On February 17, I Read Canadian Day, four Owen Sound stores will host Downtown BookWalk, a new initiative designed to celebrate local books with story panels readable from storefront windows. Each store will display an excerpt from Going North written and illustrated by Bonita Geraldine Johnson de Matteis. This book for young people is about Bonita’s great great grandfather who was a runaway slave. Families are encouraged to walk the BookWalk to read the story panels safely from outside while maintaining physical distancing. In sequence: the first episode is at The Bleeding Carrot; the second is at Georgian Bay Centre for the Arts; the third is at Grey Gallery; and the fourth episode is at The Ginger Press.
Bonita Geraldine Johnson de Matteis is an artist whose work is devoted to honouring and preserving the history of Black Canadians in the Owen Sound area. Her most recent book is Black Eyed Peas & Races: A Love Story of Memories and Recipes of the Emancipation Picnic. She also designed the Black History Cairn, installed in Harrison Park to commemorate the route of African American slaves from their abduction in Africa and their subsequent escape to freedom in Canada.
The Downtown BookWalk is part of I Read Canadian Day (February 17, 2021), a new nationwide initiative that celebrates the richness, diversity, and breadth of Canadian literature for young people. This event also recognizes February Black History Month, which honours the legacy of Black Canadians and their communities.
Going North: The Story of Geraldine’s Great Great Grandfather ($14.95) and Black Eyed Peas & Races ($24.95) are both available from The Ginger Press Bookshop in downtown Owen Sound.