________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 8 . . . . December 10, 2004


Five Stars for Emily. (Orca Young Readers).

Kathleen Cook Waldron.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2004.
134 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 1-55143-296-X.

Subject Headings:
Winter-Juvenile fiction.
Vacations-Juvenile fiction.
Disappointment-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Meredith MacKeen.

*** /4


I know star and birthday wishes can come true, even if sometimes they get a little twisted. Before Jake was born, I wished for a big sister, and I got him instead. I wished for a piano and I got a ukulele. I wished to be the most popular girl in school and ended up getting dumped by my best and only friend, Jessie. Now I don't have any friends at all. Maybe I'll skip wishing tonight and just hope really hard that in the morning Aunt Hannah will show me two tickets to Disneyland and tell me that going north was just a joke. (Page 15.)

With my eyes fixed on the sky, I stand up, stretch out my arms and sway to the music. Back and forth. Back and forth. Like a tree in the wind. Slowly at first. Then faster. I slide one foot forward on the ice, then the other. Left push, glide. Right, push glide. My feet are light as leaves. The wind on my face is cool and alive. My shadow glides along beside me, soft as starlight. Lift, glide, spin, fly. I'm floating over a sea of snow. Dancing with the stars. The world grows lighter and lighter until an enormous light rises over the mountains. The full moon! My shadow leaps across the snow. (Page 133.)

This well written novel is about understanding between two new friends and between Emily and her aunt Hannah. Emily, age 10, is very disappointed to learn that she will spend her holiday up north in an isolated cabin, one without electricity or indoor plumbing. She had hoped that her aunt would choose to visit Disneyland, but instead the two of them are going to a housewarming up north. Adjusting to life in a cabin is difficult, especially when Emily has to learn to use the outhouse. As well, she and Blossom have a lot of chores to do including shovelling snow, stacking wood, collecting snow to make ice cream and preparing food for the party. Blossom, her host, considers playing hockey to be relaxation, even though they must first clear off the lake, but Emily is used to her television and computer games. At first, Emily finds this lifestyle extremely stressful, and, when she cuts her knuckles grating carrots in the kitchen, she rushes up stairs to consider her situation. At this point, Aunt Hannah is unable to console Emily, but eventually Blossom is able to reassure Emily. When Emily gets lost going to the outhouse, a whole search party is put together to find her. She and her aunt Hannah have a reconciliation on that night, and the holiday adventure is considered a success.

     The story is told in the first person by Emily who starts off as a whining 10- year-old, but, by the end of the novel, she has become much more positive about her holiday. Humour emerges from her dialogue. For example, "Aunt Hannah packs food, sleeping bags, long underwear, skates, skis, snowshoes, a toboggan, her fiddle - the list goes on. My shorts sit sadly in the drawer while I pack sweaters and socks. "

     This novel, part of the "Orca Young Readers" series, is a straightforward, easy read, one with a pleasant lesson. Incidental learning about life in a cabin will include how much work is involved. A good addition for libraries looking for chapter books for girls in grades 4 to 7.


Meredith Maccan is a teacher-librarian at Glen Stewart Elementary School in Stratford, PE.

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

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