________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 7 . . . . November 26, 2004


Belle of Batoche. (Orca Young Readers).

Jacqueline Guest.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2004.
135 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 1-55143-297-8.

Subject Heading:
Batoche (Sask.), Battle of, 1885-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Shelly Tyler.

**½ /4


Belle's breath caught in her chest. She looked across the river to the south. There, far in the distance, columns of mounted men and foot soldiers moved towards Batoche. It was happening, just as everyone had feared. Batoche was under attack!

Belle is an 11-year-old Métis girl with a penchant for daydreaming and a wish to become the new bell ringer at her church. When her rival, Sarah, decides that she, too, would like to become the bell ringer, a competition ensues. Each girl must embroider an altar cloth and present it for judging. Although Belle is a tomboy of sorts, she enlists the help of her talented mother to show her the most beautiful stitches to use on her cloth. When Belle suspects Sarah of cheating on her task, she sets out to prove it! Before Belle can prove to the church members that Sarah paid an elder to stitch for her, General Middleton's forces advance on Batoche in the 1885 Riel Rebellion. Belle and Sarah must join forces to save their families from the dangerous battle. Hiding out in a root cellar together, Belle and Sarah take charge of the situation and care for their injured family members. Faced with impending danger, Belle has no choice but to head out and forage for supplies. One wrong move and she could alert the enemy soldiers to their hideout!

Soundlessly, she made her way back toward the root cellar. Just as she was going to make a dash to the hidden door, a mounted patrol rounded a small hill and headed straight for her. The sound of the horses' hooves came closer and closer.

     Written in third person, this book is a step back in time and brings the young reader right into the years of Louis Riel. Historical points of the period are mentioned, giving the reader a brief history lesson on the Rebellion years. For many readers, Belle will serve as a role model with her bravery in the face of danger, her determination to succeed and her loyalty to family and friends. Readers will leave this book hoping for a sequel.


Shelly Tyler is a Reference Librarian with the Manitoba Department of Education Library in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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