What is it that makes Yellowknife such a hotbed for creativity? Apart from all the visual artists, we’ve got a growing stable of writers with new books on offer. In addition to German Saravanja and Nick MacIntosh’s new children’s book (see Artist’s Corner on page 23), here’s a guide to some of the authors living in Yellowknife, and how you can get your hands on their books.
Ty & the Fly is a new children’s book written by Andrea Leask and illustrated by Alison McCreesh. Andrea was inspired to write the story about her 10-year-old chocolate lab Ty who gets obsessed with flies. The story is about Ty’s discovery that crazy things can happen when you chase a fly. The book has received high praise from young fans who choose it first at bedtime, and always for multiple readings.
Andrea is a multi-talented storyteller who works as a dancer, choreographer, performer and author. Alison is a cartoonist, artist and illustrator. Both live and work in Yellowknife’s Old Town. Ty & the Fly is available in Yellowknife at Down to Earth Gallery, The Book Cellar and at both the Northern Frontier Visitor Centre and the airport kiosk. It is also available online at tyandthefly.com. The book costs $14.95, or order online and receive
three books for $30.
Anna and the Bear is Miranda Currie’s rhyming children’s story about an adventurous girl who loves to explore the northern bush. One day she unexpectedly meets a black bear. As she attempts to back away, she is surprised to find that the bear is talking to her. She also notices that he looks and smells awful. Initially Anna is scared, but the bear convinces Anna he will not eat her by informing her that he is an omnivore. Anna helps the bear get cleaned up and gently reminds him that looks are not as important as the true character of a person, or in this case, a bear.
Miranda Currie is a First Nations writer who has always loved the outdoor life and teaching. She lives in a small cabin in The Woodyard of Yellowknife, with her sled dog Kenzie. The rocky landscapes in Anna and the Bear are convincingly illustrated by Yellowknife artist Alison McCreesh. This book can be enjoyed by all ages, and is suitable for Grades 2-4 to read on their own. It is available for $12 at Gallery of the Midnight Sun, Down to Earth Gallery, The Book Cellar or online at mirandacurrie.ca.
For the past 27 years, Brian has lived in the North. When his father passed away in 2008, he found a double entry ledger that had belonged to Joe Spessie, his father’s stepfather. The ledger contained Joe’s diary depicting his life and travels between 1908 and 1919, when he left New Mexico and traveled to Moose Jaw to establish his homestead in Crane Valley, Sask.
Brian remembered seeing this diary when he was a child. Reading it again as an adult gave him the incentive to write his own stories. Even after living in the North for nearly three decades, he still remembers his roots in southern Saskatchewan and wanted his family to be able to look back with him to a time when life was simpler. In Let’s Forefoot da Sonovabitch, Brian relates true stories of growing up in Crane Valley.
The reader will soon see that Saskatchewan was not only about sweeping skies, huge horizons and heartbreak on stricken farms, it was also a wonderful place for children to grow up, with wholesome, remarkable and hilarious people.
The book, Let’s Forefoot da Sonovabitch: True Stories from Southern Saskatchewan is available at Yellowknife booksellers, priced at $19.95.
In Jamie Bastedo’s latest book Nighthawk!, Wisp has a learning problem: he can’t read stars. For a young nighthawk bursting with wanderlust this means trouble, with his peers, his parents, and the starving colony that tries to fence him in.
So he ditches everyone, striking off on a forbidden migratory journey from the Amazon to the Arctic, alone – or so he thinks. Crossing two continents, he wings above South America’s soaring Andes Mountains, over the belching mouth of Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano, across the searing Arizona desert, up to the steaming Alberta tar sands, then steers farther north than any nighthawk before him. Can Wisp beat the odds? Without the help of stars, can he navigate one of the longest, deadliest migration routes on Earth?
Jamie Bastedo, biologist turned storyteller, intimately connects readers of all ages with the magic and mystery of nature. His other children’s titles include Tracking Triple Seven, On Thin Ice, Sila’s Revenge and Free as the Wind. His next novel follows a “screen-ager”’s deadly descent into digital addiction.
Nighthawk, a family-friendly adventure story – featuring a literal birds-eye view of Yellowknife – won the 2013 NorthWords Prize. It is available at the Yellowknife Book Cellar or online. Published by Red Deer Press. $12.95. Suitable for ages 9 to 99.
Cody Punter’s The World At Large is not your average coming-of-age travel novel. Set over the course of the short-lived Occupy Wall Street movement, the story follows Austin – a college graduate desperate for a job – as he joins his disillusioned best-friend Sam on a three-week trip in an attempt to escape the monotony of everyday life. But when the two of them end up on an island surrounded by an army of well-fed backpackers, Austin finds little comfort in the routine of mundane debauchery that comes with being stuck in a tropical paradise in the middle of nowhere. Despite the welcome distractions of a happily engaged gay couple and a pair of innocent looking German girls, the blur of cloudless days and frenzied nights begins to wear on him. As Austin grows increasingly desperate to break free from the absurdity of his surroundings, he has to come to terms with the fact that there is one thing he will never escape.
Cody Punter was born and raised in Toronto. He spent the last 10 years of life moving around, working, studying, looking for something. He currently lives in Yellowknife where he works as a reporter to support his writing habit. The World at Large is his first novel. It is available at Down to Earth Gallery in Old Town and in digital format at Amazon.ca.