________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 2 . . . . September 17, 2004

cover Marie-Claire: Angels in Winter. (Our Canadian Girl).

Kathy Stinson.
Toronto, ON: Penguin Canada, 2004.
78 pp., pbk., $8.99.
ISBN 0-14-301673-3.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Kristin Butcher.

**1/2 /4

Reviewed from Uncorrected Proofs.


Looking around the room and thinking about how all these people had been part of her life this year, and she of theirs, Marie-Claire felt an almost overwhelming pride. They had been through so much. All of them. But they were strong people. Even in the face of injury, disease, fire, and death, they carried on. And so did she. She was one of them. Strong and proud and ready to face together whatever the New Year brought.

Book Four of the "Marie-Claire" series from "Our Canadian Girl" finds the people of Montreal preparing for Christmas and the New Year. Through Marie-Claire's association with Laura, the reader becomes privy both to the French and English ways of celebrating the season. Marie-Claire's biggest problem in this novel concerns her gift exchange with Laura. Wishing to show her appreciation for the nightgown Laura had given her, Marie-Claire stays up into the night carving an angel from a bar of soap. Though the offering is insignificant in comparison to Laura's other gifts, the English girl graciously accepts the angel and places it prominently on her night table. Then, to take Marie-Claire's mind off the terrible year she has had, Laura gives her the snow globe her grandmother had given her. Marie-Claire has long coveted the snow globe, but now that she has it, she isn't so sure she should keep it.

     Overall, Angels in Winter was disappointing. It seemed as if its primary purpose was to tie together loose ends and assure the reader that Marie-Claire would continue to grow and learn. There was no great conflict, no real turmoil, nothing for the reader to worry about no reason to turn the pages. The dilemma regarding the snow globe wasn't sufficient to sustain an entire book not even a slim one and at the end when Marie-Claire finally decides that it isn't a good idea to pursue a friendship with the English girl, the reader feels tricked. Why did Stinson go down that path if it wasn't leading anywhere?

     However, ten-year-old readers are probably less critical than grown-up ones, and for those who have read the rest of the "Marie-Claire" books, Angels in Winter will put a bow on the series.


Kristin Butcher lives in Victoria, BC, and writes for children.


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