Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Review: An Old Man's Winter Night

Publish January 13, 2016

With more than four hundred years of hauntings, ghost ships, and restless spirits, Newfoundland and Labrador is a treasure trove of ghost stories. And as every storyteller knows, each person who tells a story adds their own particular twist. An Old Man’s Winter Night is a collection of ghost stories interpreted by poet and writer, Tom Dawe, and artist, Veselina Tomova. Together, they have produced a creepy book that goes right to the dark heart of a good ghost story and the tortured emotions of guilt and betrayal that cause the dead to rise and walk again. The title story is about an old man whose cruelty drove his family away, and who now lives alone, haunted by a huge black dog that appears in his bed at night. Another tells what happens to a terrified boy locked in a root cellar by his abusive aunt. The one that gave me the most shivers up my spine features six dancing dolls, whose tiny footsteps can be heard creeping up the stairs at night.  These gripping stories are told by a narrator who takes a dark delight in the grim apparitions, and uses Newfoundland expressions to great effect. The extensive glossary includes ice glim (the glow above an ice field), drook (dense woods), and blue drop (ocean). Tomova’s stark, sombre woodcuts have a nightmare quality that perfectly compliment the macabre tales. An Old Man’s Winter Night is a spine-tingling book to be savoured and read aloud by both children and adults, but reading it alone should be avoided at all costs. Not for the faint of heart.

An Old Man’s Winter Night

Tom Dawe
Illustration EN: Veselina Tomova
Running the Goat Books & Broadsides
ISBN 13: 978-1-927917-04-6