________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 7 . . . .November 25, 2005


Seraphina’s Circle.

Jocelyn Shipley.
Toronto, ON: Sumach Press, 2005.
141 pp., pbk., $10.95.
ISBN 1-894549-51-1.

Subject Headings:
Maturation (Psychology)-Juvenile fiction.
Family-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**** /4



"Dear Mom, Sorry I didn't write sooner but there's always so much to do. Like gathering eggs and sewing quilt squares and watching the corn grow. You know. Anyway, you asked what's new. Nothing! Mostly I play dolls with Dulcy, which really makes me feel mature. I don't see much of Clare - she's got better things to do. So the summer sure is working out the way you planned. Don't miss ya, luv, Morgan."

"Dear Morgan, Please realize parents have certain responsibilities. One is doing what they think best, whether their children like it or not. I'm sorry Clare's so busy—I did hope you could spend time with her. She's a lovely girl. But I still think staying at the farm will be good for you. Why not relax and keep an open mind? Who knows what might happen?"


Rather than a summer preparing for an all-star track meet, spending time with her new girlfriend, Jade, and hopefully attracting the attention of good-looking Jeff, Morgan is at her grandmother's farm to spend time with Clare, her seemingly perfect cousin, or to entertain 10-year-old Dulcy. In Morgan's own words, "My punishment couldn't be worse. I'm banished."

      Dulcy and Morgan use cornhusk dolls to re-enact old family stories as well as more recent events between Clare and her boyfriend, Renzo. Strangely, the past and present seem to somehow mingle and come to resemble one another more and more. Can history actually repeat itself? Is this linked to spending so much time under Seraphina, the ancient fir tree named for a great-aunt who died tragically? Are there connections between generations which turn into self-fulfilling prophecies?

      Canadian author Jocelyn Shipley has another winner in her young adult novel, Seraphina's Circle. The plot contains enough mystery, romance and tragedy to keep readers avidly turning pages...and lamenting when they reach the final page. Morgan, who is almost 13-years-old, faces all the challenges and difficulties of being a young teen, and readers watch her fumble with her own feelings and with her dealings with others. Yet, out of these mistakes, she gains understanding and insight. Shipley uses appropriate dialogue and vivid description which bring Morgan to life at that age when she is neither child nor adult. As Morgan, herself, says, "I don't know—after wanting so much to grow up, now I wish I could be a little kid again."

      Shipley has written a true-to-life story which is engrossing for readers. Past family history combines with turbulent present events in Morgan's life, and the two keep the reader enjoying and anticipating right to the end of the book.

Highly Recommended.

Ann Ketcheson is a former teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French. She lives in Ottawa, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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