Quill and Quire

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The Colours of My Home: A Portrait of Newfoundland & Labrador

by Susan Pynn; Nancy Keating, illus.

Two Newfoundland sisters, Susan Pynn and Nancy Keating, have put together a pleasant book celebrating their home province. The Colours of My Home takes the reader on a colour-coded tour of Newfoundland and Labrador, highlighting some of the unique features of the cuisine (bakeapples, partridgeberries, and fried toutons) and flora and fauna (pitcher plants, sea urchins, moose, and black labs).

Pynn’s and Keating’s images evoke the daily sights of the area – the striking bleakness of the landscape, the chatty coziness of the domestic spaces, and the comfortable, old-fashioned tempo of life in the fishing outports. Keating gets it right, down to details such as the beach stone decorated with a painted puffin that adorns the grandma’s living room, and the gaudy curtains and tablecloth that brighten the kitchen.

Pynn has some skill with rhyme, capturing something of the local cadence, and her verse always scans, a rarity among children’s books today: “It’s fog that shrouds the windswept shore/And driftwood art where dories moor/It’s granite grey of dappled rocks/And clotheslines hung with homespun socks.” Sure, it’s sentimental, even purple at times (“It’s diamond dew and glittering lights/On breathless, magic, starlit nights”), but this too is authentic. Newfoundlanders rival even British Columbians in the love and loyalty they tender for their province, and will wax lyrical about it given the opportunity.

The gushiness won’t bother little children, who, whether they’re from Newfoundland or Alberta, will delight in the full, bright, nostalgic pictures rendered in pencil crayon, while they learn about colours and seasons.