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In 1914, Tom Thomson spent the summer at a family cottage on Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay, where he taught the ten-year-old daughter, Helen, how to paint. Author Susan Vande Griek and illustrator Pascal Milelli have imagined this time through Helen’s eyes, providing an intriguing glimpse into the famous painter’s life.
Helen and her father greet their visitor on the rocks of West Wind Island. She is fascinated by everything about him his canoe full of gear, his paint-stained hands, his campfire stew. Over the next few days she watches as Tom paddles off to fish and clambers over the rocks to paint. And then he invites Helen to paint with him wildflowers blooming near the cottage, boats rocking in the water, pine trees blowing in a storm. And at summer’s end, he leaves her with a memento of their time together.
The story, told in lyrical free verse, has a quiet charm, while the illustrations capture the natural beauty that inspired some of Thomson’s most memorable paintings.
An author’s note provides more information about Tom Thomson’s life.
Susan Vande Griek is the author of several children’s books. Her non-fiction picture book Loon, illustrated by Karen Reczuch, was named a USBBY Outstanding International Book and won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award, the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction and the Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award. Susan has also written the acclaimed middle-grade novel A Gift for Ampato and a picture-book biography of Emily Carr, The Art Room, illustrated by Pascal Milelli, which won the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award. She divides her time between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and St. Andrews, New Brunswick.
Pascal Milelli graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design, and since then has illustrated for a wide range of publishing and advertising clients. His illustration credits for children’s books include Rainbow Bay by Stephen Eaton Hume; The Art Room, a picture-book biography of Emily Carr by Susan Vande Griek, which won the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award for Illustration; Waiting for the Owl’s Call by Gloria Whelan and Seal Song by Andrea Spalding, a finalist for the TD Children’s Literature Award. Pascal lives in Vancouver.