________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 12. . . .November 20, 2009

cover

Emma’s New Game.

Gerald Mercer. Illustrated by Jillian Nicol.
St. John’s, NL: Pennywell Books/Flanker Press, 2009.
32 pp., pbk., $11.95.
ISBN 978-1-897317-44-0.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Alison Mews.

**½ /4

   

excerpt:

In the shed, Poppy T drilled a hole through the centre of each chestnut. Emma tossed out the ones that cracked and kept the good ones.

“Are you still wearing those old workboots, Emma?” asked Poppy T. “Take them off and give me the laces. We have conkers to make.”

Emma removed the laces from the boots. Poppy T tied a knot at the end of each one. They strung a chestnut on each lace and let them dangle.

“Ready?” asked Emma.

“Ready,” replied Poppy T. “You go first.”

The match was on!

Following fast on the heels of Emma’s Treasure, author/illustrator team Gerald Mercer and Jillian Nicol have created a second story of Emma and her friends. In this one, the children discover the old-fashioned game of conkers played with horse chestnuts, and their grandfathers rediscover the game of their boyhood. Children and grandfathers challenge one another, and soon Emma becomes the new champion on the shore.

internal art      The loving relationships between the generations and the strong sense of community are the major strengths of this book. This is seen in the initial intention of Emma and her grandparents to go berry-picking together, an activity which is quickly overtaken by the excitement of creating conkers and also by the subsequent match between the three children and their grandfathers. The story is much more successful than the first one which unfortunately was didactic in transmitting Newfoundland history to a younger audience. In this book, the children behave more realistically, and the dialogue is more natural.

     Illustrator Jillian Nicol depicts the outport landscape calmly drenched in greens. Her figures are roughly sketched and somewhat stiff, with a minimum of expression. She has coloured in the sketches with soft shades of blues, purples and browns, using sepia tones to separate Poppy T’s reminiscence from the present. Unfortunately, the cover is rather unattractive and unlikely to entice children.

Recommended.

Alison Mews is the librarian at the Curriculum Materials Centre in the Faculty of Education at the Memorial University of Newfoundland.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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