Thursday, January 30, 2014

Three books from Annick Press

A couple of days ago I received three children's books from Annick Press ( They are:

What Can You Do With Only One Shoe?: Reuse, Recycle, Reinvent,
(Paperback $9.95 ISBN: 978-1-55451-642-1)
Written by Simon and Sheryl Shapiro
Illustrated by Francis Blake

The Nutmeg Princess (Paperback $9.95 ISBN: 978-1-55451-599-8)
Written by Richardo Keens-Douglas
Illustrated by Annouchka Galouchko


Not My Girl (Paperback $9.95 ISBN: 978-1-55451-624-7)
Written by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

Not My Girl is the fourth book by Margaret Pokiak Fenton about being separated, as a young Inuit child, from her home and family, to attend a residential school. The others are Fatty Legs, A Stranger at Home, and When I Was Eight (Margaret's story adapted for a younger audience.) Not My Girl is a sequel to When I Was Eight.

Pokiak-Fenton's books are an important contribution to the discussion of the harm done to aboriginal people by the residential school system. Not My Girl shows Margaret, at ten, returning home to the Arctic and being greeted with her mother's angry reaction, "Not my girl!" Margaret looks different than when she left two years earlier and has also forgotten her language, customs and traditional foods. Gradually Margaret relearns the old ways, with the support of her father, and in the end, develops a skill that reconciles her with her mother.

The illustrations in Not My Girl are gorgeous, and so are those by Annouchka Galouchko in The Nutmeg Princess:A modern fable from the Isle of Spice. First published in 1992, this is a new edition of Richardo Keens-Douglas's fable about friendship and unselfishness set in Grenada. Aglo and Petal are two young friends who are fascinated by Petite Mama, an eccentric older woman who lives up on a mountain, gardening. Petite Mama is the only person to have seen the legendary Nutmeg Princess, a beautiful girl who sits on a raft in the middle of the lake, humming her song.  An adventure and a rescue follow, along with a vision of the princess, who seems somehow to be one with  Petite Mama, and who says, "If you believe in yourself all things are possible."

Not My Girl and The Nutmeg Princess are written for kids ages 6 to 9. What Can You Do With Only One Shoe is supposed to be for readers 5 to 8, but to my mind, it's a book for grownups. The subtitle is "Don't throw it out! Reinvent it!" but only two of them, the old shoe planter and the jean purse, are within the capabilities of children of that age range. The book shows clever ways that adults (including many professional artists) have turned trash into treasure, such as Frank Hoppe's "Car bed from the V8 Hotel" and the guitar which looks as if it has been made from two tuna cans, "Repurposed Guitar" courtesy of Landfill Harmonic.

An adult handyman could have fun making a seat from half of a boat, or a planter out of an old toilet, but some of the suggestions seem potentially dangerous for children, such as the "Garden Fork Folding Table" by Natalie Sampson. The "Repurposed Ambulance", made into a play shelter in a playground, looks amusing and functional, but might encourage five to eight year olds to play in any old car. The poems by authors Simon and Sheryl Shapiro are clever, but the book should be marketed as an amusing book for "kids of all ages."

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