________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 5. . . .October 2, 2009.


The Contest. (A Gutsy Girl Book).

Caroline Stellings.
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2009.
123 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 978-1-897187-64-7.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Libby McKeever.





“Westfield Heritage Village, Rockton, Ontario, is pleased to announce that this year’s Anne of Green Gables look-alike contest will be held on Sunday, September 1st. First prize is a boxed set of all eight books in the Anne series, by L. M. Montgomery, and a sterling silver trophy, to be engraved with the winner’s name.”...

It went on to describe the different events: a tea party, an Avonlea road raced, a parade, and – of course – the Anne contest at one p.m. All participants had to provide their own costume, and in Rosy’s category (eleven and up), they would have to display some kind of talent, as well as demonstrate a “visible portrayal of personality.”

Helen looked at Rosy. “It says you’ll be required to answer questions about Anne of Green Gables, and you’ll have to present a piece from the book or sing a song.”

Rosy wasn’t the least bit worried about her personality or her flair for the dramatic. But she looked about as much like Anne as Mr. Wing looked like Elvis.

 Helen knew Rosy loved the Anne of Green Gables series and, as a librarian at a branch of the Hamilton Public Library, she was able to pass on any damaged “Anne” books that the library discarded. Rosy had never owned a new book. Her mom Robin, a Native Canadian, was bringing up her three children by herself, and there wasn’t a lot of extra money. Robin worked hard and taught her children to be frugal but to always give to others. Christmas was a time you helped people less fortunate and didn’t ask for anything.

     It was Helen, the librarian, who encouraged Rosy to enter the Anne look-alike contest and offered to quiz her on questions about the book. The grand prize, a new, hard-covered set of the “Anne’’ books spurred Rosy to enter. Rosy was confident in her knowledge of all things Anne, but her long dark braids made her question whether the judges could look beyond the fact that she didn’t look like Anne at all.

     At the information meeting for the contestants, Rosy meets Lydia, who, with her pale freckled face and long red hair, is the spitting image of Anne. The two form a friendship of sorts. Lydia craves the family and closeness that Rosy’s home offers, and Rosy becomes increasingly aware of how lonely Lydia is despite her father’s wealth.

     Determined to win the contest, the spunky Rosy solicits help from her neighbours, hairdressers Jay and Sebastian, and Mr. Spinelli who offers his car (when it’s repaired) to Rosy’s brother so he can drive her. A costume is made from old curtains, and Rosy trades cleaning and painting services for her eventual transformation. Through a series of funny misadventures, Rosy and her family eventually make it to the contest just in time, but Rosy’s eagerness to win is challenged by her realization of the importance of being a true friend.

     The Contest, written by Caroline Stellings is an engaging story about a young determined girl who has been brought up to think of others even though she has very little herself. This basic trait allows her to relinquish a cherished dream in order to salvage a friend’s relationship with her father. Readers will enjoy Rosy’s spunk, the colourful cast of additional characters, and the funny mishaps as the story of selflessness unfolds.

     Caroline Stellings is an artist, author, and children's book illustrator. Her previous books for children include the Malagawatch Mice and the Cat Who Discovered America, Malagawatch Mice and the Church that Sailed, Skippers at Cape Spear, and Skippers Save the Stone.


Libby McKeever is the Youth Services Coordinator at Whistler Public Library in Whistler, BC.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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