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Joan Payzant
Illustrated by Marijke Simons Dartmouth (N.S.), Windmill Press, 1992. 85pp, paper, $9.95
ISBN 0-9696260-0-2. Distributed by Windmill Press, 37 Summit St., Dartmouth, N.S. B2Y 2Z9. CIP

Subject Heading:
Halifax (N.S.)-History-Explosion, 1917-Juvenile Fiction.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11

Reviewed by Anne Kelly

Volume 20 Number 6
1992 November

Who's a Scaredy-Cat? is the story of two families in Dartmouth at the time of the Halifax Explosion. Flossie Wright is a prankster, taking pleasure in practical jokes. Isobel Morton, whose father is missing after the battle of Vimy Ridge, dislikes Flossie's jokes, and is ridiculed by the other girl. Although Isobel knows she is not a "scaredycat" Flossie's jibes still hurt. She proves her bravery and wins Flossie's friendship in the terrible days that follow the explosion of the Mont Blanc.

Who's a Scaredy-Cat? deals with two serious subjects--war and a major civil disaster. Although the pain and distress of these events are portrayed realistically, the novel is really about hope, courage and the ability of people to carry on. Life continues for Flossie and Isobel and their families. Despite the damage caused by the explosion, despite Mr. Morton's disappearance, the children are able to enjoy Christmas, Rex the dog, and each other.

The historical detail is woven into the story masterfully, and is brought to life in Marijke Simons' illustrations. The setting is vivid, the characters realistic and likeable. Children today will be able to relate to both the place and the people--what child has never longed for a dog of her own or whooped with joy because school has been closed, as Isobel and her brother do?

Who's a Scaredy-Cat? claims to be "especially for ages 8-12; of interest to other ages." I agree. I enjoyed the book enormously.

Who's a Scaredy-Cat? is an enjoyable, historically detailed novel. An excellent choice!

Anne Kelly is a part-time Masters of Education student at St. Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a substitute teacher with the Halifax and Dartmouth District School Boards.
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