________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 13 . . . . March 4, 2005


Son of the Hounds.

Robert Sutherland.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1988/2004.
128 pp., pbk., $10.95.
ISBN 1-55041-906-4.

Subject Headings:
Canada-History-War of 1812-Juvenile fiction.
United States-History-War of 1812-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

*** /4


Jimmy brought his hands to his sides, sprang to his feet and ran, his eyes on the tree line, his mind shutting out everything else.

He crossed a road and a vegetable garden, sprang over a snake rail fence and dashed across a narrow strip of pasture land.

As he drew away from the camp, he became aware of sounds and movements all around him. Someone was running on his right, and there was at least one more away to his left. He heard the crash of a musket shot, but it seemed to come from far away, as if it had nothing to do with him. Shouts and a distant, unfathomable din behind him registered, but meant little.

He leaped off the bank of a stream, landed with a splash on the far side, bounded up the shallow bank and suddenly found himself in the forest.

Set against a background of the War of 1812, this historical novel tells the story of young Jimmy Cameron and his brave deeds. As the book opens, Jimmy and his father are taken prisoner and forced to leave their farm. Thanks to his mother's foresight and his own ingenuity, Jimmy escapes and is determined to fight the Yankees in any way he can. His adventures include sneaking into a Yankee camp to obtain information and acting as both a spy and a messenger for the Band of Bloody Boys.

     This novels stands alone as a historical adventure or could easily form part of a history unit on the War of 1812. There are references to actual battles and real historical characters. Classroom activities might include mapping some of the place names in the book to give a clearer picture of the events of the war, or perhaps researching some of the historical characters.

     Because Sutherland writes with descriptive detail, readers gain an understanding of what life was like in the early nineteenth century and how warfare was waged on both the British and American sides. Individual characters are also well-described and could easily lend themselves to class discussions: Is Jimmy Cameron's bravery something that can still be found in young people today? Is Faith Fairlie typical of what we expect in a young girl from the nineteenth century? From today?

     With adventure and intrigue set against an accurate historical background, Son of the Hounds would be an interesting choice either as a read-aloud novel for class discussion or for independent reading.


Ann Ketcheson, a former teacher of high school English and French, is currently the teacher-librarian at Peterborough Collegiate in Peterborough, ON.

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

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