Go Home Bay

illus. by Pascal Milelli. 32p. Groundwood. Apr. 2016. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781554987016.
Gr 2–4—Canadian painter Tom Thomson spent the summer of 1914 painting landscapes on Georgian Bay, Ontario, while visiting the MacCallum family. He left 10-year-old Helen with a painting on which she noted, "Given to me by Tom Thomson the summer he taught me to paint." From this brief note, Vande Griek imagines the events of that summer through Helen's point of view, using spare, free verse poetry: "I look out from the dock/at the sun-end of day,/as Tom the canoeist paddles out and about, dip, dribble, glide,/on a now so-calm bay." The process of painting and the passion Thomson felt for his work are introduced to readers through Helen as she observes and learns from the artist. The northern wilds of Ontario, which inspired Thomson's work, are brought to life through Vande Griek's carefully constructed poems, as well as through Milelli's expressive artwork. The heavily saturated oil paintings convey the sense of immediacy present in Thomson's work, while re-creating a sense of the wild scenery that so inspired him. With a strong sense of place, this moody, contemplative title coalesces into a story that will resonate with nature lovers and artists alike.
VERDICT While it is smart to be wary of fictionalized history, there's no harm here; this beautiful and evocative introduction to Thomson's work is recommended for general purchase.

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