this same month. The Keatings used this dreary summer weather as an inspiration for creating a story about the unusual weather pattern and how it affected the inhabitants of Newfoundland as seen through the eyes of assorted animals.
Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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