Thursday, August 18, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

These reviews appeared in the Stratford Gazette on August 17th. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

Migrant, by Maxine Trottier, 32 pages.

@SPL: JP Trott

“What would it be like to be a tree with roots sunk deeply into the earth – to watch the seasons passing around you the same way the wind passes through your branches?”
Anna wonders, longingly, what it would be like to have a permanent home, like a tree. Instead, her family is a migrant family, moving north each spring to work on fruit and vegetable farms in Ontario, and departing for Mexico again in the fall. Sometimes Anna feels like a migrating bird, chasing the sun and following the warmth. Sometimes she feels like a jackrabbit living in one abandoned burrow after another, as her family moves into yet another empty farmhouse near the fields where they are working. She longs to stay in one place, in her own bed, riding her own bicycle, playing with her own friends and hearing her own language spoken around her.
Maxine Trottier’s poignant picture book, with its whimsical art, is a tribute to the seasonal farm workers who come to Canada each summer to supply much-needed labour. Some arrive with their families; some must leave them behind. Anna’s family is a low German-speaking Mennonite family from Mexico. In the 1920’s, many such families moved to Mexico to farm and pursue religious freedom. Later, with tough economic times, they found that their own farms couldn’t support them.
The author was inspired to write this story after spending summers in Leamington, Ontario, where she encountered many Mennonites from Mexico working under difficult conditions. For example, they sometimes live in small, shabby houses, often work very long hours, and sometimes lack proper medical attention while they are in Canada.
** Recommended for ages 5 to 9 years.

Missing, by Becky Citra, 178 pages.
@SPL: J FIC Citra
Too many things are missing from Thea’s life right now. She and her father miss her mother, who died four years ago. Thea misses having a real home – she and her dad are always moving now, from one British Columbia town to another, “trying to leave the past behind.” They never remain in a community long enough for Thea to establish friendships and a sense of home. Thea feels the loss of the close companionship she used to have with her dad before the tragedy, and she misses riding the horses which used to be so much a part of the family’s life before her mom was killed by an out-of-control horse.
Now her dad has another temporary job – this time, at a new resort ranch on Gumboot Lake. From their arrival, Thea loves the ranch. She hopes that they might stay there, working with Renegade, an injured horse for which Thea is helping to care. She starts to make friends, like Van, a local boy, and Chloe. She even starts to feel that she is fitting in at school. Then Thea discovers that a mysterious tragedy happened long ago on the ranch, under former owners. She is intrigued – as is Van, whose grandfather was implicated. They begin to work together to clear his name and solve the mystery, and before long, Thea realizes that she has put down roots on the ranch. She cares very much about its future, about Renegade, about Van and his family, and about finding the answers to the mystery.
Can Thea somehow convince her dad that it’s time to settle down, at Gumboot Lake, instead of moving on once again?
This quiet, compelling story, involving a very likeable heroine, perfect for a summer read, was written by Canadian author Becky Citra.
** Recommended for ages 10 to 13 years.

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