TYNE VALLEY — There’s no doubt in Dustin Milligan’s mind just how much the people of Tyne Valley love oysters.
Oysters are the focus of the community’s annual weeklong festival and, now, a children’s book penned by the Tyne Valley native.
Milligan is launching his children’s book, “The Village That Loves Oysters,” this Friday in conjunction with the Tyne Valley Oyster Festival’s 50th anniversary.
The book, with illustrations by Meredith Luce, who collaborated with Milligan on another series, is filled with rhyming verse about the community and its obsession with the Malpeque bivalve molluscs.
“The villagers eat oysters for breakfast and dinner and lunch, and on hot summer days they drink oyster-laced punch” is an excerpt from the book.
“I’ve always enjoyed creative writing. I always kind of dabbled in it my entire life. It kind of came naturally,” said the 29-year-old Toronto lawyer and author of a series of children’s books on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“A couple of years ago I was just thinking about the 50th anniversary of the Tyne Valley Oyster Festival and what I could contribute. I just kind of came up with the idea of writing a children’s picture book to kind of celebrate the occasion.”
Inspiration came while on a walk two summers ago.
“I thought of a little rhyme and just expanded upon it.”
Milligan penned a draft and then contacted P.E.I. 2014 to acquire funding to hire an illustrator and was successful in securing $2,000.
Next, he contacted Terri-Lee Bulger with Acorn Press in Charlottetown, who immediately agreed to be part of the project.
Milligan, who arrived back on the Island Monday morning, has yet to see a copy of the finished book, which will be available online at Amazon, Indigo and in various stores across the Island, including Coles and Avonlea Books in Summerside.
“It is rhyme that talks about a community that is obsessed with Malpeque oysters,” said Milligan, who then quotes from the book. “There is a small village, on a wee isle. From beginning to end it’s barely a mile. It has four hills, a river, a tiny back alley, and a sign that greets folks, Welcome to Tyne Valley.”
The book goes on, in poetic verse, to talk about how the craze surrounding the oyster peaks when it comes time for the Tyne Valley Oyster Festival.
“It is all very, very exaggerated about a community that is just obsessed with oysters.”
Milligan admitted he also has a fondness for the Malpeque oyster and recalled volunteering from an early age at the annual festival.
“I always attend the oyster shucking championship on the Friday night. I love the parade and the dance and oyster suppers,” he added. “It’s always been close to my heart. What’s nice about the oyster festival is that it becomes a homecoming for lots of people from Tyne Valley. They will aim to come home during the summer for that week. It’s a really nice opportunity for people who moved away to see everyone they grew up with.”
The book launch takes place at 8 p.m. Friday at the Tyne Valley Arena just before the start of the annual Canadian Oyster Shucking Championships. There will also be a reading at Kid’s Day earlier that same day at 2 p.m. at Ellerslie Elementary School.
Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Tyne Valley Public Library, a place, said Milligan, he spent many days as a youngster.
For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page —https://www.facebook.com/events/341976849282638/.