Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 13
- Grade: 4
- Reading age: 9 to 13
Peggy is trying to run away from home. Instead she finds herself thrust into a fantasy world she created as a child. As the Creator, Peggy is the only one who can stop the evil force, Nobodaddy, threatening to destroy Notherland.
About the author
Kathleen McDonnell grew up in Chicago, but has lived in Canada for all of her adult life and graduated with a BA from the University of Toronto. She is the author of nine books of non-fiction and YA fiction. She's also written more than a dozen plays, many of which have had award-winning productions in Canada and the United States. As befits a passionate swimmer, McDonnell lives on Toronto Island; a unique, vibrant, mostly car-free community a ten-minute ferry ride from downtown Toronto where she and her life partner Alec raised their two daughters, Martha and Ivy.
Many young children fantasize about imaginary friends and imaginary worlds, fictionalizing heroes and villains from their real-life experiences and turning them into make-believe.
Fifteen-year-old Peggy is far too old for the imaginary world of her past, but when she discovers that the world she created in her imagination as a child still exists, and is populated by fantastic creatures who depend upon her for survival, she is faced with a unique dilemma. On the one hand, she feels little connection to this old world of her early childhood, and is skeptical of its physical existence even after she has been pulled out of the real world and away to Notherland by the very characters she created. On the other, she remembers everything around her--the pirate-doll Molly, the talking loon Gavi, and the Nordlings, creatures of light whose singing is beautiful to behold. And they're all depending on her to stay and help them defeat the evil Nobodaddy, another creature of Peggy's creation, who lives at the Hole in the Pole and has been tracking down and kidnapping the childlike Nordlings for their light and song.
Peggy must struggle with her conscience to decide whether she should stay and help out in this world she created as a child, or return to the world in which she must live as an adult.
The characters in this story are much like those that you would expect a young child to dream up as companions to get her through an unsatisfying childhood. Likewise, the world of Notherland has all the coherence of a child's daydream--there are loons and dolls who talk, boys who are transformed into trees, ships marooned in the middle of seas of ice, and a hole where the North Pole should be. But instead of making the world seem scattered, these details add to the sense of childish whimsy that overtakes the reader during the passages that occur in Notherland.
You can't help but remember what it was like when the world was younger and simpler, and to sympathize with Peggy's desire to keep this childhood world pure. And in the meantime, she learns about herself and perhaps begins to understand what it means to grow up without becoming old.
The first book of a trilogy, a Canadian Childrens Book Centre Choice, The Nordlings are the inhabitants of the Notherland world. Peggy, or Pay-Gee as the Nordlings refer to her, imagined this wonderful world into being when she was a young girl. Now a disillusioned and angry 15 year old, she is brought back to Notherland.
Notherland is in trouble and in danger of disappearing altogether. During Peggy’s four year absence, her imaginary world has undergone some changes and taken on a life of its own, not all of it good. She has been called back by her Notherland friends who consider her the Creator of their world and therefore the only one who can save it. The Nordlings are disappearing and only one is left. Peggy must somehow gather the courage, imagination and belief to defeat the feared and sinister Nobodaddy who dwells in the cold and dark “Hole at the Pole”.
Kathleen McDonnell has crafted a wonderful story of adventure while also imparting some important lessons for life. Colour and music, two of the strongest senses of peace and joy, are a major influence in the feel of Notherland. Her books keep me enveloped in a cozy cocoon of memories of childhood imagination. She takes me out of my adult worries and transports me very effectively. I, a grandmother, delight in reading the adventures in Notherland and am looking forward to handing these books over to my young grandchildren when they get older.
The second book of THE NOTHERLAND JOURNEYS series takes up about a year after the first book's conclusion.
Peggy is an ordinary teenager. Dissatisfied with her life and wishing for independence, she sets off to sell her flute at a pawnshop in an attempt to earn some money of her own. Instead events take a different turn and she falls into a fantasy world that she remembers from her childhood fantasies, but never thought was real. Things have changed in The Notherland in her absence, and it's no longer the happy safe world she had visited as a child. Peggy doesn't want to be trapped in this strange place, but when she discovers that her childhood friends may be in danger, she sets aside her desires and sets out to save the land she once created.
Perfect for young readers who enjoy engaging fantasy stories, The Norderlings is a well thought out adventure that's sure to entertain. A wide variety of unique and imaginative characters populate Peggy's fantasy-land, all of which will be relatable to children who like to dream up playmates. The whimsical story is filled with exciting twists and turns, while subtly sharing a few life lessons along the way.
Other titles by Kathleen McDonnell
Growing Old, Going Cold
Notes on Swimming, Aging, and Finishing Last
Journey Toward a World to Come
Honey, We Lost the Kids
Re-thinking childhood in the multimedia age
Putting On a Show
Theater for Young People
The Shining World
Not an Easy Choice
A Feminist Re-examines Abortion