Volume II Number 2
October 27, 1995

image Luke Baldwin's Vow.

Morley Callaghan.
Toronto: Stoddart, 1995 (original coyright 1945).
181pp, paper, $5.99.
ISBN 0-7736-7440-3.

Grades 4 - 7 / Ages 9 - 12.
Review by Irene Gordon.


He was so excited that he could hardly keep himself under water and work effectively. From the collie's neck the rope stretched to the now imbedded rock, and when he grabbed the rope and tried to slash it with one swift cut there seemed to be no strength in his arm; the rope seemed to slide away from him. Again he slashed and the knife came drifting feebly at the rope, bending it as if the knife and the rope were made of rubber. He knew he couldn't stand it anymore, not if the rope bent like that again; he couldn't stand it because his own strength was failing and he knew that each passing second took what was left of Dan's life.

Luke is orphaned at age eleven and moves from the city to the country to live with his aunt and uncle. He is naturally homesick and grieving for his father. His well-meaning and kindly aunt and uncle try to do their best for him; but his only real friend and comfort becomes the elderly, one-eyed collie Dan. Practical Uncle Henry considers Dan useless now that he is too old to be a watch-dog and decides that Dan should be "put down." Luke's frantic efforts to save Dan's life (see the excerpt above) provide heart-stopping suspense.

Luke Baldwin's Vow is a story of a boy and his dog and their adventures -- which will appeal to the many children who are dog lovers. It is also a sensitive story of love and loss, and of making a new life for oneself. These aspects may appeal more to adults than to children. Although it was first published fifty years ago, only a few details (clothing for example) really indicate that it is not a contemporary story. Given its high quality, it's a pity that this was Morley Callaghan's only book for children.

Highly recommended.

Irene Gordon is a teacher-librarian at Westdale Junior High in Winnipeg.

image image Copyright © 1995 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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