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Children's Fiction General

Something To Hang On To

by (author) Beverley Brenna

Thistledown Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2009
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2009
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 12 to 18
  • Grade: 7 to 10


In Something to Hang On To award?winning author Beverley Brenna constructs a diverse cast of quirky and honest young teens in tough times. In varied settings characters battle through adversity: a fear of heights, family violence, the physical cage of Down syndrome, ossifying muscular dystrophy, the artistic world of autism, and even a toe caught in the vacuum.

In these positive fictions, teens find ways to overcome their obstacles by capturing lasting resolutions from within. In “Foil Butterflies? a creative boy with a rare form of autism escapes to his tree house to write poetry and personify gum wrappers. Set in pre?colonial Canada, “Gift of the Old Wives? is a story about a young Cree girl with a unique gift, which allows her to predict an impending Blackfoot attack on her tribe. In “Finding Your Voice? an exceptional and unconditional friendship is made between an insular foster child and a girl immobilized by muscular dystrophy. In “One of the Guys? Brenna employs rare writing mechanics in a first person narration of a boogey boarding teen boy who finds solace in ocean waves.

By using effective problem solving to overcome the seemingly impossible, these characters become encouraging examples for all teens to look within for resolve and to reach out to others in need. The twelve stories that comprise Something to Hang On To vary in time, place, and voice offering pathos as well as zany humour, creating maximum appeal for their reading audience.

About the author

Beverley Brenna is known for her warm, funny family stories that capture the essence of childhood and champion diversity. Her awards include an international Dolly Gray Award, a Printz Honor Book Award, and a shortlisting for the 2013 Governor General’s Award. Wild Orchid, the title book in a trilogy about a young woman on the Autism Spectrum, is currently listed on CBC’s “100 Young Adult Books That Make You Proud To Be Canadian”. Bev is a professor in Curriculum Studies at the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, where she teaches English Language Arts subject matter to preservice and inservice teachers. Much of Bev’s writing seeks to fill in gaps in the field of available books, and she considers voices rarely heard in children’s literature. Bev’s many years as a classroom and special education teacher offer her a clear picture of school landscapes, children, and childhood, and the years she spent at home co-parenting three sons continue to inspire new characters and themes.

Beverley Brenna's profile page

Librarian Reviews

Something To Hang On To

This collection of short stories features an intriguing mix of characters facing a multitude of diverse life situations. Some are at monumental moments in their lives – like William who is at his father’s bedside as the end of his life draws near, and Dexter who is preparing to face his fear and jump out of a plane. Others are rising to more personal challenges, including Bishop who struggles to keep from rocking while trying to overcome his fear of dogs. Then there is Taylor, whom readers may recall from Brenna’s earlier novel Wild Orchid. In this story Taylor is doing the best she can to get through a job interview for which she feels ill-prepared. These and other characters we meet in these pages both inspire and enlighten readers as we are treated to a brief glimpse of their colourful lives.

As a whole, this is a sensitive and finely-drawn collection. This reader was particularly moved by several of the stories, most notably Gift of the Old Wives and Finding Your Voice. The first of these is based on a Cree legend and tells the story of the enormous gift that these old wives gave to their people, a gift of sacrifice, a gift that “we have earned the right to give,” says the young girl’s grandmother. The latter of these stories is a powerful story of friendship and the wisdom of children who so often see the beauty and truth where we do not. And while some of the young people in this collection contend with disorders such as autism, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy and Asperger’s syndrome, this is not a book about disabilities. Rather, it is a book that gently but surely reminds us just how much we all need “something to hang on to.”

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2009. Vol.32 No.4.

Something To Hang On To

These short stories feature a diverse cast of quirky and honest teens in tough times. In varied settings, characters battle through different forms of adversity. The collection depicts teens who wish to be seen for their abilities and interests, not as disabled by single traits or unfortunate situations.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2010.

Other titles by Beverley Brenna