Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
A young girl survives the deadliest natural disaster in Canadian history — but a family secret could call into question everything she thought she knew about her life before the tragedy.
After her father dies, Abby and her family move west to live with relatives who run a hotel in the mining town of Frank, Alberta. Abby keeps busy helping out at the hotel, being chief caregiver to her little brother with Down Syndrome, and learning Morse code at the telegraph office.
When the devastating Frank Slide buries much of the town, Abby must do all she can to help. But a long-buried family secret emerged just before the disaster — and now she will have to wait for the dust to settle before getting the answers she so desperately wants.
Inspired by two of her own relatives, one who helped run a telegraph office in the late 1800s and another who shares Abby's story (and her family secret), Jean Little crafts a compelling story rich with emotion and historical detail.
About the author
Jean Little was born in Taiwan in 1932. Her parents were both doctors. Jean grew up in Ontario and graduated from the University of Toronto. She was born with a severe eye problem and is severely visually impaired. A special "talking" computer assists her with her writing. She has a retired seeing-eye dog named Ritz and a new one named Pippa, with whom she travels. The author focuses on her experiences from the time she was a child through young adulthood in her autobiography, Little by Little, and continues her story in Stars Come Out Within. The books, which will appeal to children 10 and older, are both humorous and poignant as Jean describes living with a disability and the ridicule she sometimes experienced as a result, as well as her love for the world of reading and books. Jean's books include From Anna, Listen for the Singing, Stand In The Wind, Mama's Going To Buy You a Mockingbird, Hey World, Here I Am!, Look through My Window, Emma's Yucky Brother, The Belonging Place, and Mine For Keeps. Listen for the Singing was the Canada Council Children's Literature Award winner in 1977. Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird was the CLA Book of the Year in 1985.
Jean Little's first book, Mine for Keeps, won the Little, Brown Children's Book Award in 1962 and was republished by Viking Penguin in 1995. It tells the story of Sally Copeland, a 10 year old with cerebral palsy, and her adjustment to being home after spending several years in a special school. You'll find that several of the themes in this book appear in a number of the author's other books: dealing with a handicap and the responses of others, fitting in, and adjusting to new situations and surroundings.
- Short-listed, Hackmatack Children's Choice Award (Atlantic Canada)
- Commended, Rocky Mountain Book Award (Alberta Children's Choice)
- Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre
Praise for Jean Little:
"The period comes to life under her pen, and so do the characters . . . A delightful read." —The Toronto Star (for Exiles From the War)
"The book is eloquently written, expertly paced, and emotionally resonant . . . an excellent and enjoyable story." —Canadian Review of Materials (for Orphan at My Door)
Other titles by Jean Little
A Long Way Home
Le long chemin
Harry's Hiccups Read-Along
Listen for the Singing
Dear Canada: Hoping for Home
Stories of Arrival
Once Upon a Golden Apple
25th Anniversary Edition
Pippin the Christmas Pig
Hand in Hand
Inspired by the real-life story of Helen Keller and Martha Washington
Dear Canada: Exiles from the War
The War Guest Diary of Charlotte Mary Twiss, Guelph, Ontario, 1940