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Helen Caister Robinson.

Toronto, Dundurn Press, c1981.
240pp, paper, $16.50 (cloth), $7.75 (paper).
ISBN 0-919670-52-0 (cloth), 0-919670-53-9 (paper).

Grades 7-9.
Reviewed by Paul E. Blower.

Volume 10 Number 4.
1982 November.

For most Canadians, the name Laura Secord conjures up first, chocolates, and secondly, the doughty Upper Canadian pioneer who warned our side of imminent American attack during the War of 1812.

For Robinson, the courage and heroism of Laura Secord still have considerable appeal, despite the doubts cast on the legend by decades of historians. In this work of historical recreation, she reminds a new generation of how Laura overhears American soldiers billeted in her Queenston home talk of attacking British headquarters near Beaver Dams (about seventeen miles from Fort George) and then walks twenty difficult miles to warn a grateful Lieutenant Fitzgibbon. The Americans are justifiably routed shortly thereafter. There is no cow.

This is essentially a cradle-to-grave biography of Laura Secord incorporating a certain amount of useful information about the developing Upper Canadian community: trade, transportation, food, clothing, quilting bees, potash making. There are a few black-and-white photographs and maps and a short bibliography.

There is also, however, a great deal of padding involving descriptions of births, marriages, and deaths. The courtship scenes are redolent of Harlequin Romances. Dialogue is often just as unrealistic. Laura's husband James, laid up by war wounds, complains: "The hours pass so slowly when a man is incapacitated and alone, with only angry thoughts for company." Laura herself is rather too good to be true. She never complains.

Frankly, intermediate-age readers would probably be better off with the non-fiction Laura found in Ruth McKenzie's Laura Secord: The Legend and the Lady (McClelland and Stewart, 1971).

Paul E. Blower, Sault Ste. Marie P. L., Sault Ste. Marie, ON.
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