On Thursday, February 14, the Wilfred Oram Centennial Library in North Sydney will host the launch of a new novel called Little One, published by Breton Books. Written by North Sydney’s own Phil Organ, Little One is a rare book about a brave and intelligent ant and her discovery of the wider world.
Little One is a book to be read by people of all ages. Younger readers will be captured by Little One’s inquisitiveness, kindness and daring generosity. The adult readers will be challenged by the unique ideas that come to Little One as she considers her anthill society and realizes there is more to the world than regimentation and war. The invasions of the ant colony by the centipede and the partridge, and Little One’s discovery of the light outside the anthill, will thrill readers of all ages.
A moment of compassion in the anthill meant that Little One, although a runt, would be allowed to live — and hers turned out to be a life of new ideas that challenged the ant colony’s traditional world. Little One demonstrates enormous integrity and commitment to her colony, but eventually, with courage and curiosity, she dares to live out her own vision. Entranced by glimpses of the sun and moon, she struggles to compare ant lore with the beauty she recognizes around her. Even the menacing Furry One turns out to be gentle. So how can she reconcile the cruelty of the hunt with her awareness of the value of life — even the tiniest of lives?
Publisher Ron Caplan says that “Phil Organ has written a beautiful novel, a difficult story to classify.” It has been lovingly described as “Watership Down meets Charlotte’s Web.” Caplan points out that while Little One is about an ant’s adventures in her colony and her discovery of the wider world, it is certainly not just a children’s book. Chapter by chapter, Organ holds up a compelling and often disturbing mirror to the way we humans live. And the book called Little One possesses kernels of terror, and kernels of exquisite light.
Born and raised in North Sydney, Phil Organ came from a home that did not see many books. But from the time he could read, Phil read everything. He read Mark Twain “from top to bottom…. Twain wrote a lot more than the boy stories such as Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He wrote fables about the leaping frog and blue jays, taking a special interest in human foibles.”
A labourer all his life, Phil Organ went wherever work was available. He was always more at ease in construction, working as a pipe fitter. “The bigger the pipe the better.” He returned to Cape Breton after service in the Korean War.
“That opened my eyes. It was like Cape Breton was new again. I was seeing a different world, and I was inspired to write and to paint.” With some friends, he got a cabin in Middle River. And that’s where the novel called Little One was born.
Everyone is invited to the Valentine’s Day book launch of Little One. Former mayor and school principal David MacDonald will introduce Phil Organ and Little One, and Organ will give a reading from his book. There will be light refreshments of punch, coffee, tea and cookies. The party starts at 4 pm at the Wilfred Oram Centennial Library, Commercial Street, North Sydney.
Little One is a 124-page quality paperback, distributed in Cape Breton by Breton Books and across Canada by Nimbus Publishing. It can be ordered at capebretonbooks.com.