Volume 11 Number 5.
Set on the prairies in the 1930s, Meguido Zola's Moving recounts the events leading to the founding of a Hutterite colony. Whenever a parent colony became too large, it literally divided itself (people, livestock, machinery, equipment, stores), into two groups. The name of each group was placed in a hat, and the group whose name was drawn was sent away to start a new colony. Ten-year-old Beckie tells the story of her colony's preparations for one of these moves. Through her eyes we catch glimpses of life at Elm spring and thereby hints of the underlying religious beliefs: a young people's evening singsong held in the middle of the fields, as a harmonica is not allowed on the colony; church in the tiny schoolhouse with men and boys on one side, women and girls on the other.
Custom, ritual and, above all else, God's will order the Hutterites' lives and have done so for hundreds of year&. However, Beckie finds nothing but pain in the ordained move. She must leave behind her favourite play spots (a tall, old elm, the lake with the ducks) and numerous girl-friends. More upsetting is the fact that she must abandon "Rachel's place," the grave of her sister, killed when thrown from a horse a few years earlier. Fortunately, Mary, the old preacher's gentle wife, senses Beckie's despair and helps her understand the necessity, the Tightness of the move. Comforted by the fact that Mary will remain to safeguard the memory of Rachel, Beckie sets off with her family, filled with hope for life at the new colony of Sunnyside.
While the book can obviously be used as part of an elementary social studies unit dealing with families and/or communities (particularly appropriate for British Columbia teachers in light of the recently released Grade One - Grade Seven Social Studies Curriculum Guide), it could also serve as a valuable resource for such inter-related and emotionally charged topics as death and moving. Beckie's resolution of the frustration over having to leave behind familiar places and close friends and her acceptance of the changes that life brings are handled in a sensitive fashion, readily understandable by elementary school children whether they approach these issues individually or through group discussion.
The work is one of Julia MacRae's Blackbird Books, intended, according to the publisher, for grades K-3. Application of the extended Fry Graph yielded an approximate readability level of 3.5. Victoria Cooper's unpretentious black-and-white illustrations nicely capture the simplicity of the Hutterite way of life. Finally, the skilful juxtaposition of drawings and test results in each reinforcing the other admirably. Recommended for elementary school and public libraries.
Patrick Dunn, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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