Grades 4 - 8 / Ages 9 - 13.
Twelve-year-old Mickey lives with his mother and abusive father in Ottawa in 1895. Finally his mother sneaks Mickey out of the house and sends him by train to stay with her brother Ronald who lives on a farm north of the city with his identical twin cousins who keep house for him. Uncle Ronald is a gentle and kind man. He and the cousins offer Mickey the first security he has known although he misses his mother. Shortly after his arrival, Mickey's mother manages to escape as well and arrives at her brother's home, but not before being badly beaten by her husband.
In addition to the tragic story about Mickey and his mother, the novel contains comic elements in its description of the community's battle with the tax collectors and descriptions of some of Uncle Ronald's neighbours.
While this reviewer thoroughly enjoyed Uncle Ronald, I wonder how appealing the book will be to young readers. The device by which the novel is introduced (Mickey at age 112 recalling the events of his twelfth year) may put off a lot of young readers and some of the humour may appeal more to adults than to children. Undoubtedly it is a book that will be enjoyed by a certain group of young readers, but librarians may have to introduce it to children they think might enjoy it because I don't believe it is a book which sells itself at first glance.
Recommended with reservations.
Irene Gordon is a teacher-librarian who has spent the past 13 years working in a junior high school in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and is presently co-editor of the MSLA Journal.
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Copyright © 1997 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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