First days at school are al­ways scary

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Helen Norrie

THE Pocket Mommy (Tun­dra, 32 pages, $18 hard­cover) by Ot­tawa author Rachel Eug­ster, with art­work by On­tario artist Tom Gold­wa­ter, will res­onate with kinder­garten stu­dents.

When Sa­muel doesn’t want to re­main in school with­out his mommy, she of­fers to be­come small and stay in his pocket for the day. But he’s not pre­pared for the trou­ble Mommy causes: knock­ing off books, fall­ing into flour and cor­rect­ing his art work.

By the end of the day he’s happy to in­sist that Mommy stay home. Gold­wa­ter’s wa­ter­colour art­work makes an at­trac­tive ad­di­tion to the text.

First-graders will en­joy Noni Is Ner­vous by Toronto TV host and author Heather Hartt-Suss­man (Tun­dra, 24 pages, $20 hard­cover).

Noni is wor­ried about her first day of school. She bites her nails and twirls her hair as she won­ders if her teacher will be mean, if she’ll spill her juice box, if she might have an ac­ci­dent. But when all goes well, it is her mother and fa­ther who are ner­vous and bite their nails.

Hartt-Suss­man is known for such chil­dren’s ti­tles as Nana’s Get­ting Mar­ried and Here Comes Hortense! Award-win­ning artist Geneviève Côté of Mon­treal has added sim­ple but sen­si­tive il­lus­tra­tions.

Christ­mas is even more sur­prised by her own at­trac­tion to life as a nun. Her too-ready re­frain is a ver­sion of the book’s oft-re­peated cen­tral ques­tion: “What the hell was I do­ing there?” Glo­ria Ann Wes­ley is a Hal­i­fax writer

She de­lights in the dif­fi­cult choices and poet whose work has mainly cen­tred she has to make: be­tween a third maron sto­ries of black set­tlers in Nova Sco­tia. riage or a vow of celibacy, be­tween livHer lat­est young-adult novel, If This Is ing in a condo or a con­vent. Freedom, pub­lished on the Rose­way im

Un­for­tu­nately, Christ­mas chooses to print of Win­nipeg’s Fern­wood Pub­lish­ing struc­ture her story around her de­ci­sion(272 pages, $20 pa­per­back), tells the story mak­ing process. She writes in the past of Sara Cooper, who ac­cepted the prom­ise tense but re­peat­edly won­ders aloud if of land and pro­tec­tion to those who had she will choose life on the in­side or the stayed loyal to Bri­tain in the Amer­i­can out­side of the nun­nery walls — someRevo­lu­tion­ary war, moved from Amer­i­can thing very much set­tled in re­al­ity and ter­ri­tory and re­lo­cated to an area called rather ob­vi­ous to read­ers who’ve taken a Birch­town on the out­skirts of Shel­burne, quickS.peek at the back of the book. N.

The sus­pense isn’t any­where near as How­ever, re­al­ity soon proves the pro­munbear­able as Christ­mas’s ef­forts to ises false. The land is poor, sup­plies are drum it up. scarce and the only work avail­able is of

While there is in­ter­est­ing ma­te­rial in the most me­nial kind. this book, it feels in­creas­ingly dis­inSara has signed an in­den­ture agree­ment gen­u­ous with each chap­ter. It feels, to be with the Blyes, a wealthy, un­scrupu­lous frank, like a pro­longed per­for­mance of cou­ple. In a plot rem­i­nis­cent of Les Misin­de­ci­sive­ness by a woman in­vested in érables, when her wages are with­held she the kook­i­ness of a man­u­fac­tured situ­asteals a loaf of bread to feed her fam­ily, a tion. deed that leads to unimag­in­able con­se­quences.

If This Is Freedom (be­ing re­leased Oct. 1) is not an easy book to read. There are many in­stances of bad faith and un­nec­es­sary hard­ship. The al­most death-bed con­ver­sion to de­cency of the Blyes seems both too late and too un­likely.

Wes­ley has told an hon­est tale of a very dif­fi­cult pe­riod in Nova Sco­tia his­tory. While Sara is a heroine of courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion, her ef­forts here seem des­tined to have very lit­tle pos­i­tive out­come.

The Path of Names, a first novel by Van­cou­ver author Ari Goel­man (Arthur A. Levine/Scholas­tic, 340 pages, $19 hard­cover), is about a maze. Not since Carol Shields’ Larry’s Party has this de­lib­er­ately con­fus­ing ar­range­ment of green­ery and paths held such a prom­i­nent role in a novel.

How­ever, Goel­man’s maze is magic and has some­how trapped the souls of two lit­tle girls who wan­dered into it years be­fore.

Half fan­tasy and half re­al­ism, his story con­tains an­cient Jewish lore and a num­ber of sa­cred He­brew words. The nar­ra­tor, 13-year-old Dahlia Sher­man, has been sent to a sum­mer camp to learn more about the He­brew re­li­gion and lan­guage.

As she deals with ghosts and golems, and chil­dren pos­si­bly dis­ap­pear­ing into the maze, this book might just be­come a late-night thriller for fu­ture campers.

In my Au­gust re­view of Sue Ma­cLeod’s novel Name­sake, I mis­tak­enly at­trib­uted Lady Jane Grey’s death to a com­mand of Henry VIII. She was ex­e­cuted at the or­der of Henry’s daugh­ter, Mary, in 1554.

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