Sunday, May 22, 2016

Reading Through History: Canadian Summer by Hilda van Stockum (1948)

In this second of three books based on a fictitious version of author Hilda van Stockum and her family, the Mitchells relocate to Montreal for Father's new job. To Mother's chagrin, the only house available to rent for the summer is a remote and rustic building near a lake without any modern amenities. Despite her initial reservations, however, she, Grannie, and the children have a wonderful time exploring nature and befriending the locals, Mr. Magee (whom the children call Mr. Magic), Mr. Purcell, a young man who uses a wheelchair after being wounded in war,  and Pierre, an artist who lives nearby and delivers the family's groceries.

Like The Open Gate and Miracles on Maple Hill, this is a great family story about kids exploring a new rural environment. The Mitchell children greet their new surroundings with gusto, and their enthusiasm makes for some nerve-wracking and suspenseful scenarios involving injuries and worried parents. French Canadian culture and language permeate the story in a natural and engaging way, and for kids who have never really had to "rough it" the conditions the family must endure are novel and appealing.

I read through this book every bit as quickly as the first one, and loved it for its wholesome portrayal of family and its comforting resolution of all major problems and concerns. It's a good book to curl up with during a summer thunderstorm, and would also make a great read-aloud for those whose French is good enough to pull off a convincing accent.

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