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Davies, Joan.

Saskatoon. Western Producer Prairie Books, c1984. 123pp, paper, $11.95, ISBN 0. 88833-133-9. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Elaine Atwood

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

When Joan Davies was eight years old, her parents left their Saskatchewan farm in the midst of the Depression to return to Sheffield, England. Joan recalls her childhood through the war years as a time of boredom: no school, no friends, her parents always busy trying to run a small grocery store. Only in retrospect does she become aware of how difficult times were. Underlying the story, with its varied wartime characters, is the deep conflict between her mother, who likes the hustle and bustle of her shop, and her father, who is deeply attached to his deserted Saskatchewan farm.

Joan, the middle child, is restless and finds all kinds of adventures to keep her occupied. On one level, this is a children's story, although too difficult for eight-year-olds to read. On another level, this is a story of the hold of the land on people, with which many adults will identify. Finally, there is a clear picture of England during World War II and the effects of the war on day-to-day life. The author is particularly effective in showing how children living in war do not expect life to be any better.

The author's style is easy to read, conversational. Family photographs in the centre of the book lend authenticity to the autobiography. Written at an upper elementary/junior high reading level, this book may need some promotion with children this age as it is not a topic they will readily pursue. Adults will enjoy it. It has both local history and wartime history value.

Elaine Atwood, St. Albert P.L., St. Albert, Alta.
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