April 23 has long been an important date in world literature. It’s the traditional death date of contemporaries William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes, as well as poets William Wordsworth, Rupert Brooke, and even P. L. Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins. It’s also the birth date of notables such as Nobel Laureate Halldór Laxness and one of my favourite mystery novelists, Ngaio Marsh. It’s no wonder, then, that UNESCO chose this date for World Book and Copyright Day, aka the International Day of the Book. (It’s held earlier in the year in the UK and Ireland because of Easter school holidays)Continue reading “Let’s celebrate books!”
When we were young, my brother and I took drama lessons for several years in downtown Hamilton. The studio was located in an old, rickety building whose original construction predated Confederation. It had gone through at least a couple of renovations since then, but that all happened long before I came along. To me, the building with its glacier-slow elevator and funny smells seemed, to borrow a phrase, “as old as the hills and twice as dusty.”
In a previous post, I mentioned Jean Little, one of Canada’s most notable children’s authors. She was a favourite of mine growing up, and so I decided to revisit her life and work and write about it here.
Jean Little was born in 1932 in Japanese-occupied Taiwan. Her parents Gorrie (Flora) and Llew were both doctors working as missionaries with the United Church of Canada. Gorrie herself grew up in a missionary family, which often meant a life of long-distance relationships, ably described in Jean’s His Banner over Me (2008).