Spoken-word artist Shauntay Grant is Halifax's poet laureate. She struts her stuff in this vibrant picture book that combines both her favoured medium of expression and her obvious and deep affection for her hometown, Nova Scotia's capital city. Any of this book's energy and exuberance that can't be communicated in words is conveyed visually via Susan Tooke's gorgeous swaths of paint that bring the city, its streets and its people to eye-popping life on the page. Grant and Tooke have worked their dual magic before, in Up Home (2008, also by Nimbus).
On the opening double-page spread, two boys can be seen through a high wire fence, shooting hoops in a school playground, watched by an enthusiastic audience of their peers. The narrator gets the beat going with these words: "Young child runs stick 'cross fence near basketball courts/ hear young brothas dribblin'/ grippin' the ball with they grip/ then pass with a whip/ whip quick 'round jerseys and then/ pull back, release, up and in/ ball whips through rim …"
A laughter-filled war with water pistols replaces the basketball for a moment or two, and then the boys are off again, running past "squaretown barbecues beneath gold rays and rainbow hues/ skies of blues …" Then they're pounding up Gottingen Street, past the Armoury, past the skateboarders and past the drummers jamming outside the bank and in front of the library until they're "poppin' and lockin'/ hip hoppin'/ on the waterfront/ the city speaks in drums/ the city speaks in drums!"