Five local must-reads

Baby overlords, feminists, ghost stories and more.

King Baby by Kate Beaton (Scholastic)
The second children's book from acclaimed Cape Breton cartoonist Kate Beaton is narrated by an egg-shaped baby who relegates demands with an overlord's authority and facial expressions equally diabolical and cute. Featuring high repeat readability, this colourful, snappy tale will resonate with anyone who is, loves or has been a baby. (Or a king).

Book of Short Sentences by Alice Burdick (Mansfield Press)
This collection of inviting, complex poems is the fourth gem of an offering from under-sung south shore writer Burdick, who also co-owns Lexicon Books in Lunenburg. An appreciation for sound runs through this volume, with pleasing rhythms and heartbeats propelling each page forward. Burdick is an alert observer of relationships, wildlife and nuanced physical and emotional landscapes, with a particular knack for highlighting the beautifully off-kilter, and listening with an open mind: "To see the world as it moves/toward me—whoa."

The Memento by Christy Ann Conlin (Doubleday Canada)
An east coast ghost story with all the right ingredients: A mysterious estate on the Bay of Fundy; supernatural abilities; a cast of intriguing characters who aren't all as they seem and elements of fairytale, the gothic and Jane Austen. We meet protagonist Fancy Mosher at two turning points in her life, and through her story witness the aftershocks of kept secrets rising to the surface. Dark and dreamlike, this is a novel to devour by a woodstove if there ever was one.

Burnley "Rocky" Jones: Revolutionary by Burnley "Rocky" Jones & James St. G. Walker (Fernwood Publishing)
Shaped out of 90-plus hours of recorded conversations with historian James St. G. Walker and current parliamentary poet laureate George Elliott Clarke, this is a very worthwhile celebration of the fascinating life of social activist and lawyer Burnley "Rocky" Jones. The expansive reach of Jones' work is detailed, including his dedication to civil rights, peace activism, Black Power and non-violence movements. This posthumous autobiography offers a key lens through which to view Nova Scotian and Canadian history, and a reflection on issues that continue to be relevant and urgent.

Notes from a Feminist Killjoy by Erin Wunker (BookThug)
Sometimes a good read can feel like a good conversation—and that's true of the first book-length publication from writer and professor of literature Erin Wunker. Divided into sections of "notes" on rape culture, friendships and feminist mothering, these essays grapple with some of the ways inequities of gender and race affect our everyday lives, in both visible and less visible ways. Speaking from a place of vulnerability rather than authority, Wunker offers us connection, thoughtfulness and hope. This book is the ideal companion for any human feeling worn out by the effects of a patriarchal and racist culture.

Jaime Forsythe is a Halifax reader, writer and flute player.

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