________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 20 . . . . June 6, 2002

cover Under a Shooting Star. (Circle of Silver Chronicles).

Maxine Trottier.
Toronto, ON: Stoddart Kids, 2001.
212 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 0-7737-6228-0.

Subject Heading:
Canada-History-War of 1812-Fiction.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Gail de Vos.

*** /4


One night, Edward lay awake staring at the low flames. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day. An arm's reach away Kate and Anne slept peacefully, bundled together under the heaviest down quilts. Outside the wind roared. Edward sat up and pushed away the bedding. The girls wore nightdresses; sometimes they each wore two against the cold, but Edward usually slept in his clothing. He took a candle from the mantel, lit it, and went to his uncle's library. There was no fire burning here and he could see his breath. He held up the candle so that he could study the painting of Mack and her family. It was then that he really noticed the book that lay on the mantel. A wampum belt of blue and white beads worked into the images of dragonflies lay across it in graceful folds. Edward slid the book from beneath the belt, brushed the dust from the cover, and read the initials engraved in the leather. CWM. Of course, it must be Mack's journal. Seated in his uncle's chair, heedless of the cold, Edward read for a very long time. He stopped once to light a second candle, but other than that he did not pause.

It is not only Edward who reads without a pause! The reader is plunged into a world of intrigue and danger as the adventures of Edward, Kate and Anne illuminate a slice of Canadian history as a new generation of MacNeils is brought to life in another entry in the "Circle of Silver Chronicles" series. Edward Wolf MacNeil, a fifteen-year-old Canadian of British and Oneida heritage, is escorting two American sisters home from England when their journey is interrupted by the War of 1812. Edward and the girls find sanctuary, for a time, at his uncle's home on an island in Lake Erie, but it is not a restful period for there are a great deal of unanswered questions for Edward to contemplate. Where is his uncle? What will he find in Mack's journal? Will Edward discover how to balance his Native heritage with that of his English ancestry? What of Edward's budding relationship with Chief Tecumseth and his son Paukeesaa? Edward does not have a great deal of leisure time to ponder the answer to these questions as he faces immediate danger from the natural environment, the war ravaged country to the south and the immediacy of the Battle of Lake Eire. This novel is much more than a well-written adventure story about early nineteenth century life and war at sea, although it evokes this historical era very well. On one level, the novel considers pacifism at a time when war was thought of as an honorable activity, but more notably, it is also a story about the complex search for individual and internal acceptance for several young people from very different cultures and family relationships. Trottier effectively brings her main character Edward to life - his dreams, fears and thoughts - as well as his relationships with the varied inhabitants in his immediate and fluctuating world. While the other characters are not as broadly painted, the reader cares about their safety and well being as well as that of Edward.

     Honor title for the 2001 Bilson Historical Fiction Award.


A professional storyteller and author, Gail de Vos also teaches at the School of Library and Information Sciences, the University of Alberta.

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

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364