The illustrations by Melanie Boyle, used throughout the book to deepen its narrative and emotional punch, are key to the experience of reading The Joyful Child.
“I forget now why it seemed so right to illustrate this book. Maybe it’s the importance of children in it, and the presence of children’s voices and stories that brought me to the idea of a kind of children’s book for adults. Melanie Boyle’s drawings deepen the scenes and motifs and open them up. They also make the book a more beautiful thing to hold in your hand, and that seemed a quality that would be well served, as it has been, by the printing and design outlook at Gaspereau Press.”
At a certain age, kids arrive and change everything...Published by Gaspereau Press
The Joyful Child is Norman Ravvin’s third novel. The prior two, Café des Westens and Lola by Night, were city novels – the first mining downtown Calgary and the latter, the feel and peculiarities of Vancouver. The Joyful Child travels from Toronto, where its story begins, to the Gulf Islands, to the southern Alberta prairie, and then on through the United States. The Joyful Child returns to a rhythm that Ravvin picked up in his book of travel essays, Hidden Canada: An Intimate Travelogue.
In all his writing, including his story collection Sex, Skyscrapers and Standard Yiddish, a European Jewish past underwrites Ravvin’s characters’ lives, but in this book this element comes to the fore in only the most shadowy ways. The Joyful Child is about a family in trouble, and about the particular kind of companionship that develops between a father and his young son, both at home and on the road. People are linked by ways of living in the city, by the experience of travel and abandonment, by their love of neighbourhoods, of jazz and old cars.