CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 15. . . .December 11, 2009
Stop That Stagecoach! (Canadian Flyer Adventures; 13).
Frieda Wishinsky. Illustrated by Jean-Paul Eid.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press/Owlkids books, 2009.
71 pp., pbk. & hc., $7.95 (pbk.), $17.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-897349-63-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-897349-62-5 (hc.).
Frontier and pioneer life-Ontario-Juvenile fiction.
Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.
Review by Tanya Boudreau.
Clang! Clang! Clang!
The sound of bells rang through the air.
Thomas stopped walking and looked up at the houses nearby. Fear spread across his face.
"What's the matter?" asked Emily.
"Those bells mean there has been another death in Montreal. There have been so many deaths here already."
Emily shivered. "Why are so many people dying?"
"It is the cholera disease. We thought we were safe on board, but a man from our ship took ill. We have been lucky so far, but know we must leave Montreal. We do not want to come down with this terrible sickness, too."
"I'm ready to get out of here right now," said Matt.
"Let me ask Mother when the stagecoach is due to arrive. It will take us on the first part of our journey," said Thomas. He ran ahead.
Emily clapped her hands. "I've always wanted to ride a stagecoach. I hope there are no masked bandits on the road who will demand all our money and jewels, like they do in the movies!"
Thanks to their magical sled, Matt Martinez and Emily Bing can go back in time and live history. This thirteenth adventure in the "Canadian Flyer Adventures" series, which coincides with an assignment Emily needs to finish, takes Matt and Emily to Montreal and transforms them into pioneers from 1833. Their destination is Upper Canada, but to get there, they will have to travel by stagecoach, wagon, steamer, and scow. Travelling with them will be 11-year-old Thomas and his mom, Mrs. O'Brien. Although Thomas's mother is happy to be leaving a cholera infected Montreal, she is worried about travelling because she is due to give birth. To get to Upper Canada, Matt and Emily and the O'Briens will have to endure eight days of rough roads with a grubby coachman, sleep in crowded noisy inns, and live off watery potato soup and old dry bread. Near the end of their journey, an unexpected detour turns their search for shelter into a search for medical help. While Matt looks for someone to deliver Mrs. O'Brien's baby, Emily stays behind to provide support for the mother-to-be.
Although Matt and Emily try to keep their real identities a secret, they do make occasional mistakes. In this book, they talk about something Thomas has never heard of before- milkshakes. The pair do find a way to cover up their mistake, but their explanation leaves Thomas with a milkshake craving. Matt and Emily's present day knowledge does come in handy though on the long voyage. To pass time on the road, Matt and Emily teach Thomas and his mom the game" I Spy with my Little Eyes."
By the end of Stop that Stagecoach!, readers will see how the illustration of a piece of baby blanket ties into the story and how a journey is never completely finished until Matt and Emily do a little more research. Matt and Emily's top 10 facts about the time period are listed at the back of this book.
Black and white illustrations appear in every chapter of this 71 page book. They show Matt and Emily in their pioneer clothing and climbing aboard the stagecoach. Readers will be able to see where they spent their first night, what their first meal looked like, and why Matt and Emily chose to sleep outside. A map illustrates the route that was followed, and a note shows how Emily and Matt say goodbye to the O'Brien family.
The "Canadian Flyer Adventures" books are a well-researched series that seven to nine-year-old boys or girls could enjoy. Not only is there something interesting to learn about Canadian history in every book, but the stories they contain about Canadian heroes and survivors will make young Canadians feel proud of their country.
Frieda Wishinsky has a B.A. in International Relations and a Master of Science in Special Education. She has written many picture and chapter books for children including What's the Matter with Albert? and Manya's Dream. A former teacher, Frieda lives in Toronto. ON. Jean-Paul Eid has created comics and graphic novels. He lives in Montreal, PQ.
Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.
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