Writer Bernice Morgan had been thinking about the toys that were important to her when she was a girl, toys that defined her childhood in St. John’s.
“I started trying to recall every toy I could remember in my life. I was making little sketches of each one and I was going to make a book out of the memories associated with the toys,” said Bernice.
But a writing assignment for the internationally-recognized Shallaway Youth Choir changed the project’s focus.
“Then Shallaway asked me to do the little bits of narration between the music at their Christmas concert at St. Mary’s Church. It had to be five minute segments, which was perfect,” said Bernice.
There were four segments. So Bernice’s focus naturally shifted from the toys themselves to seasons. Later, when Bernice sat down to write her first children’s book, she built on these short segments to write a book about the sights and sounds of the different seasons of a St. John’s childhood in the years before the war.
It isn’t the only children’s book published this year that was inspired by working with a local choir.
Robert Chafe’s new children’s book,Shiny and New, began with as a special piece for the Lady Cove Women’s Choir. The book is a holiday tale about a new girl moving into a small Newfoundland community.
The similar origin stories behind their books has led to some shared publicity and promotion, interviews, and reviews.
The telegram wrote a story following a shared interview with both Robert Chafe and Bernice Morgan. https://www.thetelegram.com/living/robert-chafe-and-bernice-morgan-release-first-ever-childrens-books-254437/
In a delightful introduction to a review of both books for Atlantic Books Today, Chris Benjamin wrote:
“In the kind of coincidence that can only happen in Newfoundland, two new Newfoundland children’s books have been published, separately, each as a result of choral concert performances.”
They’re letting everyone know that there are two books you can give this year that were inspired by holiday choir performances: one that takes place in a modern-day small town over the holidays when a girl from far away moves to town; and one that walks through the seasons (lingering on Christmas) in a St. John’s childhood brimming with play just before the war.