Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Reader's Diary #2010- Shauntay Grant (writer), Eva Campbell (illustrator): Africville

I have a bit of an unfair aversion to serious/sentimental children's picture books. Way back during my teacher training I had a children's lit prof who poo-pooed all the fun, silly children's books I liked as a kid in favour of those with heartwarming messages and watercolours. I've finally come to accept that there's room for both kinds of books but I still have a residual resistance to the latter, the stuff that I know she would have liked.

Africville, I imagine, would have been more of her scene. The art is realistic and rich (I'd guess oil pastels, but I'm not sure) and the grain of the canvas showing through adds an additional heftiness. Text-wise, it's a bit of a non-rhyming poem, with just a few lines on each page loosely telling a story of a child visiting Africville and having fun.

There are end notes, however, that better explain the context. Without those, I'm not sure I'd have appreciated the book the same and that makes me a little more skeptical that the book works all that well. But maybe everyone who picks it up would be likely to read the notes. In which case, it's a fascinating and important part of Canadian history and culture that more people should be aware of.

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