Frolick, Gloria Kupchenko
Volume 21 Number 2
Margy and Anna Veryha are two recent additions to the body of adolescent literature dealing with perennial rites of passage. Both are published by Maxwell Macmillan and are attractively packaged. While Margaret Smith and Gloria Kupchenko Frolick are newcomers to the field of juvenile literature, their writing styles and resulting novels are distinct.
Margaret Smith's novel Margy is a Canadian Children's Book Centre choice. In this well-written narrative, the protagonist, thirteen-year-old Margy Stratton, lives with her father in Manitoba. Margy's mother has been dead for four years. When her father is faced with friction between Margy and her stepmother, he contacts Children's Aid to find a home for Margy.
Through the intervention of a kindly neighbour, arrangements are made for Margy to live with her two maiden aunts in Bancroft, Ontario. Although her mother's family was affluent, the depression has left them with few resources. Margy originally suspects that the aunts have taken her in through a sense of "duty", but she and her aunts slowly come to appreciate and love each other. Margy and her aunts are likeable, real characters who are in fact based on actual people. Margaret Smith skillfully portrays the hardships of the depression without melodrama.
Gloria Kupchenko Frolick has written for adults; Anna Veryha is her first juvenile book. Nine-year-old Anna is the centre of this story, which depicts three days in 1942. During the course of the book, Anna's mother gives birth to a son, while Anna and her sister Dotsia come to a better understanding of each other. The family's Ukrainian roots are evident on every page. However, the characters are somewhat stereotyped and the book leaves one with a sense of incompleteness. No real explanations are given for Anna's father's rages, her mother's complicity with Dotsia's schemes, or Dotsia's rather fickle mood swings. It seems rather contrived that this "slice of life" occurs over Easter weekend so that Frolick can introduce the characteristic Pysanka and Easter baskets.
Margy is a fine book that deserves to be read; Anna Veryha is recommended, with some reservations.
Edith Parsons is Assistant Manager, Information Division, at Edmonton Public Library in Edmonton, Alberta
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