Happy Canada Day!
There are so many Canadian authors to discover, that I’ll never tire of our great kids and teens’ Canadian reads. It is true. I’ve been keeping a list of the books that I’ve been reading and it seems, without even trying, that the majority have been Canadian. This tells me that Canadian authors are writing hip dystopian teen fiction, otherworldly middle grade fantasy, funny and heart-warming fiction and much more. Our Kids and Teens Team at Indigo have made it easy for us as they’ve come up with two great Canadian kids and teens book shops.
Still, I cannot think of a better way to celebrate our nation’s 145th birthday than to go to one of the biggest influencers of Canadian children’s literature, L.M. Montgomery. Last week I spent five days in Prince Edward Island talking about L.M. Montgomery and Cultural Memory—specifically how much her books continue to be part of our cultural landscape.
Best known for Anne of Green Gables, Montgomery penned over twenty novels in her lifetime and hundreds of short stories. (You can find a full list here.) While there may have been writers before her, since the publication of Anne of Green Gables in 1908, she’s the only one to my mind who has remained in our cultural milieu. And what better way to show this then by doing a little bit of Canadian lit cultural geography by linking Montgomery to a few of my favourite Canadian authors.
I just finished an ARC of Susin Nielsen’s The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen and it was such a great read. It is currently available for pre-order, but if you haven’t read Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mother (recently out in paperback) or Word Nerd, then you are in for a treat. Did you know Nielsen also wrote episodes of Degrassi? Her storytelling expertise certainly resonates, as she tackles difficult issues with humour and sensitivity. Having read all three of her novels, I think, like Montgomery, that she’s creating her own “Avonlea” with an interesting setting and a quirky cast of characters who flit in and out of each novel.
I’m also super excited to finally read Such Wicked Intent this summer, Kenneth Oppel’s sequel to his re-telling of Frankenstein, This Dark Endeavour: Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein. Not only did Montgomery love all things gothic and read the great classics, but while I was researching for my presentation on Gilbert Blythe, I found a fan that had used a picture of Oppel, saying that he looked exactly like what she had imagined Gilbert Blythe would. Given my love for young Gilbert and all books by Oppel, I can easily see this connection…
And, you know my love for Toronto author, Lesley Livingston. This summer brings Starling, the beginning of a new series that takes place in the same Shakespearian-inspired world she created in the Wondrous Strange trilogy. (Another Avonlea, perhaps?) Fellow fans of Fennrys Wolf will be happy, as he plays a pivotal role. Montgomery often wrote about the magic of nature like when she created the ethereal worlds of Kilmeny’s orchard and Anne’s secret garden. And, one cannot forget the bronze Good Fairy that sat in Montgomery’s home.
Also, Toronto author/ illustrator, Patricia Storms, has the most hilarious cartoon of Anne and Gilbert on her website, and Rachna Gilmore’s award-winning short story collection of a young boy growing up in PEI during the depression,That Boy Red, was inspired by her love of the island and Anne.
I love how we can connect to such a strong literary heritage. Makes me proud to be Canadian.