The Year in Books: 2007

Our annual review of new books by local authors and illustrators In The Hills.

November 15, 2007 | | Back Issues

This year our annual survey of books by local authors and illustrators offers a thoroughly satisfying feast of holiday reading. And that feast is deliciously spiced with the inclusion of two books shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Awards. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by Hugh Brewster is a finalist for the children’s literature award and Joanne Fitzgerald’s engaging artwork has put The Blue Hippopotamus on the shortlist for the children’s illustration award. The winners will be announced November 27th. We’re rooting for the home team!

At Vimy Ridge

Canada’s Greatest World
War I Victory

by Hugh Brewster

Rich with illustrations, photographs and maps, At Vimy Ridge is a concise and compelling overview of Canada’s greatest World War I victory. Beginning when war fever breaks out in 1914 and eager Canadians enlist to serve Britain, this pictorial journey follows Canadian soldiers to their ultimate battle at Vimy Ridge in 1917. Graphic descriptions of trench life, poison gas attacks and trench raids combine with facts and figures to provide a powerful, easy-to-navigate historical narrative, suitable for young teens and older. “In remembering the stories of those young men who faced death on that long-ago Easter Monday, what Canadian is not moved by their bravery and sacrifice?” (Scholastic Canada, $10.99)

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

The Story of a Painting

by Hugh Brewster

“I hate Polly, and I hate Dolly. Now they’re here I’m not very jolly,” says five-year-old Kate Millet when two older, more patient friends replace her as models for John Singer Sargent’s painting. As Sargent works in her family’s garden, Kate recovers from this insult and eventually reconciles with the artist. Viewed through Kate’s eyes, this charming fictionalized account follows the American painter’s two-year process to create his famous painting of two young girls lighting Chinese paper lanterns.

Kate is finally rewarded with a parting gift: “It was my portrait – and it looked just like me!” Aided by archival photographs, correspondence and rich reproductions of Sargent’s paintings and sketches, Brewster effectively recreates England’s thriving late-Victorian artistic community – and earns himself a nomination for a Governor General’s Award for children’s literature. (Kids Can Press, $19.95)

Polenta at Midnight

Tales of Gusto and Enchantment in North York

by Glenn Carley

With its multiple acts, arias, intermissions and final curtain calls, Glenn Carley’s memoir of life with his Italian in-laws transports readers through the most satisfying of dramas – just like a great opera. Red peppers are roasted, a new language is embraced (and fractured), and bottle after bottle of wine is drunk as Glenn is slowly accepted and shown the old ways by his father-in law, “Garibaldi.” On a trip to Italy, and then again in the unlikely setting of Garibaldi’s backyard garden in North York, he glimpses “The Divine System…the Fractal Geometry of Life,” which reveals even bigger mysteries, such as love, wealth of spirit and contentment.

Bolton resident and social worker Glenn Carley has created a delightfully funny and poignant look at how he, The Inglese, forced his way through the cultural barrier (with a fair bit of flailing and telling of bad jokes) and was, by far, the richer for it. (Véhicule Press, $19.95)

The Summer of the Marco Polo

illustrated by Kasia Charko

Adapted from the journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, author Lynn Manuel recreates the story of how a famous clipper ship ran aground on the coast of Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, in 1883. Through the voice of eight-year-old “Miss Maud,” the adventure of the rescued sailors and her friendship with Captain Bull is told with the flair and affinity for high drama one would expect from the imagination that later gave birth to the spirited Anne Shirley of Green Gables.

Alton illustrator Kasia Charko perfectly captures the red earth and lush greenery of P.E.I. in her soft and detailed watercolour and coloured pencil illustrations. Lynn Manuel and Kasia Charko previously collaborated on the children’s book, Camels Always Do. (Orca Book Publishers, $19.95)

Beyond the Veil

A Reference for the Spiritual Path

by Lillian Yee-Stewart

Too many people drift through life with their eyes half shut, so focussed on the mundane they can’t see anything bigger than themselves. For Lillian Yee-Stewart, a series of painful changes in her life fully opened her eyes; and by allowing herself to learn from the wisdom of others, she was able to embrace the creative and spiritual mysteries of the world around her. Included are interviews with fifteen people she considers spiritual teachers – from a Tibetan Buddhist yogini to a Presbyterian minister to a native poet, who survived the residential school system. Beyond the Veil is Lillian’s story, but also a guide to opening your own life to a more beautiful world.

Lillian Yee-Stewart lives in Caledon East. She is an educator, speaker and writer. (Lillian Yee-Stewart, $23.95)

Sisters in Two Worlds

compiled and edited by
Hugh Brewster

This stunning visual biography of two of Canada’s best-known female pioneer writers, Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill, weaves historical information with 200 images, paintings, letters and family artifacts to produce a tapestry of early Canadian life. Leaving their pampered childhood in the Suffolk countryside, the sisters travel across the Atlantic in 1821 and struggle to survive the hardships of Upper Canada’s backwoods. Supported with excerpts from the sisters’ own writing, Michael Peterman’s knowledgeable text portrays their financial, political, religious, and often emotional journey, struggling through poor health and the birth of sixteen children, to become respected literary figures. Ian Brewster’s photographs of historical locations and artifacts bring a crisp reality to the sisters’ story. (Doubleday Canada, $45)

Pan American Clippers

The Golden Age of Flying Boats

by James Trautman

In the 1920s and early ’30s, nothing announced a person’s wealth to the world like a trip to an exotic South American locale in a Pan Am Clipper. Unlike the sardine tins we call airplanes today, these luxury yachts-with-wings boasted teak interiors, plush couches and sleeping compartments, and haute cuisine served on fine china. The only class on a Clipper was first class.

Orton writer James Trautman has produced a fascinating history that describes how a humble WWI seaplane transformed communication (with the introduction of airmail) and commercial travel. Hundreds of photos, advertisements and archival documents illustrate an exciting era and the people – including the Lindberghs, the Guggenheims, the Rockefellers and Juan Trippe, the man who turned Pan American Airlines into an empire – who, through their passion for aviation, changed our world. (Boston Mills Press, $49.95)

The Blue Hippopotamus and Yum! Yum!!

Illustrated by Joanne Fitzgerald

Two wonderful new children’s books are added to illustrator Joanne Fitzgerald’s growing collection of work. And the nomination of The Blue Hippopotamus for a Governor General’s Award for illustration may add the second such award to Fitzgerald’s trophy shelf.

The book’s author, Phoebe Gilman, tells the enchanting tale of a young hippo who falls in love with the Pharaoh’s daughter. The story unfolds into a gentle lesson of unselfish love with an ending sure to melt even the hardest heart.

Yum! Yum!! follows little piggy as he goes to market – and not just any market, but Orangeville’s Farmers’ Market! – in this delightful compilation of food-based nursery rhymes. The Orangeville Opera House is the hub of activity as pigs and mice, skunks and porcupines buy and sell their wares in preparation for the big party.

Joanne Fitzgerald’s warm, playful illustrations effortlessly translate from the vibrant palette of the sun-baked shores of the Nile to a soft summer day in downtown Orangeville.

Fitzgerald divides her time between homes in Orton and New York City.

(Yum! Yum!!: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, $19.95. The Blue Hippopotamus: North Winds Press, $19.99)

Hanna Bear’s Christmas

illustrated by Sean Cassidy

Hanna Bear doesn’t mind sleeping the winter away – after all, that’s what bears do – but just this once she’d like to see Christmas. Having promised to wake her, her friends grouse, goat, moose and rabbit quickly realize it will take all their noise-making talents to stir the hibernating Hanna.

Alaskan author Monica Devine’s story of the far north is brought to life by Sean Cassidy, whose detailed and emotionally rendered illustrations make this a stunning book from cover to cover. An instant classic, Hanna Bear’s Christmas begs to be read aloud, preferably to sleepy, eggnog- and gingerbread-filled children on a snowy Christmas Eve.

Orangeville’s Sean Cassidy is an award-winning illustrator. His previous books include The Chicken Cat and Wake up, Henry Rooster! (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, $19.95)

The Eat-Clean Diet and
The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook

by Tosca Reno

Tosca Reno was in her early forties when she decided to take control of her life. Incredibly, she went from a 200-pound, desperately out of shape woman to a swimsuit model and cover girl for fitness magazines. Her secret, she says, is eating clean.

The Eat-Clean Diet shows how to eliminate the over-processed and sugar-laden foods from your diet and replace them with healthy fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Tips include how to stock your fridge and pantry, feed your kids, the best supplements to buy and easy-to-prepare recipes. And she’s supplemented that information with 150 more delicious recipes in The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook.

Caledon’s Tosca Reno also writes a regular column for Oxygen magazine. (Robert Kennedy Publishing, The Eat-Clean Diet, $19.95; The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook, $21.95)

Acres of Glass

The Story of the Dale Estate and How Brampton Became
“The Flower Town of Canada”

by Dale O’Hara

In 1863, Englishman Edward Dale and his young family bought three and a half acres at the corner of Main Street (Highway 10) and Vodden to grow a market garden. His son, Harry, followed in his footsteps, but found that instead of vegetables, he loved to grow roses. In a few short years Harry’s passion transformed their small family venture into a business empire. At the height of success, the Dale Estate included forty acres of greenhouses and shipped twenty million flowers (including ten million of their famous autographed roses and five hundred thousand orchids) each year, making it the largest greenhouse operation of its kind in the world.

Inglewood’s Dale O’Hara (great-granddaughter of Harry Dale and owner of one of the original Dale rose bushes) brings family lore, archival photographs and interviews together in this engaging history of “The Flower Capital of Canada.”

All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to a Brampton Arts Council grant for aspiring writers. (eastendbooks, $29.99)

South of North

Images of Canada

by Richard Outram with drawings by Thoreau MacDonald;
edited by Anne Corkett & Rosemary Kilbourn

In 1998, Richard Outram, a poet Alberto Manguel has described as one of the finest in the English language, was asked by composer Srul Irving Glick to write poetry for a song-cycle in honour of the work of artist Thoreau MacDonald (son of the Group of Seven’s J.E.H. MacDonald). A year before his death in 2005 he asked two friends, Anne Corkett and Rosemary Kilbourn, to help organize the remaining unpublished poems into book form, accompanied by MacDonald’s drawings. The result is South of North, a gorgeous volume of both Outram’s and MacDonald’s stunningly spare and, oftentimes, breathtaking art. Rural and wild Canada is captured in all her beauty, from the horses of Bonavista to September in the Yukon and the chorus of spring frogs in the Caledon hills. But there’s an edge of sadness, as well. “Threescore miles and ten,” the books final poem, speaks of the vulnerability of all we take for granted:

The problem with what most matters, a heritage loved and inhabited as such, in Babylon bordered by three tarnished seas and one more-or-less straight line, is that all too soon, unless the prevailing misrule is corrected, one won’t be able to get there from here any longer. Not before dark.

Richard Outram divided his time between his Toronto and Caledon homes. Mono Centre’s Anne Corkett is a poet, and Caledon’s Rosemary Kilbourn is a wood engraver. (The Porcupine’s Quill, Erin, $16.95)

The Other Mozart

The Life of the Famous Chevalier de Saint-George

by Hugh Brewster

Joseph Bologne was born in 1745 on the West Indies island of Guadeloupe to a wealthy French plantation owner and a plantation slave. When the family moved to France his father gave him the title of the “Chevalier de Saint-George,” ensuring he receive the education and artistic training of a Parisian aristocrat. Joseph excelled in his studies, overcoming the social stigma of being black to become a champion swordsman, virtuoso violinist, composer, conductor and military commander.

Until recently little has been known about the Chevalier and Brewster provides a fascinating fictionalized biography for both young and adult readers, supported by illustrations by Eric Velasquez, archival paintings, artifacts and timelines of historical figures who intersect Joseph’s life. (Abrams Books, $24.95)

Tell Your Sister

by Andrew Daley

Dean and Aaron, best friends since childhood, enter their senior year in high school with the burning desire to graduate and start their real lives – lives which definitely won’t include staying in their small Ontario town, a place where hanging out at the bowling alley is the highlight of every Saturday night. A turn of bad luck followed by a series of bad choices puts everything Aaron cares about, including Dean’s sister, in jeopardy. For Dean, a single decision will haunt him for years to come.

Andrew Daley writes with gritty realism, creating an authentic world of actions and consequences. He grew up in Orangeville and now lives in Toronto. (Tightrope Books, $18.95)

The Game and
The Last Troubadour

by Derek Armstrong

Mono’s Derek Armstrong makes a splash this year with two very different novels. Both are first books in a planned series.

The Game shakes up the mystery genre by delving into the bizarre world of reality television. Alban Bane, a cop with enough Scot’s attitude for ten good men, lets the zingers fly as he tries to figure out who’s killing off staff and contestants in “Haunted Survivor,” a show where ethically-challenged producers are gleefully driving the “house-guests” out of their minds.

The Last Troubadour is set in the thirteenth century and blends history and fantasy to create a rollicking good tale of love and intrigue. The eclectic cast of heroes (inspired by the Tarot) questing for truth and honour include: a fool, a disillusioned Templar Knight, a cyclops, a bosomy witch and a suicidal monk. (Künati, $26.95 each)

Georgian Bay Jewel

The Killarney Story

by Margaret Derry

Caledon’s Margaret Derry is an historian who understands the big picture. Her previous book, Horses in Society, covered such far-reaching topics as breeding, war, Darwinism, medicine and the science of genetics and eugenics. In her latest book, Georgian Bay Jewel, she takes the same all-encompassing approach to bring her subject into the finest possible focus. Geology, native, military and art history, as well as her own ancestral history (her great-grandparents were among the first to build a summer cottage in the area) combine with hundreds of archival maps, photos and paintings to capture this stunningly beautiful part of Ontario. (Poplar Lane Press, $49.95)

A World Made Sexy

From Freud to Madonna

by Paul Rutherford

“This is the story of the building of a modern utopia of Eros where just about everyone (who was affluent, that is) might dream, play and, above all, shop,” says Paul Rutherford in his introduction to A World Made Sexy. What follows is a no-punches-pulled dissection of our hyper-sexualized culture. The author argues that culture – hailed as liberation by some and demonized as exploitative by others – is really all about separating people from their hard-earned cash. Through a brief history of pornography, Freud, the character of James Bond and the blonde ambition of Madonna, Rutherford develops an intriguing argument as to how we’ve become such a self-indulgent society – and why we’re never quite satisfied.

Bolton’s Paul Rutherford is a history professor at the University of Toronto. (University of Toronto Press, $27.95)


101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic

co-authored by Liz Armstrong

“Cancer is clearly connected to the larger world of environmental health,” says activist and author Liz Armstrong. And when the earth’s health is so obviously failing, is it any wonder cancer has reached epidemic proportions? The problems (smog, chemicals in our foods, personal products and water, etc.) seem overwhelming, but in focussing on solutions to the many preventable occupational and environmental cancers, Liz Armstrong, along with co-authors Guy Dauncey and Anne Wordsworth, gives solid steps (and useful lists of Internet resources) for making smart choices in protecting yourself and your family. This important book not only leaves the reader feeling empowered but also delivers a much needed dose of hope.

Erin resident, Liz Armstrong, is the co-founder of the “Solutions Project” and author of Everyday Carcinogens. (New Society Publishers, $27.95)

Deadly Diversions

by Russ Graham

Russ Graham (the pen name of Orangeville’s Graham McLeod) taps into his experience in the RCAF and as a pilot of 747s to create a murder mystery set in the world of aviation. Someone is killing the pilots of cargo planes. Private investigator Don Carling, a former airline pilot, must sort through the bizarre list of clues leading him to the Russian mob, a mysterious woman and a possible conspiracy which sees him flying all over the world in search of a killer. (authorHOUSE, $22)

Men Are Like Mocha Lattes

by Lisa Summers

Twenty-nine-year-old Lindsay Breyer responds to her ex-boyfriend’s engagement announcement by hopping on a plane to New Zealand in an attempt to “get a life” of her own. Cultural confusion ensues, as well as roommate troubles, job difficulties, a couple of dishy blokes, an out-of-control toddler and the tyrannical ex-wife of a potential “Mr. Right.” With the assistance of self-help books, Cosmo quizzes and “daily affirmations,” Lindsay just might find happiness after all.

Orangeville resident, journalist and lawyer Lisa Summers has created an entirely delightful confection indebted to the Bridget-Jones school of chick-lit. Consume it with a tub of mocha ice cream. (Lisa Summers, $17.35)

Breakout Dinosaurs

by Hugh Brewster

Breakout Dinosaurs isn’t just another book about dinosaurs – it is about Canadian dinosaurs. Describing the landscape as it was when dinosaurs ruled, Brewster brings to life Alberta’s rich variety of fossil remains, Manitoba’s marine reptiles and Canada’s oldest 200 million-year-old dinosaurs found on Nova Scotia’s west coast.

With help from Royal Ontario Museum curators, fossil photographs and vivid illustrations by Alan Barnard, Brewster has assembled a book of dinosaur facts and figures that Canadian children can call their own. (Whitfield Editions, $19.95)

From One Child to Another

A Second Poetry Collection

by Daniel Kolos

Daniel Kolos explores the theme of gathered wisdom in his second collection of spiritual, primal and occasionally erotic poems. To his mentors, Robert Zend, George Faludy and Gwendolyn MacEwen, he writes odes of remembrance and thanks for their guidance. Artists of all stripes, from Frida Kahlo to stone-age toolmakers, reveal fundamental truths. Even his two-year old son has a lesson to impart on the art of how to be fully alive.

Orangeville’s Daniel Kolos has an M.A. in Egyptian language and literature and is a practising Egyptologist. His first book of poetry, Slipped Out, was published in 2003. (The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, $20)

About the Author More by Tracey Fockler

Tracey Fockler is a freelance writer who lives in Orangeville.

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