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The Killick: A Newfoundland Story

TitleThe Killick: A Newfoundland Story
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsButler, Geoff
PublisherTundra Books
ISBN Number0887763367
DescriptorsCommunity; Death; English Language; First World War; Fishery; Fishing Community; Grief; History; Nature; Newfoundland and Labrador; Painting; Picture Book; Resettlement; Sea Stories; Seals; Second World War; Travel; War; Weather

This picture book centres around Newfoundland artist Geoff Butler's paintings of life in his home province. It tells the story of a boy named George who lives with his grandfather because his father has gone to find work on the mainland after the close of the Newfoundland fishery. George's grandfather was a member of an outport community that was resettled, and he and George travel back to the small island where his grandmother is buried. Returning home, they are caught in a storm and spend several days trapped on an ice floe. Many issues and events are discussed within the story, such as Newfoundland's contribution to the first and second world wars, the treatment of sealers by environmental groups, resettlement, the violence of nature, courage, and death. Portions of the story are told in dialect. Includes a glossary and a short history of Newfoundland.


Newfoundland and Labrador

Age Range


Author Profile: 

The Killick is about how people treat people. The story is focused on young George and his grandfather. George idealizes his grandfather, a World War II veteran, and dutifully attends every Veteran’s day ceremony with his granddad. On this one particular veteran’s day, his granddad decides that they should sail out to the small island that George’s grandmother is buried on, so his grandfather can show her his war medals. The two head out on the water, despite the threat of bad weather, and set off to the island. While there, George learns lessons about the culture of Newfoundland, and the importance of treating other people well. His grandfather reminds Georges that name-calling is not just sticks and stones – names do hurt. On their way home, George and his grandfather are trapped by bad weather and ice flows, and in order to get home a large sacrifice must be made. The two forms of illustration in The Killick include paintings that reflect the mood of the verbal text and inset black and white line drawings that provide commentary on the historical context of the story. Dark and somewhat muted, the illustrations symbolize the approaching storm, the grandfather's experiences, and the somber reflections of a community honouring their veterans.



"His grandfather wants to talk: “I’ve been thinking, George. When it’s my time to go, I want you to use a killick for my tombstone. Put it beside my wife’s stone. It’s a proper marking for an old fisherman. Besides, a killick’s made of sticks and stones. That wreath you laid for all the innocent victims of war, I’d like the killick to commemorate them, too, all those nameless people that were called names." (28)