Stories from Atlantic Canadian hearts and minds
Share the gift of Atlantic Canadian creativity and heart in memoir, fiction and food this holiday season. Explore titles from the humorous to the serious, imaginative to reimagined, mystery and reality, all in this selection of 10 books. This selection features stories close to home and heart.
Santa Never Brings me a Banjo / Cher père noël, où est mon banjo?
David Myles, illustrated by Murray Bain
Translated by Marie-Jo Thério
Nimbus Publishing and Bouton d’or Acadie
For music lovers in the family, this lyrical tale (available in both French and English) is a great read-a-long and play-a-long for children and parents. Young David wants one thing for Christmas: a banjo. Follow his earnest ups and downs, letters to Santa, and holiday season with his furry friends and family in this brightly illustrated children’s book.
Written by local musician David Myles, this book also includes original sheet music to his popular holiday song for families to play. Santa Never Brings me a Banjo also includes a special holiday message from David Myles.
Briana Corr Scott
Share Briana Corr Scott’s imaginative retelling of Thumbelina and an exploration of environment. Whimsical illustrations and poetry celebrate love between mother and child, kinship between humans and animals, and bravery, giving agency to Wildflower in this retelling, “You cannot own a wildflower.”
An old woman is granted her wish for a child in the form of a thumb-sized girl born inside a flower. The old woman is elated at motherhood but must learn the lesson of letting wildflower go with the wind. Wildflower refreshes the spirit of Andersen’s tale and imparts a lesson for young readers about respecting nature.
This is a perfect gift for parents, parents-to-be, recent graduates, young readers and anyone with a love of nature.
I Kid You Not!
Give the gift of witty, honest humour in everyday life from bestselling author Lesley Crewe’s follow up column and essay collection, I Kid you Not! The sequel to Are You Kidding Me?! shares her unique take on life in 90 essays encompassing hockey, wildlife, family and much more.
She shares becoming a grandmother in early 2020, and her experiences writing during the pandemic, (“Piss off and leave me alone. I have a family-sized bag of M&M’s to finish.”) Crewe’s recounting of life is sharp, cunning and relatable, a joy for the humorous and curious to read.
Tunes and Wooden Spoons
Mary Janet MacDonald
MacIntyre Purcell Publishing
Tunes and Wooden Spoons is a perfect gift for your local Cape Breton cook, musician or passer-by. Mary Janet MacDonald launched her Facebook group, Tunes and Wooden Spoons, during the pandemic to have some fun with family and friends, celebrating Cape Breton recipes and music. Couple the sweet aroma of homemade Cape Breton Cinnamon Buns with lively music and Mary’s wit, and today she’s become a social media sensation with over 50,000 followers. Tune in and share the gift of her debut cookbook full of Cape Breton recipes and local charm.
Salt Beef Buckets
Amanda Dorothy Jean Bulman
Fall in love this holiday season with Newfoundland’s rich local culinary, people and memories with Salt Beef Buckets: A Love Story. At the heart of Amanda Bulman’s debut cookbook is Newfoundland’s local, seasonal cuisine and stories behind the recipes that make food special.
This cookbook is good for beginners and experts alike, centred around the belief that anyone can cook delicious food with local seasonal ingredients. Breakwater Books published Salt Beef Buckets: A Love Story with recycled materials, making it a good choice for environmentally conscious readers. Share this tasteful insight into Newfoundland’s culinary history, unique land and community.
Take your family to Halifax this holiday season with this illustrated pop-up of Halifax by Brad Hartman. Explore six iconic scenes of Nova Scotia’s capital city and beyond, including Peggy’s Cove village, Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts, Fairview Lawn Cemetery, resting place of Titanic Victims, the Halifax Public Gardens, and Lawrencetown Beach, a surfer’s dream.
This book is great for locals and tourists alike – catch the waves in vibrant, full-colour pages, or scour the city’s buildings.
A Matter of Equality
Donald Oliver reflects on his life as a Canadian Senator, lawyer, and outspoken social activist for Black Canadians in this long-awaited autobiography.
Oliver grew up in the only Black family in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and sought to honour his great-grandparents, who fled American slavery. He grew up with music, family and respected role models. Oliver’s family creed was “work hard, be humble, love the Lord, and do all you can to help other people.”
A Matter of Equality crafts Oliver’s story with his thoughtful reflections and black-and-white photographs, and how he’s dedicated his life to rooting out systemic racism. Share Donald Oliver’s legacy of his 23 years as a member of the Senate of Canada, and the first Black man in the upper house.
I’m Finding My Talk
Rebecca Thomas, illustrated by Pauline Young
I’m Finding My Talk is a great gift to accompany I Lost My Talk.
Award-winning spoken word artist and Mi’kmaw activist Rebecca Thomas answers Rita Joe’s iconic poem I Lost My Talk in this illustrated children’s book. Both books are illustrated by Mi’kmaw artist Pauline Young.
As a second-generation residential school survivor, Thomas writes a response poem openly and honestly, reflecting on surviving colonialism and rediscovering community and culture. I’m Finding My Talk explores sewing regalia, dancing and learning traditional language.
A Womb in the Shape of a Heart
Joanne Gallant explores motherhood and miscarriage in this honest, beautiful and heartbreaking story. A 30-year-old pediatric nurse, Gallant was diagnosed with bicornuate uterus (a heart-shaped-womb).
Gallant shares her story of loss and raising her son, holding space for the complexities of grief and joy in motherhood. This story is heartbreaking and heartwarming, giving voice to the challenges of infertility in parenthood and many joys raising her son.
“I am the space between motherhood and longing for it, but it’s a space that doesn’t exist. I can’t be both fertile and infertile, our language doesn’t allow for it,” Gallant writes.
The Family Way
Give the gift of mystery, historical fiction and family with The Family Way.
Set in 1930 and based on true events, the story follows Tulia May in rural Nova Scotia and her mother working near the Ideal Maternity Home. Tulia is dismissive of her mother’s work, where unwed mothers go to give birth and arrange adoptions, until her sister Becky ends up in the home. Her friend, Finny Paul, believes dark secrets are being kept at the home and now she must find the truth.
Laura Best explores the tragic events of the Ideal Maternity Home and Butterbox Babies through this imaginative retelling and characters. The Family Way is a standalone middle-grade novel and also is a prequel to critically acclaimed Cammie novels, Flying with a Broken Wing and Cammie Takes Flight.