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Children's Fiction Post-confederation (1867-)

Explosion Newsie

by (author) Jacqueline Halsey

illustrated by Loretta Migani

Formac Publishing Company Limited
Initial publish date
Oct 2015
Post-Confederation (1867-), General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2015
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 9
  • Grade: p to 4


On December 6, 1917, two ships collided in the busy wartime harbour of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The resulting explosion was the biggest man-made blast prior to the development of nuclear weapons. It flattened one fifth of the city. Thousands of people were killed that day and thousands more injured or made homeless. One lucky survivor, ten-year-old newsie Macky, has a key job to do -- get the news out.

The beautiful and compelling illustrations in this book help tell the story of what it was like to be a working child of ten in the city that day. Macky, an unreliable and fun-loving boy, has to deliver the news to a confused and wrecked city where the only way to know what happened to missing loved ones was to read the local newspaper.

This story is based on the real experiences of young boys who worked as paperboys in the 1900s. Jacqueline Halsey has woven a wonderful story, which conveys the value of the work of young people in a compelling real-life setting.


About the authors

For Jacqueline Halsey, growing up in post war London meant walking to school past numerous bombsites and listening to her mother's stories about food rationing and air raids. Consequently, she always admired the courage of women and children coping with the tasks of everyday life in wartime situations. This courage inspired Peggy's Letters, Jacqueline's first book.

After High School she went to art college in Worthing, Sussex and then much later obtained a BA degree at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, which she attended as a mature student.

Jacqueline loves traveling and has visited many countries, including South Africa where she lived in a sugar mill village for four years.
She currently works in the Alderney Gate library in Halifax. Her days are filled with books, rhymes, puppets and lots of children to share them with. Jacqueline lives with her husband Ray, her granddaughter Ashlee, two cats and a very old goldfish in a house by a lake in Nova Scotia - a very different place from Peggy's war torn neighborhood. She is part of the Writer's Federation of Nova Scotia's 'Writer's in the School Program.' Her visits to schools are booked through them.

Jacqueline has a web page on the Writer's Federation of Nova Scotia website:
Peggy's Letters (Oct 2005) published by Orca Books.
Nominated for: Hackmatack 2007 Children's Choice award; Rocky Mountain 2007 Children's Choice award; Silver Birch (Express) 2007 Children's Choice award; Woozle's Battle of the Books 2007 list

The Gran Plan
Placed third in the 2003 Atlantic Writing Competition/ Joyce Barkhouse award for Children's Literature. (Un published manuscripts) Subsequently, it was published (Fall 2006) by Scholastic as part of their Literacy Place for the Early Years school reading program.

Jacqueline Halsey's profile page

LORETTA MIGANI is an artist living in Nova Scotia. Born in Southport, England, she attended Queensland College of Art in Australia. She teaches at NSCAD University in Halifax. Loretta works primarily in oils and sculpture. This is her first book.

Loretta Migani's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"The story and illustrations together create a compelling portrait of the time period: what life was like for a boy whose father was overseas and whose older brother had to work in a factory... Grim without being too graphic for its intended audience, the tender reunion at the end helps it to remain a heartwarming historical tale that is based on true events."

Atlantic Books Today

"Halsey is quite successful at turning a historical moment into a captivating story, one that will appeal the most to young school-aged children. The illustrations in Explosion Newsie are realistic and detailed. Migani excels at depicting facial expressions and action scenes; the reader can almost feel how cold it is outside! The illustrations complement the text well, and both work together to provide the reader with a realistic and compelling story. Highly Recommended"

CM Magazine

"Great for a classroom library, history lovers, older class/student, read-aloud, differentiation in older History classes. The book could be used to support several reading comprehension strategies: Making Prediction, Making Commections, and Inferring."

Canadian Teachers Magazine

"This story would be a welcome addition to any public or school library in Canada because it shows the events of the Halifax Explosion through the eyes of a nine year old boy; much as it would have happened during that time period."

<em>Resource Links</em>

Other titles by Jacqueline Halsey