About the Author

Janet Lunn

JANET LUNN is the author of more than fifteen books for young readers including The Root Cellar and Shadow in Hawthorn, Charlotte and Laura Second. She has been the recipient of the Governor General’s award for children’s literature, CLA Book of the Year for Children, and the Canada Council Award for Children’s Literature. The Story of Canada won her the Mr. Christie Book Award and the Toronto Branch IODE Award. She currently lives in Ottawa.

Books by this Author
Double Spell

The twins found the doll on a cold wet Saturday in early spring. They found it in an antique shop, which was odd because neither Jane nor Elizabeth had ever thought of going into an antique shop before. At age twelve, they didn’t think much about dolls anymore, either. And yet, on this rainy Saturday morning, they did both.

They were hurrying up Yonge Street, already late home, not paying much attention to anyone or anything they passed, when suddenly they stopped. Both at once, as though they’d been jerked by an invisible cord. They turned, splashed across the sidewalk, and stared into the window of a little shop. ANTIQUES, DOLLS MENDED, it said in scratched gold letters across its front. In the window there were old books, bits of tarnished jewelry, china dolls’ heads, old cups – and the little wooden doll.

The doll was about seven inches high, with arms that stuck straight out from its sides. Its clothes were a dress and bonnet of a bygone time, tattered and faded to a soft pink-brown color. Its feet were a pair of black velvet boots with most of the velvet gone. The paint was worn from its face and chipped in spots. Except for its eyes, which were still a deep and shining blue, the doll was a neglected and forlorn little thing. Not a beauty in any way.

What was it about the doll? Jammed between a dusty green glass bowl and a broken clock, it was hard to see. But the twins had seen it, it had stopped them, pulled them, and held them spellbound.

For quite a while, they stood and stared. People bumped past. Rain drizzled uncomfortably down the necks of their yellow slickers and into the tops of their boots. Still they stood.

“Let’s go look,” Elizabeth said finally, walking toward the shop entrance.

“We promised to go home and baby-sit William,” Jane remembered.

“We only need to stay a minute.” Elizabeth’s foot was already on the doorstep.

Usually it was sensible Jane who prevailed but this time, probably because she wanted to so badly, she followed her sister.

Inside, the shop was dark and dusty but warm. All the twins could see at first were vague shapes that turned out, in a minute or two, to be high-backed chairs, bedsteads, tables, and more of the things that cluttered the window.

From somewhere at the back, a woman appeared – “sort of like a fairy godmother right up out of nowhere,” Elizabeth said later when she was telling William about it. She was little and old like the doll and seemed to belong to the shop. “How do you do,” she said, and Elizabeth was encouraged by her warm smile.

“We … we’d like to see the little doll please,” she stammered. Elizabeth didn’t usually stammer. She felt strange and nervous.

“Which doll is it?” asked the woman. “We have quite a few as you can see.”

And, now they could see, the twins noticed that one whole long wall was covered with shelves full of dolls.

Jane took charge. “It’s the one in the window. That one.” She walked over and pointed to the straight back of the window doll.

“Oh,” the woman sounded regretful, “I’m afraid that one isn’t for sale. It’s quite old, you see. I use it just for show.”

Elizabeth felt she had to hold the doll, if only once. “Could we look at it in here, just for a minute,” she pleaded.

“I don’t see why not.” The twins watched breathlessly as the woman reached into the window case, lifted the doll out, and put it carefully into the two pairs of hands stretched out.

Their fingers touched the face gently, straightened the bonnet on its head, smoothed the old shawl. It was not a battered antique doll they held, not at this moment. It was a familiar loved thing, long lost, almost forgotten.

The feeling was gone almost at once, faded, but leaving behind, like a trailing cloud, a slight sense of somewhere else.

With a great sigh Elizabeth handed it to the shop woman. The woman took it, but didn’t move to put it back in the window. She held it, looked at it as though she were trying to make up her mind.

“How much money have you got?” she asked.

The twins poked hands into their pockets and pulled out two dollars and fifty-three cents all told.

“That’ll do,” the woman said. “I’ll get the box.” She was gone and back before they quite realized what she was doing.

The box was as old-looking as the doll. It was leather, just big enough to hold the doll. The leather had peeled off in many spots. More of it rubbed off as the shop woman held it. Its color was faded like the doll’s dress to that same pink-brown shade. It was decorated with studs around its edges and had an elaborately worked catch.

With great care the woman wrapped the doll in a piece of blue cloth from the box, laid it inside, and closed the lid.

“I ­don’t know why I’m doing this,” she scolded herself. “I should have my head read, I really should, but the doll seems to belong to you. I’d never feel right about keeping it now, I ­wouldn’t. You take care of it. You take care of it.” She thrust the box into Elizabeth’s hands.

The twins were too bewildered by what had happened to them and too surprised by this sudden gift to say anything. At last Jane remembered her manners.

“Thank you. Thank you very much. We will.” She started toward the door.

“Yes,” said Elizabeth vaguely. It was all she could think of to say. “Yes,” she said again, and trotted after her sister.

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Laura Secord

Laura Secord

A Story of Courage
by Janet Lunn
illustrated by Maxwell Newhouse
also available: Paperback
tagged : historical
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Shadow in Hawthorn Bay

Come, Mairi!

Come, Mairi! Come you here!”

“Duncan, I cannot! Here is the lamb making sore trouble getting itself into the world. Come you to me!”

Mary went back to her work. Swiftly she turned and tugged the struggling lamb, crooning softly all the while, until, with a cry of triumph, she held it firmly in her two hands.

“There now, Sally, there is your wee uan,” she murmured. She laid the lamb beside its mother. It began at once to suckle. Gently stroking the ewe’s still heaving sides, Mary sat back on her heels, tossed her thick black hair from her sweaty face, and watched with satisfaction as the ewe began to clean her baby. Only then did she realize that Duncan had not called from the other side of the hill. He was three thousand miles away in Upper Canada. Yet he had called! Sudden tears prickled her eyes. In four years it was the first time she had heard his voice. He had sworn so often they could never be parted in life or death but he had gone away. And barely a word since.

“While you are gone,” she had said, “we will still be together, Duncan. Our thoughts will travel the miles. And you will be soon home.” Mary had never doubted that. She and Duncan had always been like one person, two halves of a whole. Cousins, they might as well have been twins, they had been so inseparable -- until Uncle Davie and Aunt Jean had decided to leave the Highlands. Over the plaintive cry of the lapwings, the chirping of the thrushes, and the ewe and her baby bleating softly at one another, she heard Duncan’s voice again, “Come, Mairi!” In it there was a note of such pain, such urgency, she could feel the sharpness of it in her own breast.

“How can I?” she cried aloud. “How can I?”

“Was you wanting help with the ewe, Mairi?” Annie Morrison called from across the field.

“I was not.”

“Come away then, it is dinner time.”

“In a minute.” Mary rested on her heels, pulling her plaid around her against the chill April wind and fine rain. She looked down the green slope over the valley and the hills beyond, remembering the day Duncan had left the glen. Everyone in the township had gone down to the wide path by Loch Ness to see them off. The sun was shining on their six dark heads -- Uncle Davie, Aunt Jean, Callum, the baby, Iain, and Duncan. Standing beside the cart that held the few Cameron possessions they would take with them, tears large in his black eyes, Duncan had promised, “I will come home, Mairi. Next year I will be twelve, I will be soon grown, and I will earn the money to come home.”

But it had been four years and the only word he had ever sent was a brief letter in English, not in the Gaelic they all spoke, a letter enclosed in one of Uncle Davie’s a year after they had gone away.

Upper Canada near the settlement of Collivers’ Corners 10th day of July, 1812
Dear Mary,
Here the land is low and dark with forest. We are expected to make crofts of it.
your cousin,
Duncan Cameron

Mary hated it. And she had every word memorized. There was nothing in it of the Duncan she knew, of what he was feeling -- beyond those mournful words “dark with forest” -- and there was nothing in it of plans to come home. There had been letters from Uncle Davie and Aunt Jean to Mary’s mother and father, letters to say that life was hard but good in Upper Canada, letters urging them to emigrate. But although she had written and written to him, there had never been another letter from Duncan, nor any sign at all.

“Four years,” Mary thought bitterly. “Four years and the two of us fifteen years old already. Is it not old enough to be earning the passage home? And now you call me to come to you. Och, Duncan, you know I cannot do that.”

Returning to the present, Mary gave the ewe a final loving pat and rose to her feet. Absently she crossed the field to eat her bannock and her bit of cheese with the other young herders who had gathered in the lee of the hill.

The talk was all of May Morning, the big spring festival only a week away.

“And Mairi, you will have your rowan wreath and your May Morning fire made, and your bannock rolled down the hill, and you be halfway up Clachan Mountain before the rest of us are out from our beds,” laughed Jenny Macintyre.

“And I wonder do you ever go to bed at all before May Morning?” sighed Callum Grant.

“I would be a bent old woman did I wait for you to rise, Callum Grant,” retorted Mary.

The others laughed, full of the joy of summer coming. The first of May was Beltane, the ancient festival with its ritual fires on every hilltop, its bannock rolling, and the herding of cows and sheep and goats up into fresh pastures in the high hills. There the women and young people would stay in their shielings, the little rough mountain huts, all summer while the men farmed in the lower hills. In the autumn they would trek home again, people and animals fat and happy.

The chatter went on but Duncan’s call and the terrible need in it were so powerful that Mary got suddenly to her feet and, without a word, left the group. The others took little notice. They were used to Mary’s abrupt ways.

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Story of Canada

New Revised Edition
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The Hollow Tree

By the River

Throughout all her long life, Phoebe Olcott never forgot a single moment of the last happy afternoon she spent at home by the Connecticut River. It was on a day in May, in the year 1775, and she spent it in her favourite spot on the river bank on the Vermont side.

Phoebe lived with her father in the little wilderness settlement of Hanover, on the New Hampshire side of the wide river. Five years earlier, their ox carts piled high with their belongings, the Olcotts had made the long trek north from their settled town in Connecticut when Eleazer Wheelock had moved both his Presbyterian college and the Indian school north to Hanover. Jonathan Olcott had come to teach at the college.

Teachers and students alike had set to, with a will, to fell the enormous white pines and build their habitations, but, in 1775, the college was still only a collection of rough buildings surrounding the stump-filled clearing called The Green. To Phoebe it was the centre of the world and she loved it. She loved the big unpainted dormitories and classrooms and the big college barn at the corner of The Green. She loved Dr. Wheelock’s house, which everyone called The Mansion House. She loved the ringing sound of iron on iron that emerged from the fiery depths of Israel Curtis’s blacksmith shop as he fashioned horseshoes and door hinges and fire boxes, and she loved Master Seaver’s carpentry shop with its scent of fresh pine wood shavings. She even loved Captain Storr’s tavern, although she never went there and the laughter and the shouts that erupted from within it sometimes frightened her. She liked the young men better when they came bursting through her own cabin door, drunk on ideas and not on rum.

They came, fired up to argue Greek philosophy and Christian doctrine with Phoebe’s father. Sometimes they came with pigeons, partridges, rabbits, or deer slung over their shoulders, ready to butcher for Phoebe to roast over her fire. Phoebe’s quiet ways were popular with them. They called her pet names like Mouse, the name her cousin Gideon had for her, or Little Bird, the name the Mohawk Peter Sauk called her.

Phoebe would squeeze herself between the log wall and the edge of the big stone fireplace in the front room and listen to the talk with longing. She would have liked to join in, but she was too shy. However, she was not too shy to think about the talk and to wish that women could become students at the college and teach there. One day, she supposed, she would marry one of her father’s students. He would become a teacher like her father, and life would go on as it had for as long as she could remember.

Her mother and her infant brother had died of measles when she was four. She could remember nothing at all about her brother. She remembered her mother’s smile and her soft, low singing, but there was little time in that backwoods life to long or to grieve.

She had had to begin at age four to care for her father and herself. Now, at thirteen, as well as the book learning she had from her father, she could cook wild animals and plants from the forest, as well as the potatoes, pumpkins, and onions she grew in her tiny garden patch. She could spin the tough-fibred flax and soft wool, then weave them together into the linsey-woolsey cloth out of which she made shirts and breeches for her father and simple gowns for herself. Sometimes she even managed to dye the cloth with red from the wild puccoon or brown from the sumac. As well she had learned to make sure her father had his books under his arm, his comforter around his neck, his hat on his head, and his bit of meat and bread in his coat pocket every morning before he set out across The Green to meet his students.

Phoebe often thought of life in the little settlement surrounded by the endless forest as like being inside her cabin with a storm raging outside. The settlement seemed like a haven against all that wildness.

But on this bright afternoon in May, she was not thinking about any of that. She had turned her back on her housework, and she was refusing to think about the war her father and his students always talked about of late. Thoughts of how her impulsive father might rush off to fight in a war made her feel sick in her stomach. No, she could not think about that. She tucked her shawl into her waistband and, bunching her skirts tightly in her hands, she hurried down the steep Hanover hill to the little cove where Master Starling kept his canoe. In exchange for doing his mending, Master Starling, the old bachelor who worked for the blacksmith, let Phoebe use his canoe. She was too frugal to pay the tuppence for the rope ferry and, besides, she loved to pit the strength of her arms against the river’s strong current. Skilfully she paddled across the big dark river to the western shore, to where a brook tumbled into the river beside a small beaver meadow about the size of the Olcotts’ tiny cabin, protected from the encroaching forest by five giant willow trees.

The sun was high in a deep blue sky, but the air was chilly. A stiff breeze from the east had made the journey easier for Phoebe but hard going for a flock of geese working their way north. As she neared the shore, a pair of otters dived into the water, alarming a blue jay perched on a low branch of one of the willows. It took off with an indignant screech.

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The Root Cellar


It was a cold wet afternoon in October when Rose Larkin came to live in the house at Hawthorn Bay. Rain dripped from the branches of the big horse-chestnut tree in the front yard and hung in large drops from the tangle of bushes around the house. Rose stood in the driveway, where Aunt Stella had left her, feeling that she had never been in a place more dismal in all her life. Its bleakness seemed to echo her own sense of being completely abandoned. In the weeks since the death of her grandmother she had been shipped from relative to relative and finally delivered -- like a package, she thought bitterly -- to an aunt and uncle she had never seen.

Rose was an orphan. Her mother and father had been killed in a car crash when she was three years old, and she had gone to live with her mother’s mother in New York City. Her grandmother was a business woman who traveled all over the world. An austere woman, more dutiful than loving, she took Rose with her everywhere she went, which meant that Rose spent as much time in hotels as she did in their apartment on upper Fifth Avenue in New York.

Grandmother did not believe in schools. “They teach only what’s fashionable -- and that not very well,” she snorted. So every evening, from the day Rose was five, they did lessons together. Every morning Rose had to do homework. Every afternoon she was free to do as she pleased. Wet days she read or explored the hotel. Fine days she poked around shops or went to museums or movies in foreign languages. She often sat for hours in parks, watching people -- old people feeding the birds, shoppers, strollers, mothers or fathers with their children. Rose had never known other children and they fascinated her. She often longed to speak to them, sometimes even to become part of their games, but they frightened her. They were apt to be rough and make loud jokes, and she was afraid she wouldn’t know what to say to them. Her grandmother told her more than once that she was better off without them, that she would learn more about being an adult if she associated only with adults.

In consequence she didn’t know much about living with people. She and her grandmother were like two polite strangers together. Rose had learned early that when she was quiet and obedient her grandmother was pleasant -- and not so pleasant when she wasn’t. The death of her parents had left her with a nagging fear that her grandmother too might disappear if she misbehaved, so she became a stiff, self-possessed child about whom many said she was more like a china doll than a little girl. She didn’t look like a china doll. Her bright red hair was pulled tightly into two neat braids. She had a long nose and her face was pointed, which gave her a slightly elfish look and sometimes led strangers to expect mischief or humor until they looked more closely at her set chin, her mouth so firmly shut, and the guarded expression that was too often in her large gray eyes.

Without other children, an alien among adults, Rose came to the conclusion when she was about eight that she didn’t belong in the world. She believed she was a creature from somewhere else. She could no longer remember her mother or father, and she figured that the story about her having parents was made up to keep her from finding the truth. She hadn’t the least idea where she might have come from, but she had absolute faith that one day she would go back there. Meanwhile she did her best to mind her own business and keep out of everyone’s way. She was often lonely, but she had early accepted loneliness as a condition of her life.

The year Rose turned twelve, her grandmother decided she should go to boarding school in Paris. They went to Paris together, and the first night, in their hotel room, her grandmother had a heart attack. Rose was paralyzed with fear.

“Don’t stand there gaping, child,” her grandmother croaked between gasps of pain. “Call the desk. Get a doctor.” Feeling as though her feet were made of lead, like someone in a nightmare, Rose did as she was told, and she went along in the ambulance to the hospital and sat in the waiting room while her grandmother was wheeled off on a stretcher. She forced herself to think of nothing while doctors and nurses bustled around her. Half an hour later the doctor came to tell her that her grandmother had died.

Stunned, she managed a polite nod and said stiffly, “Merci, monsieur.” She took a taxi back to the hotel, phoned Great-Aunt Millicent in New York, and waited for Great-Uncle Arnold to come on the night plane. Her hands shook and she had no appetite, but otherwise she managed to remain calm and possessed all through the trip home and the funeral afterward.

She spent a week with each of her grandmother’s sisters, after which they had a meeting in Great-Aunt Millicent’s apartment. Rose sat rigidly on the edge of her chair. Uncle Arnold said he thought she ought to be sent to school, Aunt Millicent said she wasn’t sure what should be done, and Aunt Stella said, “Why not send her to Nan Henry’s?”

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The Story Of Canada

New Revised Edition
also available: Hardcover Paperback
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The Big Book of Canada

The Big Book of Canada

Exploring the Provinces and Territories
by Christopher Moore
introduction by Janet Lunn
illustrated by Bill Slavin
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The Big Book of Canada (Updated Edition)

The Big Book of Canada (Updated Edition)

Exploring the Provinces and Territories
by Christopher Moore
introduction by Janet Lunn
illustrated by Bill Slavin
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