CM . . . . Volume XX Number 8 . . . . October 25, 2013
Rosie Dunn is a 13-year-old girl, living with her Irish family in Quebec City. Her older sister, Mary Margaret, works as a maid for the wife of a civil servant, Mr. Bradley. Because Queen Victoria has decreed that the capital city of the Province of Canada will relocate to Ottawa, Mr. Bradley and his wife must move. Mary Margaret has decided to stay in Quebec City to marry, and she offers Rosie the opportunity to go to Ottawa in her place. Very reluctant to leave her family, Rosie moves to Ottawa which is nothing more than a sawmill town - muddy, cold and in the middle of nowhere.
Rosie is able to piece together information about what is happening in Parliament through conversations that she overhears Mr. Bradley and his associates having and by reading newspaper headlines. She discovers that, although there is some opposition to passing the British North America Act, it looks like the creation of the Dominion of Canada is inevitable. Working for and living with the Bradleys gives Rosie new opportunities, such as travel and new friends, and she eventually feels comfortable with her employers and at home in Ottawa.
Told in a diary format as part of the "Dear Canada" series, A Country of Our Own is the third offering from Karleen Bradford in this series. I commend Bradford for producing a story about one of the most pinnacle events in Canadian history; however, Confederation may not be one of the most exciting events in our past (as told by a young girl). Rosie is limited to her understanding of the formation of the Dominion of Canada through what Mr. Bradley tells her or what she reads in the newspapers. There are important figures mentioned, such as Sir. John A. MacDonald and Thomas D'Arcy Magee, but Rosie does not have any firsthand experience with either of these men.
Rosie's voice is clear through her journal entries, and readers get a sense of the way she talks through the colloquialisms and phrases used. The only conflicts in this story include Rosie's fear that Quebec will not join Confederation, and, therefore, her family will be living in a separate country, and a minor incident with a missing bracelet. Truthfully, the story is a little bit boring. There are interesting additions to the book, however, including a number of seasonal recipes, like blueberry flummery and maple sugar pie, that Rosie includes in her diary. The end of the story offers an epilogue, a detailed historical note and 13 black and white photographs highlighting people, places and events mentioned in Rosie's diary.
A Country of Our Own would be a handy addition to a school library or as supplemental material for a history lesson. I recommend it as part of the "Dear Canada" series, but apart from that, I found the story lacking due to the limitation of the topic as explained by a young girl.
Recommended with reservations.
Gillian Green is a children's reference librarian in Woodstock, Ontario.
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