________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 21 . . . . June 23, 2006


Meyers' Rebellion.

Connie Brummel Crook.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2006.
279 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 1-55041-943-9.

Subject Headings:
Canada-History-Rebellion, 1837-1838-Juvenile fiction.
United Empire loyalists-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

*** /4


John looked at Clancy. Then he looked at Gibson. Did they think he was some sort of fool? It was getting more and more obvious that George was mixed up with some rebellion business.

For their part, Clancy and Gibson looked at each other the way his parents did sometimes—as if they were trying to figure out how to tell him something they didn't want to.

“Well, since you're in the middle of all of this now…” Gibson said very carefully. Then he stopped himself. “But first, let's decide how we're going to get George out of trouble.”

“Oh, don't worry, sir,” said John, as coldly as he could. “I'll go and get him out of jail. Just tell me where it is.”

“I'm afraid it's no job for a boy,” said Mr. Gibson.

Connie Brummel Crook knows how to tell a good story. She would be a wonderful person to have in the family because of the skilled manner in which she takes her family history and crafts it into an exciting, informative read. Meyers' Rebellion is the third historical fiction novel in a series of books detailing Crook's family history. In Flight, Crook detailed the activities of her great, great, great, great, great grandfather, Hans Waltermyer—later known as John Meyers—fighting as a Loyalist during the American Revolution. In the sequel, Meyers' Creek, Crook focused primarily on the life and love of Hans' daughter, Mary. In this third book, the tale centres on Hans' grandson, 15-year-old, John Meyers.

     One of the many strengths of Crook's writing is her ability to show, rather than to tell, what is happening. Good writing provides enough detail to stimulate the senses and show the reader what is going on. Poor writing reverts to summarizing and telling the reader what is happening. This quality in Crook's writing is exemplified through her treatment of John's romantic interest in the neighbour, Nan Burditt. Throughout the novel, the author skilfully resists the temptation to tell us that Nan's affections lie elsewhere. Rather, Crook subtly incorporates episodes that suggest that Nan's heart beats not for John, but for his older brother, George. It is very well written, and throughout, the reader is tantalized, left to deduce for him or herself whether John will ultimately be lucky in love.

     Having said these things, John's romantic aspirations are but a subplot to what is an exciting action adventure. The political unrest in and around Toronto in 1837 and 1838 is at the heart of this drama. Given the Meyers' Loyalist roots, Crook presents a delicious tension between the loyal patriotic family traditions and the growing unrest at the so-called Family Compact network of officials who dominated the government and controlled the distribution of patronage throughout Upper Canada. Eventually, most of the Meyers' family joins the side of the Reformers, and John and his brothers become involved in rebellion.

     I must concede that I preferred both Flight and Meyers' Creek to this latest offering. That is not, however, to say that this book was not an enjoyable one to read. While this is a good book, I believe its two predecessors were a little faster paced and contained more action.

     Historical fiction doesn't necessarily engender a great deal of enthusiasm from teenage readers. Despite this, I think that high school Canadian history teachers would do well to direct their students toward Connie Brummel Crook. As a relatively new arrival to this country, I have learned a great about Canada's historical roots through reading the Meyers series.

     Although the promotional release from the publisher, Fitzhenry and Whiteside, states that this book concludes the Meyers family series, in her historical note after word, the author clearly suggests there will be an additional book. In the next book, we are to learn whether it was John or George (or, indeed, somebody else altogether) who succeeded in winning Nan's heart. I am one reader who certainly hopes that the series has not yet come to an end. I expect that Connie Brummel Crook has far too many interesting family history stories to share for her to end just yet.


Gregory Bryan teaches literacy education classes at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB.

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

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