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YESTERDAY'S CHILDREN

Barkhouse, Joyce
Hantsport (N.S.), Lancelot Press, 1992. 92pp, paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-88999-522-2. CIP.


Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12

Reviewed by Anne Kelly

Volume 21 Number 2
1993 March


Yesterday's Children is a collection of twelve short stories about Nova Scotia's past. The stories vary in topic and style, from pioneer life in "Pioneer Cat" and "Watchers in the Night" to encounters with Native people in "The Apples of Hufeisen Bucht" and excitement and rescue in "Red Petticoats" and "Bay of Fundy Rescue."

All the stories are short and easy to read. They all have young protagonists and tell of incidents of interest to young readers. They are all well researched.

Unfortunately, the stories are not all the same quality readers expect from Joyce Barkhouse. Some of them are excellent "Jennifer and the Letter" and "Heroine of Lunenburg," for example, combine historical detail with a strong plot and warm, realistic characters. In other stories, however, the history "lesson" becomes all-important, and the story-telling becomes secondary to the facts. This is most obvious in the last story in the book, "The Halifax Explosion," in which readers are frequently given information unknown to the heroine that detracts from the plot.

Yesterday's Children also includes some historical notes on details important to young children, such as pioneer schools, games and weather forecasts. Additional story "clues" are included in the sketch-like illustrations.

Yesterday's Children is a good introduction to Nova Scotia history and would be a valuable complement to the social studies curriculum in Canadian schools. Even with its flaws, it serves an important function it brings history to life in an easy-to-read way.

Yesterday's Children is a collection of short historical stories for ages nine to twelve a good buy!


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