Africville, a historic black community that was located on the shores of Nova Scotia, is described from a child’s perspective in this nostalgic picture book.
“Take me to the end of the ocean,” begins this homage. The artwork, in brightly colored oil and pastel on canvas, combines past and present. The opening spread shows a modern-day black girl arriving at the shore, “where waves come to rest and hug the harbor stones.” On shore, family, childhood, and community scenes from historic Africville await her. Some details are easy to imagine, like going to “watch the sea bring us all its treasures” and hearing “stories shared all around me.” Others are specific to Africville but evocative of childhood adventure, like meeting at the Caterpillar Tree and “rafting down at Tibby’s Pond.” Still other details spark curiosity, like blueberry duff and “where my great-grandmother’s name is marked in stone.” On the final spread, the modern child enjoys an ice cream cone at a reunion, facing out at readers. The endmatter describes a community that was vibrant but neglected, then demolished in the 1960s. The annual reunions initiated in 1983 and the building of a museum echo the note of optimism on the final spread: “where memories turn to dreams, and dreams turn to hope, and hope never ends.” The writing is spare but emotional, and the art brings the community to life.
A loving tribute to a history that should not be forgotten. (bibliography) (Picture book. 4-7)