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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Go Home Bay, written by Susan Vande Griek and illustrated by Pascal Milelli. Groundwood, 2016. $18.95 ages 6 and up

"He steps out on our dock -
Over one eye
his dark hair falls,
and my father says,
"Helen, meet Mr. Thomson.
He's come to stay."

I shake his hand,
tanned and strong,

One definition of a memoir is this: a record of events written by a person having intimate knowledge of them and based on personal observation. I think it is really important to share books that offer  stories to our young writers that come from a memory or an experience that impacts a life.

In this new book from Susan Vande Griek, a young girl meets a man her father introduces as Mr. Thomson, and who introduces himself as Tom. He smells of 'campfires and all outdoors'. She listens as her father and the stranger converse about art, lakes, fishing and camping. She watches as he makes a big pot of stew which they are invited to share. She follows him throughout the summer days as he sketches their surroundings, takes canoe trips and finally, invites her to try painting with him.

"We slap down our colors,
green branches,
gray trunk,
faster, faster,
rush to paint water,
riled up."

For those who know nothing about acclaimed Canadian artist Tom Thomson, this might be just what is needed to spark interest and a wish to learn even more. Pascal Milelli uses outdoor scenes and bold colors and textures, reminiscent of Thomson's paintings, to illustrate it. In free verse poetry, Ms. Vande Griek imagines how the young girl felt as she watched and learned from an artist whose passion for northern Ontario and its beautiful surroundings is evident in the work he produced.

An author's note describes his work, and that summer in 1914 when Tom Thomson was invited to paint on Georgian Bay .... the summer he taught a young girl how to paint. A list of resources is included as well.                                                                

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