CANADIAN BRAIN DRAIN AN AMERICAN GAIN
Canadian Gardening Character Heads South
Toronto and Calgary, 27 March 2012—Canadian gardening personalities Steven Biggs and Donna Balzer are sending Guff to the USA.
It wasn’t a hard choice to send Guff packing, not with the reaction he’s caused. That reaction has been overwhelmingly positive—like the time someone stopped Balzer on the street and said, “Your book changed my life!” That book, No Guff Vegetable Gardening, is the wacky Canadian book that is home to Guff.
The book—graphic novel meets gardening—brings together the gardening perspectives of two very different Canadian horticulturists: boy and girl; east and west; and Gen Xer and boomer. But they’re not alone: Guff, the chief antagonist, is a curmudgeonly third “expert” with silly advice that Biggs and Balzer discuss.
The reaction to the book in Canada has been so positive (it’s now in its second printing) that Balzer and Biggs are collaborating with American garden publisher St. Lynn’s Press to take it—and Guff—to an American audience.
The authors think the conversational coaches’ corner approach makes gardening a lot more fun. They’re not alone: Toronto Star reviewer Peggy Mackenzie says, “Energy emanates from this book, which seems odd since it’s about growing vegetables.” It helps that there are lots of fun anecdotes, such as Biggs’ stories about making parsnip wine or washing carrots in the washing machine.
"Occasionally in a librarian’s life … a book will arrive that causes immediate bibliomania. A book that is so different, so appealing, and upon reading it, so completely perfect, that it must be shown with great excitement to everyone who loves books," says Susan Yates for the Gabriola Sounder.