Kids books ex­plore city’s restora­tion

Dev­as­tat­ing event killed nearly 2,000 100 years ago

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - Books -

A fresh gen­er­a­tion of chil­dren’s books is find­ing the grace notes in Halifax’s worst mo­ment — a mas­sive ex­plo­sion that lev­elled much of the city 100 years ago but in­spired acts of kind­ness that still res­onate.

The books vary on how closely they ap­proach the wide­spread in­jury and nearly 2,000 deaths that re­sulted from the mas­sive Halifax Ex­plo­sion of Dec. 6, 1917, when a French mu­ni­tions ship col­lided with a Bel­gian re­lief ves­sel in the city’s wartime har­bour.

Still, as hur­ri­canes and earthquakes bat­ter com­mu­ni­ties around the globe, the retelling of Halifax’s time of trial tend to come to­gether in their de­sire to find hope amidst the floods and rub­ble.

“I didn’t want to dwell on the de­struc­tion, but more on the help that peo­ple gave,” said Mar­i­jke Si­mons, au­thor of The Fly­ing Squir­rel Stow­aways: from Nova Sco­tia to Bos­ton (Nim­bus), one of two pic­ture books for young chil­dren that re­call how Bos­ton res­i­dents rushed north in a train to as­sist.

Other books deal with the ex­pe­ri­ences of a Halifax news­boy, and of an or­phaned girl who loses her fam­ily.

The Christ­mas tree given each year as a gift by Halifax to its south­ern neigh­bour is a key theme for Si­mons as well as for il­lus­tra­tor Belle DeMont and her fa­ther John DeMont in their book The Lit­tle Tree by the Sea: From Halifax to Bos­ton with love (Nim­bus).

The As­so­ci­ATed Press/il­lus­TrA­Tion by briAn hughes/TorsTAr news ser­vice

U.S. aU­thor Ge­orGe SaUn­derS favoUrite to win Man Booker Prize Amer­i­can au­thor Ge­orge Saun­ders is favoured to win the pres­ti­gious Man Booker Prize for fic­tion with his novel of the af­ter­life, Lin­coln in the Bardo, ac­cord­ing to Bri­tish book­mak­ers. Book­mak­ers Lad­brokes and Wil­liam Hill made Saun­ders the front-run­ner among six fi­nal­ists an­nounced Wed­nes­day for the $66,000 US prize. His novel is set in a Wash­ing­ton grave­yard, where Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln vis­its the body of his 11-year-old son in 1862. Three Bri­tish and three Amer­i­can au­thors make up the fi­nal­ists. They range from 29-year-old first-time nov­el­ist Fiona Mo­z­ley to 70-year old New York icon Paul Auster.

The cAnA­diAn Press/nA­TionAl Ar­chives of cAnAdA

a mas­sive ex­plo­sion lev­elled halifax in 1917.

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