________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 33 . . . . April 29, 2011


That Boy Red.

Rachna Gilmore.
Toronto, ON: Simon & Schuster, 2011.
211 pp., pbk., $11.99.
ISBN 978-1-55468-459-5.

Subject Heading:
Depressions-1929-Prince Edward Island-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Heidi Henkenhaf.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Red flushed. "I'm a hard worker, Mr. MacDonald. I --"

"I'm not doubtin' you are, Red. It's just, what're these men gonna think if I go handin' out the same wages to you?"

Red glanced at the farmers. None of them seemed about to take his part. He knew they counted on digging out the train in the winter for what money they could get. It wasn't often anyone paid real cash; times were hard.

"I'll ... I'll work for half wages, Mr, MacDonald," he blurted. "How 'bout that?" Red saw the hesitation in the section lineman's face, and added, "I'll dig with the rest, and if you figure I haven't done a good day's work, you can decide not to pay me, if that's what you want."

Award-winning children's author, Rachna Gilmore has launched another enjoyable read. That Boy Red dramatizes the experiences of a Canadian family's life as farmers on Prince Edward Island during the Great Depression. As a finely written work of Canadian historical fiction, That Boy Red has the potential for a wide audience appeal, but the primary target audience will be young boys, ages 8-12, who will relate to Red, the young male protagonist within this age group, on many levels. He is curious, adventurous, strong-willed, determined and capable, with a sense of humour. What may surprise young readers is the responsibility level of young people in farming families in the past and the high expectations placed on them at a young age. These children also had a lot of freedom to wander and explore on their own, a situation which is very different from the experience of many children today.

Through the protagonist's story and the series of adventures the MacRae family experience, Gilmore paints an image of Prince Edward Island during this historical time, a family and a community along with its values, strengths, challenges and diversity. This young boy's experience of Canadian life in the past may be the male answer to the historical fiction series "Our Canadian Girl" and "Dear Canada" which have provided a good venue to explore the historical adventures of young Canadian girls. As well as gaining insight into the overall farm life on Prince Edward Island during the Depression era, readers will enjoy the perspective of the spirited young boy Red.

Highly Recommended.

Heidi Henkenhaf is an MLIS Candidate at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.

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

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