The author recalls her bucolic childhood in St. John’s, Newfoundland, before World War II.
As the title suggests, Morgan organizes her first-person, past-tense narration seasonally, beginning in spring, when kids, “released from winter’s bulky snow-pants and gaiters,” played in empty fields. Children “learned everything about the known world” at “the supper table,” where the author’s father “worried constantly about money.” During summer, kids explored hilly streets, visited neighborhood shops with “marvellous things to smell and look at,” and watched local craftsmen at work. In her father’s carpentry shop, Morgan piled curly shavings on her head, pretending to be Shirley Temple. She warily started kindergarten in fall, disappointed to discover she was the only child wearing glasses and wasn’t the “smartest or prettiest.” Winter brought kids indoors to amuse themselves or listen to stories around the woodstove. The family’s annual trip downtown to view Christmas toys provided the seasonal highlight. Nostalgic prose lovingly describes a simpler, safer time, when Newfoundland was an independent country and before World War II and Canadian provincial status in 1949 changed everything. Colorful, impressionistic, whimsical pencil and watercolor illustrations vividly capture the childlike wonder and bygone atmosphere of a world “about to vanish.” St. John’s is represented as an all-white community. There is no real plot to hold these dense descriptions together, which may prove off-putting to younger readers.
Not for everyone—but a potential delight for the old at heart. (author’s note) (Picture book/memoir. 10-adult)