________________ CM . . . . Volume X Number 9 . . . . January 2, 2004

cover

Marie-Claire: Visitors. (Our Canadian Girl).

Kathy Stinson.
Toronto, ON: Penguin Canada, 2003.
90 pp., pbk., $8.99.
ISBN 0-14-301485-4.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Kristin Butcher.

*** /4

excerpt:

When Marie-Claire regained consciousness, she felt herself being jostled as if in a carriage. Clip-clop-clip-clop-clip-clop. She opened here eyes. She was in a carriage, and wrapped in fur.

She must be dreaming.

But her head would not throb so in a dream. In a dream, her wrist would not send pain shooting up her arm and down her fingers.

“Surely, John, we can get our own doctor to tend to her?”

And in what kind of dream would she be lying with her head in the lap of an English-speaking woman?

The Marie-Claire books of Penguin’s “Our Canadian Girl” series focus on ten-year-old Marie-Claire and the day-to-day life of her French Canadian family. The 1885 Montreal smallpox epidemic is a major element of the first two novels, but in Book Three Stinson moves onto other pressing matters – namely societal mores and conflicts.

     The novel is entitled Visitors, and the reader’s initial assumption is that the visitors being referred to are Madame and Monsieur Lintreau and their three children. They have been staying with Marie-Claire’s family since their own home was destroyed in a fire, and the pressure of close quarters is taking its toll on Marie-Claire. Overcrowding, overwork, and lack of privacy have her harboring less than hospitable thoughts about the guests, and though she knows Maman would not approve, she secretly takes steps to find the Lintreaus another home.

     In the process, she is nearly run down by a carriage belonging to a wealthy couple who take her to their home to treat her injuries. It is at this point that Marie-Claire becomes a visitor herself and learns what it is like to have the shoe on the other foot. Not only is she introduced to a lifestyle she never knew existed, but she is forced to rethink some of her prejudices about English-speaking people.

     Visitors is an enjoyable read. Youngsters following the series will not be disappointed. Feisty as ever, Marie-Claire barrels into life, waging a constant – though not always successful – battle with her fiery temper.

Recommended.

Kristin Butcher lives in Victoria, BC, and writes for children.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright 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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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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