________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 4 . . . . October 15, 1999

cover Phoebe and the Gypsy.

Andrea Spalding.
Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers,1999.
82 pp., paper, $5.95.
ISBN 1-55143-135-1.

Subject Headings:
Romanies-Juvenile fiction.
Grandmothers-Juvenile fiction.
Visions-Juvenile fiction.
Villages-England-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3 - 5 / Ages 8 - 10.
Review by Joan C. Simpson.

*** /4


Phoebe wandered unhappily into Grandma's kitchen.

"How come everyone bugs me?" she complained.

"We don't see many strangers in this village," Grandma explained.

"It's like I'm the only show in town." cried Phoebe in frustration."Watch Phoebe - The Great Canadian Granddaughter- show repeats every ten minutes!"

Grandma laughed and hugged her. "You are the celebrity of the moment, but don't worry, the village will soon get used to you."

Phoebe remained unconvinced. She took her book down to the end of the back garden, where she lay on the turf under the concealing boughs of a weeping willow tree and listened to the soothing chuckles of the stream.

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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ISSN 1201-9364