Monday, September 7, 2009

The Shoebox Bible

Alan Bradley
McClelland & Stewart Ltd.2006

"To all mothers everywhere - and especially mine"

On the floor of her bedroom, he played on rainy days, grating toy cars and trucks endlessly back and forth across the patterned linoleum; beneath her dresser, the fire hall; under her bed, the police station and the hoosegow; and in her closet, the service station and garage, Free air.

It was here he found a well-worn cardboard shoebox beneath a floorboard. "It was an ordinary large, square shoebox - one that might originally have contained galoshes. On one end was a label printed in blue script:"

Clarke's Shoe Shop - for Finer Footwear
King Street, Phone 536W

It was a cold, dark winter day during the Second World War. Inside the box he found cigarette packages, soup can labels, handbills, calendars, paper bags, pie boxes – any scrap of paper upon which his mother could copy out snippets of Scripture.

His father left to join the Royal Canadian Air Force, and he grew up in a small southern Ontario town with his mother and two sisters and Jeremiah, his pet turtle that lived in a galvanized washtub.

In the early part of the book, I skipped past the long and tedious quotations from the Bible, but there were many snippets of happy memory from my own childhood growing up in southern Ontario about the same time. Cellars (we call them basements here), galoshes, Eaton's and Simpson's mail-order catalogs, scraping curly shavings of frost from the window, Sweet Caporal cigarette packs.

There are many photographs throughout and wonderful pen-and-ink sketches by Bill Slavin. It’s a beautiful and loving memoir, dedicated to his mother

1 comment:

minervamouse said...

What a lovely blog. Great news too about another book about Flavia de Luce - I read 'The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie' on a recommendation from Lynne at Dovegreyreader and adored it.
I suspect that we will have to wait longer for it to be released in the UK tho!