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Irma McDonough Milnes
Toronto, Annick Pre ss, 1994. 80pp, paper,
$5.95, ISBN 1-55037-356-0.
Distributed by Firefly Books. CIP

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10

Reviewed by Jane Smith

Volume 22 Number 4
1994 September

Irma McDonough Milnes was coordinator of Children's Library Services in the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Recreation and is past president of the Ontario Library Association and of the Canadian Children's Book Centre. She has spoken at universities, libraries and conferences on Canadian children's literature.

Kaarina and the Sugar Bag Vest reads like a girl's diary--giving us litte snips of Kaarina's life during the 1930s. She tells of special Finnish traditions of her family, such as Saturday night at the sauna, gymnastics at the Finnish Hall, Sunday dinners of herring casserole and hardtack. The devastation caused by the Great Depression is seen in the hoboes hiding in freight cars and having sandwiches at the door, Dad losing his job and the family forced to move to the grandparents' home hundred of miles a way, Grandpa letting go the eight professional tailors who worked for him, etc. Kaarina tells of important events in her everyday life, like her five-cent allowance, the death of a child, flowers for Mother's birthday, the measles, school spelling bees, a new dog.

This is a warm, quiet sitting on grandma's knee and asking her about her life when she was a child book. The strength and importance of a warm and caring family shine through the pages. I do feel, however, that it will appeal to a rather limited audience and therefore recommend it for optional purchase.

Jane Smith is a former Primary teacher in North York, Ontario

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