Thursday, November 17, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [kids]


Ghost Messages, by Jacqueline Guest, 176 pages.

The year is 1865. At 13 years of age, Ailish O’Connor is already a fortune-teller. She and her father travel from place to place in Ireland and earn a living with her prophecies of the future, which are surprisingly accurate. Ailish has the gift of second sight.
Tragedy strikes suddenly one night in an Irish seaport when Ailish awakes to the sounds of vicious blows. In the second room that they have rented for the night, she finds her father beaten and dying, their savings stolen. Ailish is certain that a newly-met acquaintance of her father is responsible.
The next day, through a series of circumstances, Ailish becomes trapped on a high liner, the Great Eastern, as it casts off from Ireland on its historic voyage to lay the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable.
The sailors on the Great Eastern are superstitious and Ailish must pretend to be a boy so that they won’t toss her into the sea. When she discovers that her father’s murderer, a dangerous and brutal man, is also aboard the ship, she knows that she must be doubly sure to keep her disguise – as well as her wits and courage – if she is to complete the long voyage and reach Newfoundland alive.
Posing as a cabin boy, Ailish sometimes receives help from a mysterious young boy named “Davy”, who never comes up on deck – yet seems to know everything about the ship. They become close friends. Later, she discovers that none of the ship’s crew have ever seen or heard of the boy. Could he be a ghost from the past?
This suspenseful story is very believable, and will “hook” readers as it brings to life a significant event in world history – the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. Readers will cheer for Ailish, a brave, resourceful and likeable heroine.
** Recommended for ages 9 to 13 years.
** This book is nominated for the 2012 Silver Birch Award in the Forest of Reading

Hoping for Home: Stories of Arrival, a “Dear Canada” book; stories written by various authors, 242 pages.

Dedicated to “all who have forged a home in Canada”, Hoping for Home celebrates the people who have arrived here over the years to make a new home, searching for freedom or for a better life, braving the many challenges of moving to a different country. Eleven short stories, based on history, have been written for this anthology by well-known Canadian children’s authors such as Jean Little, Paul Yee and Kit Pearson.
Readers will meet boys and girls who arrive in various Canadian locations at different times in our history. Some have immigrated with their families, but others are not so lucky. Verity is a war guest from England, sent by her parents to Canada for her own safety during the Blitz of World War II. She is now in Toronto, adjusting to a new school and trying to make new friends. Zayd and his family have left Pakistan in the 1960’s to make a better life in Hamilton. He also is adjusting to a new school and trying to make new friends. Harriet is one of the approximately 100,000 Home Children arriving in Canada in the 19thand early 20 century without their parents. Her new home is in Peterborough. Wong-Joe has just reached Tybalt, Saskatchewan after a long journey across the Pacific Ocean, British Columbia and Alberta. He will be helping his father run his busy makeshift café there. The year is 1921.
Each story is told in the first person, as a letter or an entry in a diary or journal.
Hoping for Home is one of the titles in the popular “Dear Canada” series for girls; however, this book would be enjoyed by both boys and girls.
** Recommended for ages 8 to 12 years.

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

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