Allison's Book Bag

Round-Up of Newfoundland Picture Books

Posted on: August 3, 2013

Whew ! What a whirlwind month of reading July was. For years I have been collecting Newfoundland picture books, and this summer I decided it was time to read them. What criteria did I use for my purchases? Basically, as long as the book was by a Newfoundland author and had a Newfoundland setting, I’d give it a second look. Did quality factor into my decision? Yes and no. I’d glance inside to see if the style grabbed my attention, but beyond that I felt happy to find anything about Newfoundland available for young readers. As my pile of books started to grow, I started to become a little more selective, usually limiting myself to one book on a topic. Otherwise, prior to this round-up, almost anything went.

The total number of Newfoundland books I read for this round-up is twenty-one. Naturally, because my focus was picture books, the majority of them were short reads. Four of my selections ended up fitting in a different category. One was a coffee table book, two were chapter books, and one was a hybrid. The latter’s cute pictures seemed aimed at young readers, but the content was overly long and wordy for normal picture book standards.

During my picture book marathon, I generally felt as if being educated, even though thirteen of my selections were fiction. Of the rest, five of my selections were nonfiction, two were told in song or poetry format, and one was an alphabet book. Of those outside of the nonfiction category, six included supplementary information. In other words, just over half of the books were educational to some degree. If done well, this is a great thing. When a book contains content that might seem foreign to the average reader, it’s highly helpful to provide explanations. Although some selections were done better than others, overall I was impressed with the quality of regional offerings from my province. My main question is: Why did I wait so long to read all these top-notch books?

What about the straight fiction books? Even those possessed strong Newfoundland roots. Author Marion Brake set all of her stories in Newfoundland towns. Moreover, three of her five books featured the Newfoundland pony. Heather Boone, who alas only wrote one book, incorporated several animals into her tale. Author Catherine Simpson also wrote largely about animals, covering ones well-known on the island, such as our beloved Newfoundland dog, the Newfoundland pony, and even polar bears. Actually, animals proved to be the common thread. My favorite was that by Al Pittman, who wrote about a most unusual animal: the sculpin. Although again the quality was mixed, I ended up recommending all of them. If you can find them, they’re all worth at least checking out at your local library.

To be honest, I don’t know if Newfoundland children’s authors truly prefer animal tales. Obviously most kids love animal stories, so perhaps the decision is simply a logical and economic one. Or perhaps the bias towards animal books was my own. Over the years, though, I’ve found a few exceptions, and so also have in my collection a book about berries, another about icebergs, one about the demise of the Newfoundland fishery, and three seasonal stories. A cursory glance at the adult selections suggests, however, that there are other kid-friendly topics ripe for picture book treatment, such as shipwrecks and natural disasters, not to mention a few biographies. I’m looking forward to seeing what picture book themes show up on store shelves in years to come.

On that note, I should say that in the future not anything will go. The bar has been set by the picture books already in my collection. That’s why this summer when I saw its quality was lackluster, I passed on a book about a moose. I felt tempted, given that I did not yet have a Newfoundland picture book about moose.  However, with twenty-one books already in my possession I’m now only looking for the best.

For convenient reference, all the posts related to my Newfoundland picture book round-up are listed below and grouped by category:


Discovering Newfoundland Through Picture Books


Baker, Dawn
A Newfoundland Christmas

Boone, Heather
Tales from Tamarack

Brake, Marion
A Horse Named Lady
Lady’s Big Surprise
The Christmas Sock
It’s Okay to be Different
Newfoundland Pony Tales

Pittman, Al
One Fine Day for A Young Scuplin Named Sam

Simpson, Catherine
There are No Polar Bears Here
Sailor: The Hangashore Dog
The Turnip Top Pony
A Viking Ship for Brendan

Stagg, Bruce
Lucy Grey


Domm, Kristin
Atlantic Puffin

Flynn, Dennis
Newfoundland Pony

Goddard, Sally
Gaddy’s Story

Jackson, Lawrence
Castles in the Sea

Obed, Ellen
Patridgeberry, Redberry, Lingonberry, Too by Ellen Bryan


Baker, Dawn
A Newfoundland Year

Davidge, Bud
The Mummer’s Song


Baker, Dawn
A Newfoundland Alphabet

Baker, Dawn
Brake, Marion

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