________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 19 . . . . January 23, 2015


The Village That Loves Oysters.

Dustin Milligan. Illustrated by Meredith Luce.
Charlottetown, PE: Acorn Press, 2014.
24 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-927502-24-2.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Beth Maddigan.

**½ /4


The villagers love oysters.

The tasty shellfish, caught in Malpeque Bay,
Are relished and savored each meal of the day.
They eat oysters for breakfast, dinner and lunch.
On hot summer days they drink oyster-laced punch!

The lone restaurant's menu has such an amount
Of oyster-themed dishes - too many to count!
The meal of the day is oyster bean bake;
For dessert, there's oyster-sauce-drizzled cheesecake.


The Tyne Valley Oyster Festival has been a popular celebration for fifty years in Western Prince Edward Island. The oysters of Malpeque Bay are celebrated with a shucking contest, music festival, and a wide array of mouth-watering mollusk-inspired festival food. The Village That Loves Oysters celebrated the event and the warm-hearted people of the town with its launch on the 50th anniversary in 2014. Written in rhyme, the jaunty tone matches the pace of the poetry. The illustrations work with the exaggerated narrative in their cartoon style, and the oyster-tones and mollusk images are littered everywhere, giving the book some potential extra seek-and-find oyster fun.

     A great homage to the Tyne Valley Oyster festival, The Village That Loves Oysters is highly recommended for visitors in PEI planning to take in the event, or for those that have fond memories of past visits. As a stand-alone picture book, however, the book has some limitations. The rollicking rhyme is a solid read aloud, most of the time. However, it occasionally loses its meter and becomes a little difficult to pace appropriately. And some of the rhyming words seem forced, or exaggerated - not for the sheer fun of the exaggeration - but to make the rhyming scheme work. Milligan takes creative liberties with nods to the styles of Clement Moore and Dr. Seuss. The text is fun-filled and will be most appreciated after repeated read-aloud attempts. Adults are cautioned to practice this text aloud before reading it for the first time to an audience of children.

     Likewise, the illustrations have some minor oddities. For example, a layer cake illustrates a cheesecake reference. However these issues are minor, and most children will appreciate the obvious fun the young people are having - especially at the oyster shucking contest. The festival's signature event is the Canadian Oyster Shucking Championship. In 2014, the festival also reportedly broke the Guinness World Record for most oysters shucked in one hour. Filled with oyster-pride, The Village That Loves Oysters is a fitting tribute to a great event.


Beth Maddigan is Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Education Librarian.

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

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