________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 11 . . . . February 3, 2006


The Long White Scarf.

Maxine Trottier. Illustrated by David Craig.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2005.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55005-147-4.

Subject Heading:

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Reesa Cohen.

**** /4

Trottier's expansive imagination and talent at crafting a delightful story shines brightly in this picture book. Setting her book in Victorian England, she weaves a tapestry of historical facts, fascinating people and serendipity occurrences all held together by a special white scarf originally belonging to a young Princess Victoria.

The princess rode with her mother in an open coach. A cool breeze raced along the banks of the River Thames and up the busy cobbled streets. It whirled around the coach and whipped the scarf from the Princess's neck.

"Mamma!" cried the princess as she grabbed for her scarf.

"Now, Victoria," said her mother with a laugh, "It is only a scarf." And she settled herself in the carriage, looking very regal. Victoria watched the scarf drift through the air and drop onto the river. It was gone.

     The engaging narrative flows smoothly as readers are transported to a different time and place, drifting along with the scarf as it passes through the hands of different owners, touching each and even changing their lives. It is an intriguing tale that allows readers to become connected to the believable characters and their experiences, enveloped by this magical scarf, which, through fascinating circumstances, finds its way back many years later, to the original owner, now Queen of England.

internal art

     In Beth's care, the second owner, the scarf comes to have a special meaning not only to her, but to other members of her family, like seeing her brother William through the war. Years would pass and "Out it would come to be arranged over the shoulders of a joyful bride or draped in honour over the coffin of a loved one."

     In the hands of this gifted writer, the characters and setting are brought to life, with beautiful imagery and descriptive language.

     The brilliantly detailed and richly coloured illustrations capture the pomp and majesty of the times. Craig's beautifully rendered oil paintings on canvass could be stand-alone portraits or scenes of that period in time, worthy of a gallery showing. They are well-suited to the text, adding a remarkable layer of historical significance. The charming cottage and vivid street scenes glow and illuminate the story. The war scenes are intense, dramatic paintings that serve the narrative so well.

     Trottier includes an Historical Note at the end regarding "The Queen's Scarf of Honour" which was presented to soldiers in the Commonwealth who had distinguished themselves in battle. It was this scarf which became the inspiration for the story.

Highly Recommended.

Reesa Cohen is an Instructor of Children's Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.


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

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