Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Boy of the Deeps

Boy of the Deeps

Ian Wallace
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Groundwood Books, 2005   ISBN: 0888996608

James is now old enough to go down the mine just like his Da. It is his first day on the job, and though he knows what to expect, he still feels nervous. After all, there is a big difference between hearing about the mine and going down it oneself.

Down, down, down James and his Da go. They are working on the day shift and will be digging up coal at the rock face. The mine lies under the Atlantic Ocean and James imagines that he can hear the sound of the water moving over his head.

At the coal wall, James’ Da sets some explosive and blasts away a section of wall so that he and James can collect the coal.  Just as the father and son are about to get back to work after a short lunch break there is a cave in. James finds himself lying under his father’s unmoving body. Is his Da all right and are they going to be able to get out of the mine?

This poignant description of a young boy’s first day working down a mine in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, makes one realize how terrifying and dangerous it was to be a miner in the days when all the work was done my men and boys wielding picks and shovels.

Based on the story of the author’s own grandfather who worked down an English mine when he was boy, this is a powerful and very meaningful picture book that paints a picture in words and illustrations of what it was like to be a child who had to work for a living.