CM January 19, 
1996. Vol. 2, Number 14

image Thora's Island Home.

Sylvia Sigurdson.
White Rock, BC: Eyja Publishing. 107pp, paper.
ISBN 0-9699080-0-8.

Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
Review by Katherine Matthews


Thora decided that she would have to tie the cow's tail. She took a rope from the wall and tied it to a nail directly behind the cow, then fastened the other end to the cow's tail, which now stood out like a horizontal ramrod behind the cow. This time, when she resumed the milking, not one drop came, and the cow stood defiant and still. Then she heard Hannes' belligerent voice behind her saying accusingly, "Cows hold back their milk when provoked. Your awkwardness is the cause of the problem."

 The year is 1931, and twelve-year-old Thora arrives on Hecla Island, in Manitoba, from her home in Iceland. Thora has been sent to live with her uncle, foul-tempered and irritable, and her aunt, sickly and bedridden. Thora's life in Canada begins as a trial; rather than finding her a help, her uncle considers her a nuisance. She makes a friend, Signy, but her uncle won't let them see each other.

Sigurdson's earnest fondness for Thora and Hecla Island is evident in the book. The story itself is set up as a series of events in Thora's life, rather than having a cohesive plot structure. Dialogue is formal, and reminiscent of a past time. Thora is the most developed of all the characters, and her actions and thoughts often make her seem older than her twelve years. Thora's Island Home may have some appeal to readers familiar with Icelandic immigration to Manitoba, or a more limited application in Manitoba heritage studies.

Recommended with reservations

Katherine Matthews is a Teacher/Librarian at the Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto.

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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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