________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 33 . . . . May 1, 2015


The Dream Carvers. (Puffin Classics).

Joan Clark.
Toronto, ON: Puffin/Penguin Canada, 1995/2014.
240 pp., trade pbk., $10.99.
ISBN 978-0-14-319235-0.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Janet Johnson.

**** /4



The next day, as I paddle North with Bogodorasook and the others, I wrestle with my decision to leave. Maybe I should tell Bogodorasook my intention. He's never shown me anything but kindness and has helped me in countless ways. He might even help me if he knew I wanted to return to Leifsbudir. He might offer me the use of the canoe he and I built with Cheething. I decide to tell him my plans. Then I realize that I can't tell him, for if there's a ship in Leifsbudir, I will never return to the Osweet.

      This historical fiction novel takes place in 11th century Newfoundland just after the Vikings have settled in what is now Aix aux Meadows. The story is narrated from the view point of Wobee, a young Norse boy whose real name is Trand. Trand is on timber gathering voyage with his father and other Norsemen from Greenland and Iceland.

      Trand is a 14-year-old boy who is captured by the Osweet, a tribe of Beothuk people, to replace the young native boy who was killed when the young Osweet boy tried to steal a seal from the Norse settlement. The Osweet are a small tribe, and families and women outnumber young men. Trand has a difficult time adjusting to life in the tribe, but he eventually takes an active part in hunting and building a canoe. After a year goes by, Trand meets Cheeting, another Norseman, who is happy to stay with the tribe who captured him. Another year goes by, but Wobee/Trand is still restless, and, worried about his family back in Greenland, he takes a canoe and escapes. It is only when he arrives at the settlement and finds it abandoned that he tries to rejoin the Osweet as life with them is the only home he has now.

      The Dream Carvers will appeal to both boys and girls as there is also a female character around Wobee's age. Abidith, a native girl, has a voice in the novel as she is the dream carver with the ability to enter Wobee's dreams. Wobee becomes interested in her romantically, but she cannot marry him as he helped to kill her brother. Later, a girl from another tribe shows an interest in Wobee and he with her as she has an independent nature that appeals to him.

      Suspension of disbelief is accomplished by consistency of characters, plot, setting and theme. Trand, or Wobee, is only 14, which puts him close to the age of the readers of this book. The characters in The Dream Carvers, furthermore, are ordinary people, which enables the reader to feel engaged in Trand's struggle to survive in hopes of returning to his homeland.

      Originally published in 1995, The Dream Carvers has just been republished as part of the Penguin Puffin Classic series. This timeless classic won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historic Fiction in 1995, as well as Mr. Christie's Book Award in 1995 and the Hibernia Children's/Young Adult Provincial Book Award in 1997. The publishers have added new material to this publication that enhances its value as an historical novel for the reader. An introduction by the award-winning children's author Polly Horvath sets the stage for this story by giving the reader some background on the Vikings that came to Canada. Furthermore, there is an author profile of Joan Clark, a guide to who's who in the novel, and sections on activities and some things to think about. There is also a map of an early Newfoundland.

      Any reader who is interested in the early history of Canada, and Newfoundland in particular, would enjoy reading The Dream Carvers.

Highly Recommended.

Janet Johnson is a retired librarian who used to teach Children's Literature for the Library Technician Program at Red River College in Winnipeg, MB.

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
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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