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Jean Johnston.

Ottawa, Borealis Press, c1981.
88pp, paper, $9.95.
ISBN 0-88887-027-2.

Grades 5-8.
Reviewed by Nancy E. Black.

Volume 11 Number 2.
1983 March.

Jean Johnston has written a fast-paced novel set during the rebellion of 1837 in southern Ontario. The reader follows the adventures of the Barlow family, who have emigrated from England and first settled in Toronto where John Barlow works with Egerton Ryerson's newspaper The Christian Guardian. After a few months, they travel, with difficulty, through heavy bush to a town near Wood-stock. Leaving Patience Barlow with friends, John and Rob set out to buy land, either from Colonel Talbot or "Tiger" Dunlop. After finding land near Stratford, the family spends the rest of the summer and fall preparing for winter.

In November, John takes his son to Toronto to arrange schooling. While in Toronto, Rob and his friend Sam inadvertently overhear plans for the 1837 uprising and become involved as messengers. This innocent act implicates John who is jailed for his "crimes." Rob is unhappily sent on to grammar school near Dundas, but worry for his mother impels him to leave school and walk home. The following fall, John is released and returns to his family.

The story has some flaws: an unappealing cover and title, an unbelievable incident when Rob is locked in the "dungeons" of Dundurn Castle, and his long walk home from school. As well, the author uses "Stratford" interchangeably with its original name, "Little Thames." Since the town was renamed in 1831, consistent use of "Stratford" would have been preferable. It is, however, well researched and realistically portrays the historical setting.

Nancy E. Black, Dartmouth R. L., Dartmouth, NS.
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