Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Pioneer Girl

Pioneer Girl

Maryanne Carswell
Illustrator:  Lindsay Grater 
For ages 10 to 14
Tundra Books, 2001   ISBN: 0887765505

Fourteen-year-old Maryanne and her family are going to leave their home in Palmerston, Ontario. Her father, who was a shopkeeper, has decided to become a homesteader on the prairie near the “city” of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan. Maryanne’s grandmother asks Maryanne to write to her, which Maryanne faithfully does. In her letters, she tells her grandmother all about their long journey from Palmerston to the homestead.

The journey begins on April 12, 1887, when Maryanne and her mother and siblings get on a train. They travel all the way to Moose Jaw where all their belongings and supplies are loaded onto a wagon. Two oxen will pull the wagon to the homestead, and while her mother and siblings ride in the wagon, Maryanne will walk, driving the sheep and Shorthorn cattle that the family will need when they reach their land.

The journey is a hard one, and Maryanne is eager to reach Saskatoon. When they get there, she discovers that the so-called ‘city’ has only fourteen buildings. Maryanne then realizes that she and her family are truly in the middle of nowhere and she wishes she could go back to Palmerston.

Though Maryanne wrote her letters so long ago, her voice will still resonate with young readers who have undertaken their own adventures and journeys. Her courage and good humor comes though clearly, as do her feelings of despair during those moments when she feels quite overwhelmed by the her circumstances.