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ON THE SHELVES: Berries not ready? Pick new local books instead

Hungry for something to read? Pick a new N.L. book.
Hungry for something to read? Pick a new N.L. book. - Contributed

Where I’m living, June was cold and the berries are behind. Raspberries, usually ripe by July’s end, are just reddening up now.

Blueberries are wan on the bushes, and who knows what the partridgeberries are up to.  So, as we wait to head off with our buckets and Tupperware jugs, there is time to enjoy some new Newfoundland and Labrador books.

Whether written by authors living in our province, or those living elsewhere with roots in Newfoundland and Labrador, books exploring the N.L. experience, our history, peoples and cultures, form a special part of our public library collections. We continue to be genuinely impressed and delighted with the quality of new N.L. books that we are able to offer patrons on public library shelves.

Over the past six months a variety of wonderful items for readers of all ages, fiction and non-fiction, have been added to the N.L. collection.  Some are by freshly minted first-time authors, others by established and award-winning writers sending out their latest creation to eagerly awaiting readers. 

Some works have come from our local publishing houses, others from national and international publishers, university presses or else issued by authors who have elected to go the self-publishing route. 

Books of excellent quality have come from all of these sources.

Among the stand-out novels arriving this year are “The Forbidden Dreams of Betsy Elliott” by Carolyn R. Parsons and “The Promise” by Ida Linehan Young (both from Flanker). Although with different historic outport settings, each book features a strong female protagonist facing difficult choices about her future. Other remarkable new novels from Flanker are the delightful return of author Tom Moore in “The Sign on My Father’s House” and Helen C. Escott’s “Operation Vanished,” the second installment of her N.L. crime thriller series.

Among the great new offerings from Breakwater Books are poetry and short story collections: “Unorthodox Guide to Wildlife” by Katie Vautour, “New and Collected Poems” by Tom Dawe, “Dig” by Terry Doyle and “Send More Tourists, the Last Ones Were Delicious” by Tracey Waddleton.  Excellent non-fiction titles have arrived from Boulder Books, including “18 Souls: The Loss and Legacy of Cougar Flight 491” by Rod Etheridge, “Stouts, Miller and Forky-tails: Insects of Newfoundland and Labrador,” by Carolyn Parsons, Hugh Whitney, Peggy Dixon, and Tom Chapman, and “Agnes Ayre’s ABCs of Amazing Women,” an informational (and inspirational) picture book written by Jenny Higgins and illustrated by Jennifer Morgan. While produced with a juvenile audience in mind, this book can serve as an excellent introduction for readers of all ages to influential women whose voices and actions have shaped our province’s history.

Other new and noteworthy N.L. books for children are Gina Noordhof’s self-published “First Born: Snorri Thorfinnsson,” a beautifully illustrated work telling the story of the first European descendant born in North America, at what is now L’Anse aux Meadows.  Likewise, veterinarian Andrew Peacock’s “One Brave Boy and His Cat,” illustrated by Angie Green, can help children and their caregivers understand the difficult and emotional realities of pet ownership. Two fine new picture books arrived from Running the Goat:  Lori Doody’s latest, “Paint the Town Pink,” and a newly illustrated edition of “Peg Bearskin: A Traditional Newfoundland Tale” by Philip Dinn and Andy Jones. For children (and adults) looking for a longer read, Charis Cotter’s “The Ghost Road” (Tundra Books), is a tale of mystery featuring youngsters Ruth and Ruby and their summer spent investigating a family curse in 1970s Newfoundland. Be prepared to stay up all night with a flashlight, as you will find it hard to stop reading this suspenseful story.

Family and community histories are perennial favourites with public library readers. New this year are “Apse the Gate: Stories of Leaving and Finding Home” written and published by Fogo Island transplant Shawn Anthony, as well as David Wesley Sheppard’s “Orphanage: Life Changes Forever,” a memoir of his experiences in the Church of England Orphanage in St. John’s. Local histories include “The Last Mile: A Newfoundland Tragedy” by Hector M. Earle, which is the true story of Baxter Penney, a young man who went astray in the woods of Central Newfoundland on his way home for Christmas from a logging camp in 1934, and “Sailor Soldier Rum-Runner: The Exciting Adventures of Newfoundland’s Captain Jack Randall,” both DRC Publishing.  

Highly anticipated works arrived at the library recently.

One was “Wildness: An Ode to Newfoundland and Labrador” by local celebrity chef Jeremy Charles (Phaidon Press).  More than a cookbook, this work includes stories of locally sourced ingredients, harvesters and the landscapes that have defined Charles’ approach to modern NL cuisine. 

Another was “Nitinikiau Innusi: I Keep the Land Alive” by Labrador Innu activist Tshaukuesh Elizabeth Penashue (University of Manitoba Press). Starting as a diary written in Innu-aimun, this book (edited by Elizabeth Yeoman) is beautifully illustrated with archival images as well as photos from journalists, professional photographers and family collections. All serve as a record of Innu culture and knowledge, and Tshaukuesh’s efforts to protect it.

Noteworthy also is the book which travelled the furthest to join our NL collection this year:  “Champion of the Quarterdeck: Admiral Sir Erasmus Gower (1742-1814)” by Ian M. Bates (Sage Old Books). This biography from Australia is a detailed examination of the life of Gower, including his experiences in Newfoundland as British naval officer and governor.

While I would love to continue, word limitations prevail. This can only be a selection of the amazing local books that have been added to the NL collection so far this year.  I invite each of you to learn about more by visiting your closest public library branch or going to our website (, where you can find complete lists of new Newfoundland and Labrador materials added to our libraries in Winter/Spring and Summer 2019. 

Happy reading, everyone!

Bonnie Morgan is Newfoundland and Labrador Collections and Reference Services Librarian with Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries.


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