Lisa Doucet Reviews Two New Releases from Nimbus Publishing: One Summer in Whitney Pier by Mayann Francis, and Sweetgrass by Theresa Meuse
One Summer in Whitney Pier
Mayann Francis, illustrated by Tamara Thiebaux-Heikalo
Theresa Meuse, illustrated by Jessica Jerome
In One Summer in Whitney Pier, Young Mayann Francis is facing a long and lonely summer … until she discovers helping her parents cook traditional Caribbean meals and treats, embroidering and helping her father get organized for Sunday services. When she comes up with a plan to help her sister’s baseball team earn money to buy proper team uniforms, everyone pitches in to make her fundraising efforts a huge success. Francis’s warm and loving ode to life in a small community where friends and neighbours are akin to family deftly captures a spirit of place and time.
Tamara Thiebaux-Heikalo’s loose-lined and detailed watercolour illustrations lend an air of nostalgia to the story with its uplifting message and evocation of a bygone era.
In Sweetgrass, Auntie takes her two nephews picking sweetgrass. She explains what they should wear and why, and that they need to bring sacred medicines to leave as an offering of thanks to Mother Earth and to the sweetgrass.
She shows them how to clean the sweetgrass and how to braid it, and imparts important life lessons like picking only as much as you need and saving some to share with others. The threesome share a very special day, savouring the beauty of the world around them, the time with each other and this very sacred tradition.
Readers will be touched by their family bond and by the deep respect for nature and for this beloved cultural tradition that Auntie shares with the boys. The illustrations are rich and vibrant and infused with warmth as they depict the highlights of this day.