CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 4 . . . . October 15, 1999
Phoebe wandered unhappily into Grandma's kitchen.Established author, Andrea Spalding (The Most Beautiful Kite in the World, Finders Keepers, Sarah May and the New Red Dress) has provided young readers with a sensitive tale of human relationships set in the small English village of her childhood. Phoebe Hiller, in many ways a typical seven to nine-year-old Canadian, is staying, reluctantly, with her grandmother while her parents visit friends. When the curiosity of the villagers becomes overwhelming, Phoebe escapes to the common where she meets a gypsy fortune teller, her father's childhood playmate. Mrs. Smith gently teaches Phoebe about Gypsies and the uneasy relationship that often existed between them and the villagers. She helps her namesake to accept the gift of second sight which she inherited from her father. In a satisfying conclusion, Phoebe uses her gift to save her grandmother when she falls into a river and to relieve her father's anguish over the loss of his friend. Using vivid language, the author precisely portrays Phoebe's emotions (her frustration with the villagers, her anger over unjust criticism, her shock on discovering her grandmother) and her growth in understanding. Strong human relationships bind the story - between Grandma and her friends, Phoebe and Mrs. Smith, Phoebe and her father. This well-paced, touching story is a worthy addition to the limited collection of easy fiction for Canadians.
Joan Simpson is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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