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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Haiti my country, with poems by Haitian Schoolchildren and illustrated by Rogé. Translated by Solange Messier. Fifth House, Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 2014. $ 14.95 ages 8 and up

"Little home
Of wood and concrete
Of sheet metal or straw
Surrounded by flowers
and green trees
Welcomes children
Receives parents
After a day of hard labor
Protects family
From heavy rains
And the giant noon sun"

As he did in Mingan my village, the poetry of young Innu writers, Rogé has drawn incredible personal portraits of these child-poets from Haiti. He spent several months preparing the artwork to accompany these poems that help readers see the beauty in their Haitian surroundings. They are hopeful, and filled with a love for the land that they constantly work to rebuild...with spirit, with cooperation and with a belief in the future:

"When we have a day
Of thousands of sacrifices in a country of tears,
People come here to rebuild their thoughts
Between the sea, the beach, the mountains, and the sky.

On the distant horizon, the sun disappears
To refresh our souls.
We observe the sea and the sky
In harmony, awakening tenderness within us.

While looking up to the mountains
They become neighbours to the sky
That carry the banner of our hope
Into another tomorrow, another sunrise.

- Angelo Borgela (born in 1991)"

They were born between 1991 and 1999.  Rogé is able to capture the spirit and pride that these young teens feel for their country in his carefully drawn portraits. Each of the poets is an inspiration to the reader. Now, his work is being recognized for its brilliance with this announcement sent for immediate release by the Canadian Children's Book Centre on Thursday, October 30:

"The New York Times Book Review has published its annual list of the 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2014. This year’s list includes Canadian artist Rogé who is being honoured for his evocative illustrations in Haiti My Country (Fifth House Publishers, May 2014). For several months Rogé prepared a series of portraits of Haitian children which accompany poems written by students of Camp Perrin in this beautiful collection of art and poetry. Haiti My Country reflects the indomitable spirit of the people of Haiti. It is our hope that this book will help to remind people of both the issues still facing Haiti and the strength and determination of the Haitian people."

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