________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 37 . . . . June 2, 2017


Lily in the Loft.

Carol L. MacKay. Illustrated by Val Moker.
Regina, SK: Your Nickel's Worth Publishing, 2017.
32 pp., paperback, $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-927756-91-9.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Sabrina Wong.

**½ /4



Frances loved the loft. She sat near the hay door with her notebook and pencil and scribbled poems and stories.

Lily in the Loft tells the story of an aspiring writer, Frances, and her hopes of being published in a Canadian farm newspaper. Based on the experiences of the book's author, Carol MacKay, this story highlights an important piece of creative history in the Canadian Prairies. An appendix informs readers of the significance of the Young Co-operators' Club section of The Western Producer farming newspaper. From 1927 to 1994, this section encouraged young Canadian writers, especially those in the Prairies, and allowed them to connect with other children by seeing their creative works in print.

internal art      As a child, MacKay submitted writing to the Young Co-operators' Club, or YC Club, from her home in Ryley, AB, a village east of Edmonton. Like her character Frances, MacKay wrote under a pseudonym, although hers was "Peppermint Patty" rather than "Lily in the Loft". In the story, Frances is encouraged to write by her Aunt Margaret who supplies her with notebooks and shows her the YC Club section of the newspaper.

internal art      While the story follows a fairly straightforward plot where the heroine eventually triumphs, it is written in such a heartfelt manner that it is hard not to celebrate with Frances when she sees her poem in print. It conveys a wistfulness for a past when stories were submitted by post and stamps rather than online forms and email. In contrast to the often instant gratification of online publishing platforms. Frances waits for weeks to see her poem in the newspaper, It would be interesting to see how this purposefully nostalgic story resonates with today's young readers.

internal art      Illustrator Val Moker chooses a palette of dusty browns and muted colours to depict the landscape of the Prairies. Her choice of medium, oil paint, allows her to layer colour in a deep but hazy way that emphasizes the sentimental tone of MacKay's story. Moker's familiarity with the Prairies results in illustrations that enrich the scenery of the story, especially for those readers who have never visited the Prairies. Her illustrations showing an increasingly disappointed Frances make use of both body and facial cues to express emotions clearly.

internal art      Most of the pages use an interesting one-third to two-third split for illustration panels and text, an approach which gives the book a comic book-like effect. The smaller, one-third side panels tend to focus on details in the surroundings, like stalks of wheat or a postage stamp, while the main two-third panels show the main action. On pages 13-14, two very similar, closer-up images of Frances flipping through the newspaper are bookended by images of the mailbox.

internal art      While Lily in the Loft may not speak to every child, it certainly could be meaningful to young aspiring writers and creators, and the book's message, to try hard and not give up, is a valuable one for all children. Lily in the Loft is a sweet, old-fashioned type of story that celebrates patience and perseverance.


Sabrina Wong is the Teaching and Outreach Librarian at Capilano University in North Vancouver, BC.

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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