My Home Bay|
by Anne Laurel Carter. Illustrated by Alan and Lea Daniel
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by Olga Stein
Gwyn, along with her parents and younger sister, Linden, have just moved from Vancouver to a new home in Nova Scotia on Mahone Bay. Gwyn is terribly upset about having been forced to abandon familiar surroundings and her Vancouver friends for what looks like an old house in the middle of nowhere. Anne Laurel Carter neatly captures a child's newly-arrived at sense of isolation as well as that about Mahone Bay which, by way of negative comparison, manages to assert its distinct beauty despite Gwyn's inability to appreciate it.
"In the night, our room echoes with empty spaces. I hold Rose Bear tight. There are no friends next door, no whoosh of cars, no smell of rain on pavement. Only my sister and the moon, the sigh of the wind, and the smell of the ocean."
Reluctantly Gwyn settles into her new home and takes up a daily routine of helping her parents refurbish the house, clear out overgrown hackmatack, and plant irises and lupins. School starts, and then wonderful things begin to happen: Gwyn makes a friend, Megan, who lives down the road; she discovers the pleasures of picking cranberries "hidden under shiny dark leaves", and of sitting in a large pine tree that overlooks her property's salt marsh, a place that resembles "little puddles of water between big islands of grass"; her uncle Pete takes the family out on his boat to show them his wondrous underwater mussel 'farm'; and later, the family gathers in their new kitchen to sample the steamed mussels and eat the cranberry pancakes Gwyn's father rustles up with maple syrup from the neighbour's sugar bush.
Months pass, and with the change in seasons, Gwyn and Linden enjoy observing, from their newly-built treehouse atop Gwyn's favorite pine tree, how, with Christmas approaching, the salt marsh "seems wrapped in white tissue paper." And for a Christmas gift, instead of the horse Gwyn had made her parents promise to get her when she agreed to the move to Nova Scotia, she receives instead an aquarium filled with seahorses, a fitting addition to Gwyn's new home by the sea.
The illustrators, Alan and Lea Daniel, are to be commended for their expert watercolours. These communicate as much of the story as the text.