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Little Yellow House

Book Club Notes
November 30, 2018


The 2019 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize

What people are saying

Halton clearly delights in interacting with people from all walks of life; her interest and empathy sparkle throughout. Her tone is factual, nonjudgmental, and often wryly funny. Little Yellow House is a balanced presentation of a diverse community in transition, complete with faults and growing pains... Little Yellow House shows how real, sustainable community development can be built with a formula of persistent action, engagement with a wide group of allies, trust, layers of incremental successes, and a good sense of humor.

Foreword Magazine USA, September/October 2018

It's an illuminating and hopeful book that asks readers to think again about what makes places liveable, and also provides a wonderful glimpse of Jane Jacobs' proverbial sidewalk ballet.

49th shelf

Great cities and neighbourhoods are containers for stories, just like this book is, and every one of these is delightfully readable and well-written right down to the sentence level. And Halton is not afraid of tension, of ambiguity and uncertainty, something living in the city teaches you, and so each of these stories is suspended in a careful place, not neatly packaged or simply concluded. Which gives their culmination the effect of a walk through a city street, of glimpses, moments, and changing scenes—a most satisfying and delightful excursion.

Kerry Clare, Author of Mitzi Bytes

This book is an excellent resource for communities wanting to create change. It can also be a starting point for discussion with students in professional programs—nursing, social work, public health—and academic disciplines, such as sociology and anthropology, to focus on identifying Who are the vulnerable? Who gets to decide that they’re vulnerable? and What community-based solutions honour lifestyle choices? Little Yellow House shows readers there are ways of working and living together that really do respect diversity. I loved this book.

Judith Kulig, Alberta Views Magazine

An extended love note to a notorious neighbourhood.


ourteen years ago my husband and I bought a fixer-upper in an inner city neighbourhood where my grandparents grew up. The streets had changed since they were young and over the past four decades as its house prices declined, its drug crimes and sex trade statistics increased. We overlooked both statistics as we were motivated by affordable house prices, close proximity to our work and diversity, however our decision baffled many. Acquaintances frequently asked, “Why do you live there?” My answer was to write Little Yellow House: Finding Community in a Changing Neighbourhood. It is a series of poignant and honest stories that introduce readers to my neighbours— cat rescuers and murder victims, community activists and sex workers. Each one helped me discover the beauty, tragedy and power of compassion in my notorious neighbourhood.

Our oldest neighbourhoods and their diverse array of residents spanning class and culture have much to teach us about our societies’ greatest weaknesses and strengths. The essays in Little Yellow House reflect on what makes our neighbourhoods thrive. Readers, no matter where they live, will be inspired to take a more active and compassionate role in making their communities more safe, just, and inclusive.

I am grateful for support from the Edmonton Arts Council.

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