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SARA'S HOMECOMING

Conkie, Heather
Toronto, HarperCollins, 1992. 123pp, paper, $4.50, ISBN 0-00647154-4. (Road to Avonlea,12). CIP


AUNT HETTY'S ORDEAL

Hamilton, Gail
Toronto, HarperCollins, 1992. 121pp, paper, $4.50, ISBN 0-00647155-2. (Road to Avonlea,13). CIP


OF CORSETS AND SECRETS AND TRUE TRUE LOVE

McHugh, Fiona
Toronto, HarperCollins, 1992. 122pp, paper, $4.50, ISBN 0-00647156-0. (Road to Avonlea, 14). CIP


Grades 4 to 8 / Ages 9 to 13

Reviewed by Constance Hall

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October


"Road to Avonlea," based on the characters of Lucy Maud Montgomery's novels and produced by Sullivan Films in association with the Disney Channel, has been a popular TV mini-series. In Sum's Homecoming, the twelfth book in the series. Sara travels to her father's house in Montreal with Aunt Hetty, since it appears that his financial problems are over.

A tragic accident ends the reunion. With Nanny Louisa J. Banks and Aunt Hetty, Sara returns to Rose Cottage in Avonlea for her father's funeral. In her desperation to talk to her father once more, Sara sneaks away to the fortune teller, who has come to Avonlea with the circus. Unwittingly, Sara plays right into the hands of Isis and her partner Leo, who had been planning to kidnap Sara and hold her for ransom. Sara's adventure ends after Uncle Alec tries a solo rescue attempt and after Isis has a change of heart about the kidnapping. The adults decide that Sara should stay with Aunt Hetty and Aunt Olivia at Rose Cottage while Nanny Louisa looks after the house in Montreal.

Although this is a sad story it also contains a certain amount of adventure and suspense. Sara displays a special kind of courage as she must deal with her father's death and in her struggle to get away from her kidnappers. Of the three books, this one would appeal most to young people.

As the title says, the next book in the series is all about Aunt Hetty's ordeal. Because the Lieutenant Governor is coming to Avonlea, school mistress Hetty King faces a visit from her rival, the newly appointed Superintendent of Schools, Muriel Stacey. In an effort to drum up new students for her school, Hetty recruits a young cannery worker, Gus Pike. Gus works a split shift in order to be on time at school, but when he brings his fiddle with him, Hetty decides to make him into a model gentleman without his pipe and music. One feels sorry for the authoritative Hetty when Muriel must be the substitute teacher for her classroom. As part of the reception for the Lieutenant Governor, the students prepare a special tribute to Hetty arranged by Muriel Stacey and Gus Pike.

Of Corsets and Secrets and True True Love finds two familiar characters together at Green Gables, Rachel Lynde and Manila Cuthbert. As newspaper columnists for the Avonlea Chronicle, Sara Stanley and Olivia King visit Rachel in an effort to report on the origins of the church choir. When left on their own, Sara and Olivia snoop through Rachel's letters only to find an old picture of a handsome young man. Reverend Dinsdale. The theme of the story becomes evident. What was the relationship between Rachel and Ambrose Dinsdale, a secret for years? Was it true love? In desperation over her lingering toothache and Marilla's temporary adoption of two young orphans, Rachel leaves Green Gables. In the climax of the story, Hetty and Dr. Blair combine forces to pull Rachel's tooth and Manila helps Rachel clarify her feelings about choosing Thomas Lynde as her husband instead of Ambrose. Reunited, Marilla and Rachel decide to care for Dora and Davy at Green Gables rather than send them to an orphanage.

As in other books in the series, besides the cover illustration, there are four still pictures from the TV episode, which show some funny scenes such as Rachel's corset on the Harrisons' pig and the antics of Dora and Davy.

Whether readers have watched the TV series or not, these books are entertaining stories with lots of dialogue, and each one provides a glimpse of the olden days for young readers.


Constance Hall is a teacher-librarian with the Hamilton Board of Education in Hamilton, Ontario

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