"On Our Radar" is a monthly 49th Shelf series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet.
Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall, by Suzette Mayr
"...it was definitely a surprise when I figured out I'd internalized and then reproduced names from the television show Downton Abbey in my new novel without realizing it. I'd deliberately chosen the name "Crawley Hall" as the name of the main building, but only because I liked the sound of "crawl." But then only very late in the writing process I realized I'd also used the names Edith and Carson, and I'm pretty sure there are other Downton Abbey influences in there that I haven't recognized yet. That show irritates me so much: I hate it, but I love it. I can't believe it infiltrated my brain like that. I also accidentally copped from Alice in Wonderland without realizing it too: I have a character in my new book who wears a Cheshire Cat watch, and somehow two characters both named Alice, and jackrabbits and an obsession with time. Clearly I don't have a single original thought in my head."
During Black History Month, we've been looking back at the history of African-Canadians, but it's also just as important to look forward. We asked author and children's librarian Joanne Schwartz to create a list of picture books set in Canada featuring African-Canadian children characters and other children of colour so that young Canadian readers from all kinds of backgrounds can see the myriad ways in which books are a mirror of their lives and of the world.
Up Home by Shauntay Grant, illus. Susan Tooke
About the book: A positive, heartwarming portrayal of North Preston past and present. This touching poem from spoken-word artist, poet and CBC Radio personality Shauntay Grant portrays the Nova Scotian community of Preston. Short, staccato lines, musicality and the use of real, spoken language, and Susan Tooke's breathtaking illustrations using real models from the community, combine in a sensory experience that is sure to wow readers of all ages. Grant's memories of growing up reflect a magical place where landscape, food, history and, most of all, people come together in a community filled with love and beauty. A powerful story with positive images of one of Nova Scotia's most important black communities.
About The Legend of the Fog, from Inhabit Media: In this traditional Inuit story, a simple walk on the tundra becomes a life-or-death journey for a young man. When he comes across a giant who wants to take him home and cook him for dinner, the young man's quick thinking saves him from being devoured by the giant and his family, and in the process, releases the first fog into the world. Written by Cape Dorset elder Qaunaq Mikkigak and Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award–nominated author Joanne Schwartz, this action-packed picture book brings a centuries-old traditional tale to life.
Writer Joanne Schwartz is a children's librarian at the Toronto Public Library and has a special interest in picture books. She is the author of Our Corner Grocery Store , illustrated by Laura Beingessner, and City Numbers and City Alphabet, with photos by Matt Beam. She lives with her two daughters in Toronto.
Julie Wilson: The Legend of the Fog is one of the most gorgeous, haunting books I've read in a long time. And it isn't the first time you've collaborated with another creator for a book. What draws you to these partnerships?
Joanne Schwartz: In my two previous books, City Alphabet and City Numbers, published by Groundwood Books, I collaborated with writer/photographer Matt Beam. I …