I heard my mother call my name and I know I should go in, but it is summer and dusk and beautiful.
So begins Nancy Hundal's first book, an evocative prose poem that has us share intimately the images and sensations of a child's view of dusk falling on a neighbourhood. The sense of quiet contentment and reluctance to leave the magical, peaceful twilight time makes this a wonderful “end of day” book — soothing for children, full of nostalgia for adults.
"A gentle prose poem in which the “soft hum of night” transforms the rhythm of the street into a magical world that holds a child transfixed. The beautiful illustrations by Laura Fernandez capture the haunting beauty of dusk in this picture book for children from preschool through Grade 2."
Donna Alberts, Red Deer Public Library
This book is the winner of the 1991 Sheila A. Egoff (BC Book Prize).
It's November. The trees shiver. The birds shake. And my red rain boots haven't splashed in a single drop.
So where's the rain?
He's a young boy with a handsome new pair of boots. Only there are no puddles to squish in, there's no rain to run in — just the threatening promise of a gray November sky. Despite his disappointment, the boy sees, smells, hears and senses the season in every evocative, beautifully imagined detail of his search. When the rain finally comes and taps out its invitation, the little boy is home, his red boots toppling over by the radiator in anticipation of tomorrow's watery adventures.
Award-winning author Nancy Hundal's PuddleDuck is a superb picture book, one with that rare combination: perfectly matched text and illustrations. Both are masterful and rich; each enhances the other.
Written in prose, PuddleDuck is poetic in style; Hundal's use of language and imagery is fresh and intensely evocative. She captures the imaginative life of a child without being condescending or cute. The story combines down-to-earth realism and whimsical fantasy to create a poignant yet unsentimental tale. Reminiscent of Margery William's beloved Velveteen Rabbit, the story concerns a little girl, Bianca, whose stuffed duck mysteriously disappears one summer day near a pond. She searches for him frantically and, failing to find him, decides to wait for his return. When ducks come back to the pond the next spring, there is a new white duck among them. Bianca suspects it is PuddleDuck. How she comes to terms with her loss, and how the love of her lost duck continues into adulthood, make this tale strongly realistic. Unlike the the Velveteen Rabbit, this story is told from the child's perspective, and the real pain of a child who has lost a precious toy is forcefully conveyed. This is a stirring story, beautifully told.
It's difficult to ascertain which is the more deeply magical - the words or the pictures. This is an absolutely mesmerizing work and is proof again that really really great writing is not wasted on the young.
Chloe...is marooned at home by a whopper of a snowstorm, the kind that cancels birthday parties, school and a dentist appointment. Standing in the third story attic window of the big Victorian house she shares with her mom, Chloe notes how the snow first flutters in “like a secret”, renders her “snowjoyed”, and leaves her pining for the new world “white and still, a smooth piece of drawing paper.” Rushing outside, Chloe the artist is ready to create a snow angel with food colouring and imaginary fairy dust. She notes how some adults hate and curse the snow and how others — like her exuberant mom — playfully revel in it.
...This is the perfect book for reading to your youngest ones, and suitable also for intermediate, solo readers, as Hundal uses poised prose — not two dollar words — to tell her story. An excellent book.
On a rainy night, a little boy, Luke, is warm and safe and dry, snuggled between his siblings, in the back of the family car.
Mom Driving, Dad yawning, brother humming. Sister sleeping -- already!
Luke fights sleep on the drive: not a valiant fight, you understand. But a pleasant one as he watches the changing streets around him and observes things through his sweet, child's eyes.
Now come the dozing skyscrapers. Boxes of yellow light and mute machines. Down a quiet street, a darker street, where an old man with a blank face leans in a doorway, not going in, not going out. Rain weeps at the window.
These are strong verbal images and Reczuch's illustrations do them justice...
Linda Richards, January Magazine, October, 2000
"In addition to a bouquet of Vancouver memories, the book's depiction of this totally ordinary family scene also brought back another recollection which will be familiar to many adult readers. Remember a time when you were so small that falling asleep in the back of a car was normal, and you could expect to be carried into the house at the end of the trip and mercifully deposited in a cozy bed? Evidently, so does author Nancy Hundal.
This is a book that transports you to a place in a way that is poetic and magnetic, both."
For some of us, there is nothing more boring than a summer at home. That's why this story, told by “city cousins” about their summer vacation on the prairies, takes on special excitement that comes with travel. Hundal can reduce entire experiences and feelings from prairie life into a fragment that packs more meaning than five or six full sentences: “Heat shimmer, bug whine, freedom.”
Hundal's Prairie Summer has its own busy rhythm, and there are plenty of allusions to eating wonderful food including bread baking and homemade preserves. There are drive-in movies and a town hall wedding dance to attend, mosquitos to swat and fields to roam in.
Kate Seller, Quill and Quire, Toronto
A review from The Canadian Review of Materials published by The Manitoba Library Association.
Nomimated for the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year.
Shimmering reds and golds of summer heat radiate from Toronto artist Brian Deines' illustrations for Number 21, written by Vancouver's Nancy Hundal, a story that evokes delicious sensations of summer in an unusual context - the arrival of a new dump truck. Young Nancy tells the joys of getting to know her father's new commercial truck - new radio, new horn, chocolate bars in the glove compartment. But when her parents fill the truck's box with water, she's thrilled to see it serve double duty as a swimming pool...this truck book with a difference should attract any young vehicle addict - and the illustrations positively exude summer
Dierdre Baker, The Toronto Star
Trucks are perennial favorites, especially for boys. Many books have been written about the powerful machines and NUMBER 21 by Nancy Hundal is a good choice to add to the fleet.
Nancy is one of three children whose father drives a dump truck. When he brings home a big, new truck the excitement is too much to bear. The children pour through the truck, pushing and turning every button and knob. Then it gets even better - Dad fills the bed of the truck with icy, cold water and the children cool off with a quick dip in the back.
This wonderful story is pure fun and highlighted by the beautiful artwork of Brian Deines.
The Flint Journal, Flint, Michigan
Nominated for the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year.
This year won't be like the others. There will be no paintings or fluffy towels, clothes racks, jackpots or mouse ears. Nancy and her family are going camping. Just the thought of camping is bad enough. Outhouse, mosquito bites, burnt food and lots of work—what kind of holiday is this?
But from the moment their campsite is established, the family slowly begins to discover the magic of life in the wild. Nights are so quiet and dark, it's like being wrapped in a blanket. Food that warms the stomach and awakens the senses. Swimming in the lake, climbing trees and lolling in the sun. And millions, no bajillions of stars. More time, less o'clock. That's what camping is about.
Nancy Hundal's prose seems to dance off the pages in this valentine to camping. As with her previous bestsellers, NUMBER 21 and PRAIRIE SUMMER, CAMPING is filled with unique expressions and descriptive language so beautifully precise, it brings with it an almost electric shock of recognition.
...this book is the perfect primer to soothe the nerves of a skittish child who might be anxious about an upcoming camping trip, or it could be a good after-the-trip book to reinforce some particularly good memories. Heck, when a book looks this good you might also buy it for its artistic value.
Gilbert Bouchard, The Edmonton Journal
Money is scarce. This will be a holiday without malls and theme parks. The family is going camping.
Faced with their first camping trip, the children are not enthused about the burnt food, mosquito bites and work setting up camp. How can that be a holiday?
Once camp is set up, however, they begin to enjoy the freedom from time, the lolling in the sun watching ants march, the challenge of climbing trees and the cool relaxation of swimming in the lake.
Nancy Hundal brings a camping trip alive, with all its pluses and minuses, in evocative visual text. Brian Deines uses his deep richly-coloured palette and perceptive eye to capture the children's experiences.
Andrea Deakin, Chilliwack Times May 28, 2002
A review from The Canadian Review of Materials published by The Manitoba Library Association.
Nominated for the Amelia Francis Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Medal.
Miranda knows exactly how she wants to celebrate her midsummer birthday. No bowling, no pin the tail on the donkey, no hotdogs. Instead she wants an evening party with shimmering lights, sandwiches, cake, lemonade, friends — and the fairies who live at the bottom of the garden. Vancouver writer Nancy Hundal waits till the end to reveal that this particular party happened long ago. Don Kilby's illustrations are saturated with colour, against which the fairies flash silver.
Change. Krista hates it, but it’s everywhere: new town, new house, new kids. And what’s worse, the town is ugly, the house is shabby and every kid is skinny and already has a best friend. Whereas Krista is lonely and . . . round. Forced to leave her best friend and fancy home behind, Krista struggles to fit into a town with no place for a book-loving city kid whose worst fear is appearing lakeside in a bathing suit.
Krista wants to find a real friend to share her secrets with, not just the retired gym teacher or a nine-year-old with endless snoopy questions. Will that ever happen, when her only activity is going door-to-door, selling broccoli-flavoured diet bars called Weight Wackers?
In a story filled with kaleidoscopes and butterfly dreams, Krista comes to learn that home is more a state of mind than a place. And in a town filled with things that will never change and things that never cease changing, she learns that a true friend can come in any size or at any age.