The Year in Books: 2014
On this literary landscape, serious nonfiction works are neighbours with lighthearted children’s fare; heartfelt memoirs rub shoulders with gardening lore.
The many accomplished authors on these pages all have roots in the Headwaters region, but a glance at their collective output reveals that may be the only thing they have in common. Which, of course, is great news for the omnivorous reader. On this literary landscape, serious nonfiction works are neighbours with lighthearted children’s fare; heartfelt memoirs rub shoulders with gardening lore. To highlight just a few, there are works of Canadian history – a hefty history of the fur trade by Barry Gough and photo-rich accounts from the Great War by Hugh Brewster. Parents and grandparents will find delightful bedtime companions in Mary Scattergood’s fairies and Sean Cassidy’s woodpeckers. And the latest from Catherine Gildiner, Coming Ashore, picks up the threads of her engrossing memoir series at the formative age of 21.
This year some of this literary bounty is being formally recognized by the Caledon Public Library in its new Read Local Caledon program, launched in October. A bookish version of the booming eat-local trend, Read Local Caledon invites Caledon and area authors to join a new catalogue of books designed to celebrate and promote their work. Writing can be a very solitary occupation, says Mary Maw, the library’s manager of communications and programming. “We’re hoping to get the word out: We want to get to know you.” The program features new spine stickers on participating books, a series of events bringing local book lovers together, and prominent online bios of participating authors on the library’s website. (Guidelines for qualifying authors can also be found there.) To date, 29 contemporary authors are represented in the collection, including some covered here, such as economics and ethics writer Andrew Welch, and Heather Scavetta, who shares her experiences in the world of meditation and psychic workshops. So far the collection includes 124 titles, with contemporary authors joining such grandfathered literary stars of Caledon as the late Farley Mowat and Robertson Davies. “We want to celebrate our talented homegrown authors and give them a platform to increase their recognition in our community – online, in the catalogue and on the shelf,” says Ms. Maw.
As the offerings in our annual review suggest, that catalogue is sure to swell in 2015, and with it the certainty that these hills offer fertile ground for the creators and lovers of the written word. —Tralee Pearce
From Vimy to Victory:
Canada’s Fight to the Finish in World War I
by Hugh Brewster
In the same award-winning format as his previous books, On Juno Beach, At Vimy Ridge and Dieppe, Hugh Brewster continues the series with From Vimy to Victory. Archival photos, letters, paintings and maps reveal a multifaceted view of the final campaigns of the Great War. All the titles in this series are visually stunning, but it’s Hugh Brewster’s gift for storytelling within the factual events that makes them so special. We meet a soldier saved from a midnight shelling by the ghost of his dead brother, the 19-year-old private who single-handedly took out a deadly machine gun pillbox, as well as brave women serving as nurses and ambulance drivers.
Hugh Brewster’s previous books include RMS Titanic and Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. He lives in Mulmur. (scholastic, $19.99)
by Catherine Gildiner
When we last left young Cathy McLure (the tree-climbing, civil rights-pursuing, smart-mouthed child/young woman of Gildiner’s previous memoirs, Too Close to the Falls and After the Falls), her first love had turned out to be married, and the FBI was on her doorstep. What to do? Well, she’s 21 and it’s the late 1960s, so…swallow a groovy green pill, write an hallucinatory essay on Milton’s Paradise Lost and get into Oxford, of course.
But clomping through the halls of Oxford in platform heels and miniskirt is just the beginning of Cathy’s adventures. The next few years will see her brush shoulders with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and young Bill Clinton, teach at a high school in a burned-out ghetto in Cleveland, move to Toronto – only to have a run-in with the FLQ – and fall in love.
Catherine Gildiner is a bestselling novelist, columnist, screenwriter and clinical psychologist. She lives in Creemore. (ecw press, $27.95)
Catherine Gildiner, author of Coming Ashore in Conversation with Terry O’Reilly
Catherine Gildiner, author of Coming Ashore in Creemore.
The Elusive Mr. Pond
The Soldier, Fur Trader and Explorer Who Opened the Northwest
by Barry Gough
In his extensive memoirs, Sir Alexander Mackenzie credits himself with opening the northwest to fur trading and settlement. Unfortunately, he left out one very important fact. His success relied on the information and detailed maps of Peter Pond, the man who travelled there before him.
Barry Gough sets out on his own exploration to reveal the truth about the barely literate, American ex-soldier who charted the first canoe routes, Aboriginal tribes and trails in the Athabasca region. Maps, letters and Ponds’ own short memoir uncover a fascinating portrait of a rough, aggressive, possibly murderous man and his determination to expand the North West Company’s fur trading empire.
Historian Barry Gough, author of Juan de Fuca’s Strait: Voyages in the Waterway of Forgotten Dreams, divides his time between homes in Victoria B.C. and Mulmur. (douglas & mcintyre, $34.95)
A Woodpecker’s Tale
by Sean Cassidy
Award-winning Orangeville author and illustrator Sean Cassidy has delighted us with stories of roosters, frogs, mice and porcupines. This time, it’s woodpecker’s turn – and what an adventure! Pierce is a young woodpecker ready to fly and find his own dinner. Fretting Mama isn’t so sure, even though he’s grown too big to sit on her lap. Determined Pierce sets off, and after a series of mishaps – with his loving Mama secretly watching over him every step of the way – he finally finds the perfect meal.
Included in the book are fun facts and activities, as well as a challenge. Can you find the 13 shadowy woodpeckers hiding in the illustrations?
Sean Cassidy’s previous titles include Good to be Small, Wake up, Henry Rooster! and Kazaak! (fitzhenry & whiteside, $18.95)
More than That
by Sheena Blake
How much can a child be loved? A whole lot, it turns out. More than there are stars in the sky and grains of sand on the seashore. The little girl in Sheena Blake’s delightful picture book positively glows with the soul-deep knowledge that she holds a special place in the hearts of her parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties.
During her studies at Humber College, Orangeville’s Sheena Blake received the New Venture Funds award. With the proceeds she and Toronto illustrator Andrea Farrow produced this book. Blake also founded Discovering Diversity, a public school program to motivate and empower youth. (discovering diversity, $10)
A Breath of Frost
by Alyxandra Harvey
Regency-era London isn’t quite what it seems. Dukes and duchesses may display their daughters in a frenzied marriage-mart of parties and balls, but unbeknownst to the Haute Ton, malevolent creatures stinking of dark magic swirl amongst the waltzing couples.
Emma Day is bored. Bored with balls, snide girls, stammering boys, and a certain gorgeous viscount who kissed her senseless and now snubs her entirely – that is, until she stumbles upon the body of a debutante covered in an icy layer of frost. Emma and her two cousins are quickly drawn into a new reality of witches, warlocks, animal familiars and the mysterious Council.
Mono’s Alyxandra Harvey is the author of the bestselling Drake Chronicles. A Breath of Frost is the first book in her new series for teens, The Lovegrove Legacy. (walker books, $19.99)
Whatever Life You Wear
by Cecilia Kennedy
Best friends Carly and Ashley are desperate. Carly needs a break from her alcoholic mom, and Ashley’s self-absorbed parents are sending her on a trip to England, forcing her to miss an important equestrian trial. The only thing to do is trade places. Easy-peasy.
Turns out, not so easy. Ashley experiences how lonely Carly’s hardscrabble life is, while Carly, pretending to be a rich Caledon estate kid must use all her smarts to keep up the charade. And, as they soon find out, they aren’t the only ones pretending to be something they’re not.
Whatever Life You Wear skillfully portrays the pressures of teen life, as well as the risks and rewards of revealing your authentic self.
Cecilia Kennedy is a longtime educator who taught for many years at Robert F. Hall Secondary School in Caledon East. She lives in Brampton. (red deer press, $12.95)
I’d Rather Be Me!
by Marnie Worry, Illustrated by Kristen Zietsma-Franjic
A bouncy rhythm and catchy chorus make I’d Rather Be Me! the perfect book and music CD for kids of all ages. The song, written by Marnie Worry, made the leap to book form when Worry met illustrator and fellow teacher Kristen Zietsma-Franjic at The Maples Independent Country School in Orangeville. Together, they created a fanciful story of a child contemplating the pros and cons of life as a bird, a cat, a tree or a fish. In the end, hugs from mom and not having to eat worms convince him it’s always better to be who you really are.
Marnie Worry lives in Orangeville. Kristen Zietsma-Franjic lives in Shelburne. (marnie worry, $8.99)
The Life and Times of Duncan R. Derry
by Douglas L. Derry
Excerpts from Duncan Derry’s journals chronicle the life of an English immigrant’s early years in Canada, his success with mining giant Rio Tinto, and the founding of his own exploration company as an economic geologist. His work took him to Canada’s far north, South America, India, Greece, Egypt and Australia – every continent except Antarctica. Also included are personal notes depicting his family life, lectures given to the Royal Institute at the University of Toronto, and a selection of his watercolour paintings.
Caledon’s Douglas Derry is a corporate director, biographer and Duncan Derry’s son. (poplar lane press, $40)
The Value Crisis
From Dollars to Democracy, Why Numbers are Ruining Our World
by Andrew Welch
Caledon’s Andrew Welch loves numbers. Growing up, he admired the dependability of adding, multiplying, grouping and playing with their infinite possibilities. As an adult, living in a world of global warming and economic meltdowns, he believes we have become conditioned to accept decisions based on the cold logic of numbers, even when they conflict with our ethics. As systems, human values and number values are completely at odds, and as a society, he argues, we must change our way of thinking if we are to survive.
Andrew Welch founded his first software company in 1984. He now operates Intellact, a consulting and IT service. (aanimad press, $20)
F is for Feelings
by Goldie Millar and Lisa A. Berger
The inability to express an emotion, especially a negative one, can be unbearable. For a child with limited vocabulary, these unexpressed emotions may lead to depression, tantrums or other forms of acting out. Goldie Millar and Lisa Berger’s clever alphabet book teaches children that feelings are natural and important, and provides them with the words they need to describe their experience in the world. Bright illustrations by Hazel Mitchell depict scenes of children afraid on the first day of school, bravely facing a dark room, confused over a puzzle, determined to swing across the monkey bars, and so on. Included are tips and activities for caregivers to help keep kids mentally healthy.
Goldie Millar lives in Bolton. Lisa Berger lives in Schomberg. Both authors are clinical and school psychologists. (free spirit publishing, $11.99)
The Power of Love
A Mother’s Miraculous Journey from Grief to Medium, Channel and Teacher
by Heather Scavetta
After a car accident took the life of one of her 17-year-old twin daughters, Heather Scavetta made the brave decision to do more than just survive; she determined to live a meaningful life. Through meditation and psychic workshops, she and her husband, Tony, learned to feel energy and opened their minds to a new reality. Death isn’t an ending, it’s a transition into the next state of being. Once they understood how to recognize the signs, they experienced messages and even visitations from their daughter, Elizabeth. The couple founded the School of Miracles out of their home in Caledon where they teach courses in meditation, psychic development, mediumship and Reiki. (iuniverse, $14.95)
There are Fairies at the Bottom of Our Garden
by Mary Scattergood
The garden fairies gather every sunny summer morning to watch the old woman with the watering can tend her flowers. To make her smile and sing, they peek out so she can catch a glimpse of them. When the old woman’s granddaughter comes to stay, the fairies hide in fear, but the old woman shows the little girl how kindness and patience bring them out again.
Orangeville artist and art instructor Mary Scattergood based this delightful children’s picture book on time spent with her own grandmother, singing to the fairies in the garden. (burnham publications, $19.95)
On the Self-Published Shelf
My Three Little Lands
by Pia Wiesen
Born and raised in Merzig, Germany, with the culinary influences of Saarland, Lorraine, Alsace and Luxembourg, Pia Wiesen learned to cook from her mother and grandmothers. Colour photography accompanies favourite recipes, including goulash, fish soup, rouladen (German meat roll), strudel and mehl spaetzle (a delectable dish of flour dumplings, potatoes, bacon and cream). These meals are hot, nourishing, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food prepared with love and meant to be shared with a lively table of family and friends. As a bonus, Pia’s husband, Stefan, recommends wines to accompany each course.
Caledon’s Pia Wiesen is the founder of Pia’s on Broadway restaurant in Orangeville. (©piacookbooks & ©kltc art, $34.99)
The Mousehouse Years
by Velvet Haney
In graphic novel format, Velvet Haney revisits the bittersweet memories of her childhood. The simple drawings dramatically portray life in the early ’60s as Velvet, one of six kids, is raised by a single mother in the slums of Toronto.
Velvet Haney owns a summer home in Caledon. (hilborn: civil sector press, $29)
The Window of Life
A Theory of the Earth Based on Asteroid Impact
by Ben Tripp
After many years of research, Ben Tripp made a startling conclusion. Instead of a single impact, multiple asteroids collided with Earth and brought on the Ice Age. With this theory he explains many of the natural mysteries of our planet and the near universe.
Ben Tripp has a master of applied science in engineering and has worked on large optical telescopes and test equipment for CanadArm. He lives in East Garafraxa. (ben tripp, $28.99)
by Sonia Day
Adie, a New York artist in a troubled marriage, inherits a rundown century home on 100 acres in backwater Ontario. Little does she know, a hunter wanting access to her land will change her life forever.
Belwood’s Sonia Day is a writer and gardening columnist for The Toronto Star. Her previous titles include Middle-Aged Spread: Moving to the Country at 50 and The Untamed Garden. Deer Eyes is her first novel. (belwood publishing, $17.99)
Chickadees at Christmas
by Carolyn J Morris
Carolyn Morris wraps up her series starring 15-year-old Billy and his friend, Gus, with an old-fashioned Christmas in the country. Homemade gifts, cooking from scratch and a new litter of puppies are just a small part of this gentle tale for both young and old.
Beeton’s Carolyn Morris is a teacher and speaker. (railfence books, $12.95)
Ten New Snowdrops
by Brian Bixley, illustrated by Hallie Watson
With tongues set firmly in cheek, gardening guru Brian Bixley and artist Hallie Watson introduce cold-climate gardeners to ten new species of snowdrops. From Galanthus “Oddball,” a biennial flowering only in odd-numbered years, to the increasingly popular Galanthus “Walmart” – not to be confused with the British versions “Sainsbury” and “Tesco” – there’s surely a variety to tickle every gardener’s funny bone.
Mulmur’s Brian Bixley is also the author of Essays on Gardening in a Cold Climate. Hallie Watson divides her time between Mono and Halifax, N.S. (brian bixley, $10.95)
by Julie Hall
“People see an abandoned chair in the street and think, ‘It has the potential to be something beautiful.’ People see a homeless kid on the street and think, ‘Don’t make eye contact.’”
Keep Quiet’s honest portrayal of two teens trying to make a better life for themselves on the streets of Toronto is a wonderful illustration of friendship and compassion. Julie Hall is an Orangeville high school student with a passion for writing and music. (blurb, $15)
You Only Live Once
The Early Years 1979-1996
by Steven Nicolle
Waiter extraordinaire, Orangeville’s Steven Nicolle recalls his exciting career in the hospitality industry. From scraping by on bartending tips to travelling the world and serving the rich and famous as a sommelier and a maitre d’, good times were definitely had by all. (friesen press, $19.99)
Obligations and Aspirations
A Memoir of Growing Up in Korea and an Unexpected New Life in Canada
by Kim Jai Sook Martin
This fascinating memoir by Shelburne’s Kim Jai Sook Martin details the struggle of growing up in Korea during the civil war, the culture’s many expectations of her as a young woman, and her brave journey to Canada in hopes of a better education and a richer life. (iuniverse, $20)
After the Last Day
by Don Hayward
Global economic collapse, sky-high gas prices, stores emptied of basic necessities, and governmental chaos test the residents of Dufferin County in this intriguing work of speculative fiction.
Former Dufferin Country resident Don Hayward now lives in Grey County. (virtualbookworm publishing, $29)
Gypsy in the Clouds
by David Chesterton
The second volume of David Chesterton’s pseudo-biography sees Michael Davidson, an artistic young man with synaesthesia (the ability to see auras and colour in sounds), growing up and joining the RAF during WWII.
My Caravan’s a Rainbow is the first in Chesteron’s Gypsy Book memoirs. He lives in Caledon. (david chesterton, $20)
by Diane Bator
A woman on the run from her crime-boss boyfriend finds herself stranded in small town America. She decides to stay and, she hopes, disappear forever. But just as she begins rebuilding her life, a man from her past appears and throws her entire world into jeopardy. Orangeville author Diane Bator won the 2010 Wynterblue Publishing Murder in Ink writing contest for her first book, Murder on Manitou. (books we love, $9.99)
How to Become a Golf Goddess
Embrace Sacred Play and Unlock the Hero Within
by Margarit Brigham
Margarit Brigham combines yoga, visualization, breathing techniques and spirituality to reveal the goddess in every golfer.
From 1997 to 2000 Brigham owned and operated The Yoga Connection in Orangeville. She now lives in North Vancouver, B.C. (profits publishing, $25)
From Unlovable to Lovable
by John D. Ellis
After years of running a Christian healing retreat centre and working as a personal minister, Orangeville’s John Ellis had an epiphany. Trimming the branches of past trauma gains only short-term relief. You have to go for the root in order to move on. With this book he hopes others can leave “unforgiveness” behind and find peace. (essence publishing, $20)