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Doerksen, Nan.

Illustrated by Bill Johnson, Charlotte-town, Ragweed Press, cl986. 72pp, paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-920304-55-9, CIP

Grades 5 and up
Reviewed by Janice Foster

Volume 15 Number 1
1987 January

Rats in the Sloop is a Canadian historical novel set in New Brunswick in the early 1800s, Sent to live with her aunt in Fredericton after the death of her mother, ten-year-old Margaret is faced with a dilemma. She has promised her mother to care for her younger brother, Johnny, but her father's will stated that he was to be sent to live with an uncle in England, Together they plan to have Johnny stow away on the sloop that will take Meg to Fredericton. Upon their arrival, their Aunt Ann and Uncle David take them into their home and allow Johnny to stay until the New Year. A charming story follows about the children's daily lives and adventures in their new home. The book concludes with a special Christmas treat for Johnny.

In this novel the author provides the reader with a seemingly accurate account of life in historical New Brunswick. Although Rats in the Sloop is aimed at a children's audience, the literary style and vocabulary is at more of an adult level. Consequently, it might not be readily chosen by a child unless prompted or prescribed by an adult. The book could be useful in a novel study integrated with a social studies program. Also, the title and cover illustration are misleading as they deal with an isolated incident that occurs in the first chapter, but has no real bearing on the story. It is unfortunate that this novel, although well-written, will likely have limited appeal to its intended readers.

Janice Foster, Cecil Rhodes E.S., Winnipeg, Man.
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