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Children's Nonfiction Social Activists

Changing the Pattern

The Story of Emily Stowe

by (author) Sydell Waxman

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Apr 1996
Social Activists, Girls & Women, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 1996
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 1998
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 1998
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


When Emily Stowe was born in Ontario in 1831, every girl’s life followed a set pattern. Regardless of her personality, intelligence, capabilities or creativity, her future was limited to housework and childcare. Emily Stowe was determined to change that pattern. Sydell Waxman, a writer, researcher and lecturer on women of the 1800s, tells of the events in the life of the young Emily Stowe which caused her to become, not only the first woman school principal and the first woman to practise medicine in Canada, but a pioneer in the fight for women’s rights. With the help of original sketches and archival material, Changing the Pattern also creates a vivid picture of Canada in the late 1800s as it follows Emily’s crusade to create new patterns for girls’ lives.

About the author

Sydell Waxman's eclectic career has encompassed work as an historical researcher, school librarian, museum lecturer, entrepreneur and writer. After graduating from Toronto Teacher’s College, she worked as a teacher-librarian, teaching grades 5 and 6 as well as running the school library and audio-visual department. While raising three children, she returned to University where she majored in English. As her studies continued, she delved into history, women’s studies, special education, journalism and children’s literature. Having published many magazine articles in Canada and the U.S., she has now focused her talents and energies on writing for children. Several of her articles and short stories appear in school anthologies. Her first book Changing the Pattern: The Story of Emily Stowe, (Napoleon 1996) the biography of Canada’s first female physician Emily Stowe, was selected for the Our Choice seal from the CCBC and chosen as winner of the Toronto Heritage Award in 1998. Her second biography, Believing in Books: The Story of Lillian H. Smith (2002) won a pre-publication IBBY Canada Award for outstanding research, called the Frances E. Russell Award. This biography explores the life and times of Canada’s first children’s librarian, taking the exciting life of Lillian Smith from the archives into the public domain. History and entertaining prose are never compromised as Sydell blends the informative with flowing text. Her most recent picture books are set in the past with messages and stories for the future. Set against the bustling backdrop of the 40s garment industry, My Mannequins, released in the fall of 2000 by Napoleon, is a “dream come true” story for a young girl named Dora. The Rooster Prince (2000 Pitsopany Press) goes back further to a nineteenth century rural Russian setting depicting a bright boy, and a prince who thought he was a rooster. Sydell writes daily, researches regularly and entertains children with informative, lively school presentations. An active member of CANSCAIP and of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she compiles a regular column for their cross-Canada newsletter. She teaches Writing for the Children’s Market and Creative Writing for the Toronto Board of Continuing Education.

Sydell Waxman's profile page

Other titles by Sydell Waxman