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Children's Fiction Girls & Women

Seraphina's Circle

A Young Adult Novel

by (author) Jocelyn Shipley

Sumach Press, Three O'Clock Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2005
Girls & Women, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2005
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 11 to 14
  • Grade: 6 to 9


Almost thirteen, Morgan plans to spend her summer training for an all-star track meet, playing rep softball and hanging out with her cool new friend jade. Instead, she is stuck at her grandma's farm for the summer. She and her little cousin Dulcy are drawn to the mystical place they call Seraphina's Circle, under the protective branches of an ancient fir tree. With cornhusk dolls they begin to mingle past with present in re-enactments of events from previous generations. As they fall under the spell of the circle, the cousins become absorbed in the romantic story of Seraphina, their great-aunt who died tragically at a young age. When her older cousin Clare begins to rebel against her own parents' rules, Morgan begins to be afraid that history will repeat itself tragically in their own lives. In Seraphina's Circle, Shipley evokes with her usual skill and sensitivity the complexities of a young teen dealing with unusual challenges.

About the author

Born in London, Ontario, Jocelyn always knew she would be a writer. She has attended The Humber School for Writers, and writes for both children and adults. Her award-winning stories have appeared in anthologies, newspapers and magazines. Her books for teens include Getting A Life, Cross My Heart and Seraphina's Circle. Getting a Life and Cross My Heart were Canadian Children's Book Centre "Our Choice" selections. Seraphina's Circle was nominated for the 2007/2008 BC Stellar Award, listed in Resource Links Best of 2006, and featured in the Anne of Green Gables Book Club.

Jocelyn Shipley's profile page

Librarian Reviews

Seraphina’s Circle

Banished to her grandmother’s farm for the summer, Morgan is furious with her mother. What kind of mother completely disregards her daughter’s wishes and decides that she should spend time in the country where she can work on her attitude and perhaps learn a thing or two from her older cousin Clare? Clare who is beautiful, kind, helpful and responsible... everything that Morgan believes that she is not!

It turns out that Clare may not be so perfect. Against her mother’s wishes, she has been seeing an older boy and she soon recruits Morgan to help them to arrange secret meetings. Uncomfortable about lying to the adults, Morgan soon begins to see eerie parallels between Clare’s present situation and the story of their greataunt Seraphina. When Clare becomes the victim of a horrific accident, Morgan and her family must pull together to deal with their grief, and to maybe let go of the hold that Seraphina’s story has had on them for so long.

In the character of Morgan, Shipley captures the topsy-turvy roller coaster ride of being nearly 13. Morgan is continually torn between the desire to be more mature and the impulse to hang on tight to the child within her. Her emotions seem to constantly flicker from one extreme to another: one minute she hates her mother, but with the next breath she misses her more than words can say; she feels too old to play childish games with her cousin Dulcy, but then finds herself looking forward to making dolls and playing with them in Seraphina’s Circle. It is a turbulent time in a young girl’s life, and that is aptly portrayed here. Unfortunately the story seems to introduce a wealth of questions that remain virtually unanswered at the story’s end and several plot lines are left dangling, yet the reader still is left with the sense that Morgan is beginning to achieve a sense of herself and her place in the world.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Winter 2007. Vol.30 No.1.

Other titles by Jocelyn Shipley