CM December 8, 
1995. Vol. II, Number 8

image The White Stone in the Castle Wall

Sheldon Oberman. Illustrated by Les Tate.
Montreal: Tundra Books, 1995. 24pp, cloth, $16.95.
ISBN 0-88776-333-2. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Casa Loma (Toronto, Ont.)-Juvenile fiction.
Pellatt, Henry Mill, Sir, 1859-1939-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten - grade 3 / Ages 5 - 8.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.

 Starting with a known fact, Oberman creates both an appealing young character and a believable story to explain how that fact might have come to be. Among the quarter million dark fieldstones used to construct the half-mile wall surrounding Toronto's Castle Loma, there is but one white stone. Since the wall was built under the direct supervision of the castle's owner, Sir Henry Pellatt, this odd rock could only have been used with Sir Henry's knowledge. Oberman suggests one scenario that might have led to Sir Henry's accepting such an unsuitable stone.

John Tommy Fiddich, a lad from Toronto's poorest area, vacillates between characterizing himself as the "luckiest" and "unluckiest boy of all." After hail destroys his flourishing vegetable garden, John is left with only a "dirty, worthless stone," but his fortune appears to change when he learns that Sir Henry is paying a silver dollar for every dull-coloured stone delivered to the building site. Loading the previously worthless rock aboard his cart, John makes the arduous trip to the castle's hilltop location. Along the way, however, rain washes the stone's surface exposing its bright white exterior. With his stone rejected, a disheartened John shares his tale of misfortune with the castle's gardener. John becomes "the luckiest boy of all" when the "gardener" reveals his true identity and purchases the stone because "your work has made it worth a lot to me."

Tate's realistic paintings, which principally portray John's trek, faithfully capture Toronto as it would have appeared in 1914, while the map on the book's endpapers allows readers to trace John's trip from River St. to the Castle Loma gate at the corner of Davenport and Walmer.

The final page provides factual information about Sir Henry and the building of Castle Loma.


Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and young-adult literature in the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.

If you would like to comment on this review or anything else in CM please send mail to

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

Go back to CM Welcome page
Go back to Table of Contents for this Issue