Catch Me Once, Catch Me Twice.
Grades 6 - 8 / Ages 11 - 13.
The afternoon dragged on until it was finally time to go home. By now, the sun was gone behind a featureless blanket of grey clouds and fog had rolled in off the sea. Two girls from Ev's class, Letitia Winsor and Doris Piercy, waited for her. They both came from what Ev's grandmother called "good families," meaning, as far as Ev could tell, that their fathers made a lot of money. Ev knew them mainly because their grandmothers were friends of Ev's grandmother. On Saturdays, the three girls worked at the Women's Patriotic Association to- gether, packing wool for women in outports who were knitting for servicemen. Ev knew that she was supposed to feel grateful to Letty and Doris for their friendship. Somehow, she never did.
Evelyn and her pregnant mother arrive in St. John's, Newfoundland, from an outport community to stay with her grandparents while her father is gone to fight in World War Two. Things are difficult for Evelyn. Her mother is not well, she misses her father and her home, and her grandmother seems cold and unfeeling. Gradually Ev makes friends with Peter, a classmate her grandmother disapproves of as coming from "the wrong side of the tracks." She also comes to know Peter's grandmother who is a midwife called in to see Ev's mother; an elderly fisherman who is teaching Peter how to build boats; and the outport girl, who is her grand- parents' hired girl.
These characters allow the author to weave many strands into her story and to paint a vivid picture of life in St. John's during World War Two. McNaughton also includes wonderful physical discriptions of the Battery, Signal Hill, and the "better" residential area where Ev's grandparents live. (As an aside, this reviewer lived in Newfoundland for 5 years and found the descriptions of St. John's did a wonderful job of transporting her back there.)
The only strand in the story that I found slightly problematic was the one dealing with fairies. I do not doubt that there was still some of the stereotypical Irish belief in fairies in Newfoundland 55 years ago, but Ev and Peter's first experience at the spring house takes the novel into the realm of fantasy - something that is not sustained by the remainder of the novel.
This is a very well-written and entertaining book which should be enjoyed by both girls and boys who like adventure and historical novels.
Irene Gordon is a teacher-librarian at Westdale Junior High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and currently co-editor of the MSLA Journal published by the Manitoba School Library Association.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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