Saturday, 17 May 2008

Buying Local at the Bookstore

No doubt, over the last year, many of us started exercising increased care and consideration when choosing toys for our little ones. My family’s toy box has certainly experienced a metamorphosis. Its contents consist primarily of handmade items created by yours truly. When purchasing toys, I attempt to stick to items made as close to home as possible. My reasons for this approach are varied ranging from safety, quality and aesthetic considerations to environmental and social concerns.

Recently, my focus has shifted from the toy box to the bookshelf. Have you ever taken a moment to read the fine print in your kiddies’ books? “Printed in China” appears time and time again. It seems that books, like most other consumer goods, make a long trek from the other side of the world before reaching store shelves. Practically speaking, it would be impossible for me to limit my library acquisitions to items printed in North America. My passionate love of books prevents me from setting such harsh restrictions! It is, however, worthwhile and rewarding to explore the numerous children’s titles available from our very talented local authors. Most often, these books are printed and published in Canada, something that just seems to make a lot more sense!

A new family favorite, which I recently picked up at The Box of Delights in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, is Bounce and Beans and Burn by Shannon Murray, illustrated by Doretta Groenendyk. Murray is from our neighbouring Maritime province, the beautiful Prince Edward Island. Groenendyk lives just a hop, skip and a jump from my parents in the Annapolis Valley. In fact, I’ve been admiring her whimsical, folksy artwork for the past couple of years at local galleries. What a treat to have some of them so beautifully presented in one of our cherished bedtime tales.

This is a fun, magical tale of a little boy with “Bounce and Beans and Burn” and a wonderfully vivid imagination. Chi-Chi seemed to connect with the main character almost immediately. Perhaps he feels a sense of kinship with our friend Sam in the book. My experience has been that books written by local authors tend to strike a chord with my children. Most often, the subject matter hits home with them as the stories include familiar landmarks, characters and concepts.

I’m looking forward to stocking Chi-Chi and Muffy’s summer reading list with more “local products” over the months ahead!

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