CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 2 . . . . September 17, 1999
Farewell to the Ferryboats.
Nancy L.M. Russell.
Scarborough, ON: ITP Nelson, 1998.
72 pp., paper, $9.95.
Grades 3 - 5 /Ages 8 - 10.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.
Change is difficult, and children often find the loss of routine activities hard to accept. In a world
where entire nations are being physically disrupted, it's easy to dismiss a Canadian child's concern
about an adjustment in life. But young minds need help for any adjustment. Farewell to the
Ferryboats is about the change that occurred to people in Prince Edward Island when the
Confederation Bridge displaced the ferry boats. Dozens of people were put out of work, and the
service industry that existed in Borden was wiped out. Cameron is a young boy who has always
loved the ferries and dreamed of working on them when he grew up. He has no other ambitions,
and he even spurns playing baseball and other kids games with his friends in favour of sitting on
the rocks watching the boats. The loss of the ferry boats is devastating to Cameron who can see
no future without them.
The psychological distress caused by the lack of meaningful activity shows in Cameron's family
and the community and leads some to look for work wherever they can find it on the mainland.
Cameron's grandfather falls gravely ill and is hospitalized in Halifax. Cameron has vowed never to
cross the Confederation Bridge, but he relents when his grandfather's condition worsens. Grandpa
recovers quickly when Cameron visits, and Grandpa presents his family with his idea of creating a
museum about ferry boats. This goal revitalizes the family and their friends, but a fire in the
museum destroys their hopes. Consequently, Cameron's brother seeks work in Alberta, his sister
moves off the island to go to university, and his father considers working in Halifax. The
grandfather re-energizes Cameron, and, although the family has changed, they all have useful
activity. Cameron, learning to adjust to his changed reality, starts to participate in typical kidstuff,
and the future looks good.
This story is written in a heartfelt manner and reflects economic problems experienced by people
in the Maritimes where the loss of jobs means unemployment because there are no other industries.
But it is hard to believe that this story will appeal to children outside the Maritimes, and even
there the appeal will be limited. Cameron's personality is a little too sincere - no boy will sit for an
entire summer watching boats, never playing with friends, and refusing to cross a bridge and see
the outside world. The plot is too pat, displaying all the problems that the bridge created. Martin
displays sincere concern for the situation in Prince Edward Island, but the story is too predictable
to be intriguing.
The accompanying line drawings are old style and will likely not appeal to today's children.
Recommended with reservations.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association.
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