The Harbour Explosion: The Nova Scotia Episode
Lisa Tasca Oatway
Tellwell Talent (2022)
Reviewed by Stephanie Elizabeth Long for Reader Views (11/2022)
The Stonehart family embarks on a trip to Nova Scotia during the winter break. Beyond the excitement of visiting, they learn some sobering facts about Nova Scotia’s history. The Harbour Explosion was a formidable beast, killing thousands and injuring even more. Further, an unshakable sadness felt by little Tori sends her and Ronni back to the explosion scene, where they must help a helpless stranger.
“The Harbour Explosion: The Nova Scotia Episode” by Lisa Tasca Oatway invites young readers to join the Stoneharts on their adventure to the Maritimes. Traversing via train from Montreal to Halifax, readers are privy to the vivid descriptions of the ever-changing landscape. Further readers are regaled by the various museums and monuments, including the enchanting Atlantic Ocean. Youngsters will quickly find themselves transported to Canada’s eastern paradise.
Told in the third-person perspective, the book allows readers to connect with each family member (four children and two parents) as they experience the excitement of traveling somewhere rich in history. It’s not all rosy, though; each child faces challenging obstacles that ultimately help them evolve as characters. For instance, Ronni must come to terms with her accident’s unfortunate consequences, and Tori must work through the intensity of emotions that certain events evoke. Young readers will feel like they are an integral part of the solution and, essentially, a part of the Stonehart family.
The author did an excellent job weaving historical facts into the story in a way that didn’t seem forced. Young readers will learn facts about the Harbour Explosion of 1917 and fun facts about the mayflower, Oak Island, musical artists, and famous hockey players native to Nova Scotia. I enjoyed how the writing unearthed facts and sparked emotion and further inquiry from the Stonehart kids. Little Tori was able to relate a horrific event to something (on a smaller scale) that had impacted her, which shows children the value of empathy.
For children who love adventure and traveling to various parts of the world, this charming book will satisfy their adventurous spirit and ignite curiosity. The characters are well-developed and relatable; young readers will undoubtedly see themselves in one, if not more, of the siblings, and the author has made learning exciting and effortless. In addition, the book is chock full of various facts to entertain and inform inquisitive kids (and parents!) alike.
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