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Harry Bruce.
Photography by Chic Harris.

Toronto, University of Toronto Press, c1982.
unpaged, cloth, $14.95.
ISBN 0-19-540393-2.

Grades 6 and up.
Reviewed by Joan M. Payzant.

Volume 11 Number 2.
1983 March.

There has been a proliferation of coffee table books with lavish colour photographs of Nova Scotia or particular areas of the province in the past ten years. They sell like hotcakes, especially at Christmas time, because, as Harry Bruce, co-author of A Basket of Apples, writes, "Nova Scotians know in their bellies that they've inherited an epic past." Seeing a new photo essay of their native province on book shop shelves rouses the same impulse as coming on an old family album-acquiring a copy is a must.

A Basket of Apples reached my door appropriately enough on the day I returned from a tour of the fruit and vegetable stands strung along the old road through the Annapolis Valley. The book is every bit as tempting as are those fruit stands with variety for every taste. Eighty-one-year-old Chic Harris's coloured photographs are culled from a collection he took five years to assemble. They are a pleasing mix of semi-abstract and realistic shots. Everyday patterns that residents of small seashore villages take for granted become works of art, e.g., close-ups of raindrops on beach rocks, stacked-up lobster traps, discarded rose-and-white scallop shells on a background of wet sand. Architectural details typical of Nova Scotia-a widow's walk, Scottish dormers, wooden churches-bring sighs of recognition and satisfaction to the browser. All are in beautiful colour with blues, greys, and greens predominating, a fit and proper combination for a province almost surrounded by the sea.

The commentary by Harry Bruce skips along lightly, touching on both textbook-type history and local legend, slipping it easily between philosophical observations about people or geographical descriptions.

This is the second such book for both Bruce and Harris. Bruce wrote the text for Nova Scotia (Hounslow, 1975), and Chic Harris was one of several photographers whose work appeared in that volume. Neither Bruce nor Harris is a native Nova Scotian, but perhaps they appreciate their adopted province all the more for this very reason. Certainly A Basket of Apples expresses in their words and pictures what native Nova Scotians feel in their hearts.

Joan M. Payzant, Dartmouth, NS.
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