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Mamchur, Carolyn Marie with Meguido Zola
Illustrated by Anne Hanley
Winnipeg, Pemmican Publications, 1993.
unpaged, paper, $9.95, IS BN 0-921827-31-8. CIP

Subject Heading:
Métis-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9

Reviewed by Norma Charles

Volume 22 Number 1
1994 January / February

When Joyce's grandmother dies, she leaves Joyce only a knotted handkerchief bordered with blue forget-me-nots. At first, Joyce is angry and jealous of her brother, who got her grandmother's coin collection, and her sister, who got her big collection of scarves. It appears that although Joyce and her grandmother shared a deep love for growing things, Joyce was forgotten.

One night when Joyce is missing her grandmother more than she can stand, she pulls out the handkerchief and discovers that it is filled with hundreds of tiny seeds. She decides to plant a garden like her grandmother's, although her own backyard is full of couch grass and cars that won't go. Her mother warns her that it'll be a waste of time; they'll probably have to move at the end of the summer anyway when her father gets laid off. But Joyce persists. In her struggles to prepare the yard for a garden, she is joined by her neighbour, and then by her mother. Toiling in the garden, she feels close to her grandmother again and seems to work through the grief at her death.

The story, which is told in the first person in the vernacular of the prairie metis, shows how one young girl's courage and hard work are applauded by her own family, by the community, and, in the end, by herself. This family's sometimes difficult life is sensitively drawn.

Like the text, the full-colour Illustrations do not attempt to "prettify" the characters or their environment. Although the illustrations are somewhat uneven--for example, the main character looks too old in some pictures -- they generally give an honest portrayal of the life of a city-dwelling metis family.

I would recommend this title for purchase not only to add to a multicultural collection, but also as a plain good read for ages seven to nine.

Norma Charles is a teacher-librarian at Henderson Annex School in Vancouver, British Columbia

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