The Private Journal of Day Applepenny *Prisoner*.
Grades 4 - 6 / Ages 9 - 11.
Friday, August 30On August 23, 1974, the date of her twelfth birthday, Day Applepenny, the only child of her single mother, Eleison, leaves their hippie commune home near Nanaimo, B.C., to live with her recently widowed and wealthy grandmother in Rosedale, Toronto's ritzy area. Over most of the next seven months, Day keeps a private journal, albeit one she shares with her readers, in which she records the happenings and emotions she experiences as a "prisoner" in the house of this stranger, Nana Applepenny, aka "Nana Banana" in journal entries. Day resents having to attend a posh private girls' school, Harrington Hill, especially when two of the wealthiest girls go out of their way to make school life tough for both her and a Chinese-Canadian student. Providing focus and purpose to Day's life is her "Back-to-Camp-Eden" project, her secret attempt to save enough money to purchase a train ticket to Vancouver. Day's various money-making schemes, which range from renting "racy" books from Nana's library to girls at school and "selling" her Christmas gifts to "stealing" Hallowe'en UNICEF money eventually yield the needed monies, but she finds herself thwarted by railway rules which prohibit juveniles from travelling alone. About a month later, Day, with the help of a forged letter, bluffs her way on to an airline flight and returns to Eden. Ironically, while Day has been labelling herself a "prisoner," it is her mother who better deserves this title for, over the last six months, the commune had been taken over by a group which had turned Eden into a drug manufacturing centre in which the residents were virtual prisoners. The book comes to a generally happy ending with Day's having rescued her mother and the two preparing to start life afresh.
Nana Banana must have been buttering me up with all those tourist type trips around Toronto. Today we got down to serious business, registration at Harrington Hall. I know you went to school there, Eleison, but I imagine the look of the place has changed since then. Not everyone can fit into the main building with the curved driveway, fancy sign and stained glass windows. Now the main building is just for the high school girls,and there is another for Grades Five to Nine. There are lots of smaller brick buildings too, residences where the boarders live. Girls come to Harrington from as far away as Australia and South Africa, Nana Banana says. Their parents must really want to get rid of them!
Haughian's first novel is generally successful though the sudden transition to B.C. leaves what appeared to be a subplot involving the school's two nasty girls and the issue of racism somewhat unresolved. In Day, Haughian has produced a feisty and delightful character whom middle school readers, especially girls, will enjoy.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and YA lit. in the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - NOVEMBER 14, 1997.
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