It is 1981. Six-year-old Tuan Ho, his mother and three sisters are living in Ho Chi Minh City with relatives and anxiously waiting for word from his father and eldest sister who escaped Vietnam the previous year. Returning home from school one day, Tuan finds a jug of water and bags of dried food at the door. His mother announces that she cannot wait any longer; they are leaving.
In the middle of the night, the family creeps from the house, and boards a truck heading for the coast. They hide in bushes until the small skiffs appear, and then race toward them through gun fire. The skiffs head for a fishing boat that waits offshore.
Before long, that boat has sixty people aboard, all desperate to escape Vietnam. Families huddle together. Children fall asleep to the sound of the motor and waves.
Tuan wakes to a hot sun burning down on him. Though his throat is parched, he can have only a capful of water. The trip, his mother tells him, will take four days and one jug of water is all they have.
On the second day, the boat springs a leak. Tuan’s mother and aunt take turns bailing water but few others offer to help. The captain offers them a bottle of water in thanks, which they hide away.
Tuan wakes to silence on the third day. The motor has stopped and the fishing boat is adrift at sea. With dwindling food and water, the refugees aboard the leaking boat are in an increasing desperate situation.
On the fifth day, Tuan spots another boat in the distance, also adrift. That night, the other boat goes up in flames. The captain explains that the other boat has mistaken theirs for a rescue ship and lit a fire to get their attention. The refugees watch in horror as the other boat is overtaken by fire and sinks. Afterward, Tuan cannot sleep. He fears that they, too, will die at sea. He gets up and helps his mother bail water. He hears her gasp as she spots dolphins swimming in the waters before. “it is a sign,” she says, and they are both comforted.
The next day, an American aircraft carrier appears on the horizon. A rope ladder is lowered and slowly, carefully, Tuan and the other refugees climb to the deck of the massive ship. A sailor lifts the boy from the ladder, smiles, and offers him a glass of cold milk. Tuan and his fellow refugees are safe.
Written by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch with Tuan Ho and illustrated by Brian Deines, Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s story of Survival is the true story of a young boy’s experience of escape from Vietnam, survival adrift at sea with his family and dozens of other refugees, and their eventual rescue by an American naval vessel. Representative of the experience of many Vietnamese-Canadians, this perilous account of the a family of Vietnamese boat people is an important event in our collective history. Tuan, his sisters and parents now live in Canada.
Born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1871, Emily Carr studied art in San Francisco before returning home to teach art classes to children and paint. From her earliest years as an artist, she was interested in, and sketched and painted the villages and cultural artifacts of the Aboriginal peoples of the Pacific Northwest.
In her 30s, Carr spent several years in England and then Paris where she discovered modern art. She returned to Victoria in 1912 with her own striking post-impressionist style of painting.
Shortly after her return, Carr made a six-week trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands and the Skeena River, where she made a visual record of totem poles and other material history of the Haida, Gitksan and Tsimshaian. In those drawings and sketches, Carr found the two major themes of her greatest works of art; the cultural history of the west coast’s Aboriginal people and the landscape of this region.
Carr pursued her new artistic vision for several years, but her work received little interest or support from the pubic. Unable to live from the sale of her art, she gave up painting and opened a boarding house.
In 1928, Eric Brown, the director of the National Gallery of Canada contacted Carr. The Gallery was organizing an exhibition of West Coast Aboriginal art in Ottawa, and wanted to see her pictures. Fifty pieces of her work were included in the show, and Carr’s rail passage to Ottawa was paid for by the Gallery so that she could attend the opening reception.
There she met Lauren Harris and other members of the Group of Seven. They recognized in her a kindred spirit; she was thrilled to discover in them a passion for representing the rugged landscape in new and distinctly Canadian ways. Energized by her visit east, Emily Carr returned home to British Columbia and resumed painting.
With the money she earned from sales of her work, Emily bought a caravan which allowed her to spend weeks at a time painting in remote locations. She painted until 1941, when poor health forced her to put down her brushes.
In his beautifully written and illustrated book Four Pictures by Emily Carr, graphic artist Nicolas Debon recounts the life and career of this pre-eminent Canadian artist through the stories of four of her most iconic pictures. A wonderful book for readers – and art lovers – from six year old!
After 50 years, his grandfather is retiring from farming and moving to town to be near family. Todd has come for the auction. Farm equipment, furniture and household items are organized neatly on the front lawn, ready for the auctioneer’s hammer.
Gramps is at the front door, offering a cold drink, but Todd wants to say hello to the animals. By the time his grandfather catches up with him, the boy is standing bereft in the empty barn.
“You sold all the animals!” Todd yells.
“I had to.”
Hearing something in the old man’s voice, Todd turns to see that his grandfather is crying. He starts crying. too.
Old man and young boy, they walk to the bluff from which they can see the fields spreading into the distance, and they talk about the farm. His grandfather recalls first coming to the land, and thinking that it would be the place in which he and his young wife would make a wonderful life together.
They were homesteaders, pioneers. They cleared the fields of stones, and worked long hours in all kinds of weather. Todd’s mother was born at home during a snowstorm, with no one but Gramps to help her safely into the world. They didn’t have electricity for years, not until Todd’s mother was in high school.
Todd lives in town but has always loved coming out to the farm for visits. He enjoyed going to the grain elevator with Gramps, and milking cows with Gran. He had fun keeping an eye out for his grandfather while Gran snuck a turn on the swing in the barn.
As the sun goes down, Gramps and Todd head back to the empty house, and share a picnic of bread and cheese and pickles. Gran had made the pickles before she’d died the previous fall.
The pickles remind Todd and his grandfather of Gran’s garden, and of the scarecrow she always put up to scare away the birds. Each year, Todd remembers, the scarecrow was different – a clown, a dancer, a witch.
Sitting there on the floor of the empty farmhouse on the night before the auction that will spell the end a half century of farming, Gramps has an idea. Maybe they could make some scarecrows of their own. Old man and boy, they dig through bags of old clothes and fetch straw from the yard. Soon there are scarecrows riding the combine, working at the sewing machine, and standing by the baler. There are scarecrows tending the old washing machine, and sitting in the old rocking chair.
When Gramps and Todd curl up on a mattress to sleep that night, they know they will have to be up early in the morning. Buyers will turn up early for the auction. Though it has been a difficult day of good-byes, it will be followed by new beginnings.
Written by Jan Andrews, author of Canadian classics such as Very Last First Time and When Apples Grew Noses and White Horses Flew, The Auction tells the story of the an old man whose long years of farming on the prairie are drawing to an end, and of a young boy, his grandson, who has come to help him mourn that end and to celebrate all of happy times. A wonderful story for old and young alike.
T’was in the moon of wintertime
when all the birds had fled
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
sent angel choirs instead.
So begins the Huron Carol, written by Jean de Brébeuf in about 1642 on the shores of Georgian Bay. Brébeuf, a French Jesuit missionary, travelled from Québec to Huronia in the spring of 1626. Charged with converting the Huron Wendat, the indigenous people of the area, to Christianity, he established the mission of St. Marie Among the Huron near present-day Midland, Ontario.
A brilliant linguist, Brébeuf learned the Huron language and culture, created a Huron-French dictionary to aid his fellow missionaries, and translated the catechism. He also composed The Huron Carol, which tells the Christmas story using the symbols, themes and motifs of the Huron Wendat. Shepherds become hunters, a longhouse stands in for the stable, and the chiefs, who come from afar just as the wisemen did, offer gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
The missionaries had little success converting the Huron Wendat to Christianity. With fellow Jesuit Gabriel Lalemant, Jean de Brébeuf was captured and martyred by the Iroquois in March 1649. Their deaths brought to an end the Jesuit mission to the Huron. Survivors withdrew to Quebec and to what is now Oklahoma. The Huron Carol, written and first sung in the language of the Huron Wendat people and now in French and English too, serves to remind Canadians of an important landmark in our long and often troubled history with the first nations of this country.
Illustrated first by Frances Tyrrell in 1990, and then, in 2006, by Ian Wallace, The Huron Carol brings to life Jean de Brébeuf’s transplanted Christmas story and recalls the rich cultural traditions of the Huron Wendat. Both Tyrrell’s and Wallace’s editions would make a wonderful addition to the library of anyone who celebrates Christmas here in Canada.
November 1900. The crowds are lining up outside the circus tent of Le Cirque L. Cyr for the evening’s performance. They have come to see jugglers, acrobats, contortionists and clowns, but mostly they have come to see Louis Cyr, the strongest man in the world.
However, all is not well with the circus’ star performer. When she asks why the doctor has been to visit, Louis admits to his young daughter that he has many health problems, and that the doctor has told him that he must retire.
As the sounds of the starting performance drift into their caravan from the nearby circus tent, Louis recalls for Émiliana how he came to be crowned the strongest man in the world. Born in Quebec, he moved with his family to Massachusetts. Seeing his potential, his father trained him from early childhood to build up his strength. Louis recounts how he entered a weightlifting competition at a neighbour’s suggestion, and, at the tender age of seventeen or eighteen, found himself named champion of America.
Married soon afterwards, Louis and his new wife, Mélina, returned to Quebec where he found work as a lumberjack and where the story might have ended had the young strongman not been challenged by a rival weightlifter to settle which of them was the strongest man in Canada. Michaud was amazingly strong, but Louis proved to be stronger still.
The publicity surrounding his win brought Louis to the attention of one MacSohmer, a promoter who promised him worldwide fame and 35 dollars a week. As the star of shows throughout the US, Louis learned how to be a professional showman but, when MacSohmner didn’t pay him the sum they’d agreed on, he and Mélina headed home to Quebec.
Shortly after Émiliana’s birth, they bought a wagon and Louis refined his strongman routine in small towns and villages all over the province. He became so successful that the Cyrs were able to buy a tavern where Louis continued to put on his strongman act.
Eventually, he was invited to tour Europe. In England, Louis performed to packed houses, and received the compliments of the Prince of Wales himself. By the time he returned to Canada, Louis had been recognized as the strongest man in the world, and was able, at last, to realize his dream of owning a circus of his own.
It is time for Louis to perform. As the ringmaster announces him, Émiliana wishes her father good luck. He will walk out into the ring and dazzle the audience with his amazing feats of strength, culminating in lifting a table upon which stand eighteen men. He finishes his act to thunderous applause. Perhaps, someday, someone else will claim the title but, for now Louis Cyr remains the strongest man in the world.
Written and illustrated by celebrated French graphic artist Nicolas Debon, The Strongest Man in the World: Louis Cyr, recounts the story of famed Canadian weightlifter Louis Cyr, who traveled from working-class roots in Quebec and New England to the performance halls of North America and Europe, and was acclaimed as the strongest man in the world. A charming and inspiring story for readers from age 4.
Chuck Ealey won every game he quarterbacked in high school. He also won every game he quarterbacked at the University of Toledo, more than any other quarterback in college football history. Yet, after he graduated, no American professional football team was prepared to sign him as a quarterback. That’s because Chuck Ealey is black and, in the early 1970s, the National Football League didn’t believe that someone of his colour could successfully quarterback a professional team.
So Chuck Ealey signed on with the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the CFL, the Canadian Football League, and, in his rookie year, led them to a Grey Cup win. He was also named Rookie of the Year.
Born in 1950 in racially segregated Portsmouth, Ohio, Chuck grew up in the North End, a rundown neighbourhood separated from the rest of the town by railroad tracks. He was raised by a single mother who worked long hours to give Chuck the chances in life that she had never had. Though money was tight and she had dropped out of school, Chuck’s mother wanted her son to get an education.
Chuck was still a kid when he started working his throw. He’d find stones along the railroad tracks and throw them at passing trains, aiming for letters on the sides of the boxcars rumbling past. He got so he could always hit his targets.
Chuck worked just as determinedly at football practice and in school. His high school football coach was watching, and eventually he asked Chuck to quarterback the team. There were those who felt that, as a person of colour, Chuck didn’t have what it took to lead a football team on the field, but his coach and teammates knew he was the best player for the job.
However, it wasn’t easy. At a game against another high school, players on the opposing team targeted him. As the clock counted down the final seconds, Chuck’s team was down by five points. Chuck got the football and waited while a teammate raced toward the end zone, and a defence man from the other team came in for the tackle. He waited and remembered his days of throwing stones at passing trains. And then he threw the football, a ball which dropped right into his teammate’s hands. That teammate crossed into the end zone, scoring the winning touchdown.
Written by his daughter Jael Ealey Richardson and illustrated by Matt James, renowned illustrator of such Canadian classics as Northwest Passage and I Know Here, The Stone Thrower is the inspiring story of Chuck Ealey, whose talent and determination lead him not only to a university scholarship but also to the winningest season as quarterback in American college football history. When no NFL team would sign him because of his colour, Chuck Ealey came north to Canada and played six successful seasons in the Canadian Football League. An important reminder of the ongoing struggle against racial discrimination, The Stone Thrower is a wonderful book for readers from age 4!
It’s been a hot, dry summer in Petroville, and the town’s residents are feeling the effects. When Luz invites her friends Anika and Robert along for a swim in Spring Pond, just a short bus ride away, they grab their towels. Imagine their disappointment when they reach the pond and discover there is nothing left but a dirty puddle of water. Luz can’t understand what could have happened until she spots a sign for the nearby Top Cola plant. It proudly states their cola is made with fresh spring water.
Back home, Luz tells her mother and grandmother what she and her friends found at Spring Pond. Abuela gets upset and tells the girl the same thing happened in her homeland. A mining company bought land and pumped all the water out of the ground, causing a lot of suffering for those who lived nearby. Luz’s mother gets right to work calling city hall and the Sierra Club, determined to find out what’s going on.
Meanwhile, Luz discovers that the prolonged drought has forced the town to institute water restrictions. Residents are not allowed to fill their swimming pools or water their lawns and gardens. Over at Friendship Park the community garden is looking pretty sad. When someone suggests that the town could simply pump water from Spring Pond, Luz shares her news about the water level there.
The heat wave and drought continue. At home, Luz’ mother organizes her friends to learn more about water rights. Anika and Robert offer to make posters to advertise their findings but don’t invite Luz to help them. The girl finds herself with no one to play with. She goes for a walk and meets Mr. DeSouza, who is installing rain barrels to capture the rain from his roof. Luz ends up at the park where she nods off under a tree.
She awakens to hear the sound of water splashing. At first she thinks it’s finally raining. She discovers it’s actually the kid who works at the café around the corner. He’s pouring away the water he’s used to mop the floors. Luz is upset and confused by the idea that the plants are withering without water but water is being poured away.
Just then, Gord shows up on his bike. In the cart he is pulling behind his bicycle he has everything he needs to make a graywater filtration system. It will filter graywater, the water from cooking, bathing and washing, so it can be used on the plants. Soon he has set up an old bathtub and filled it with gravel and marsh plants. While Gord works on his graywater filtration system, Luz and Mr. DeSouza and others build an open pavillion and a gazebo to provide shade for park visitors and install rain barrels to capture rainwater from their rooves.
The days pass and Luz learns Anika and Robert have been working hard to get Top Cola to change their behaviour. All the posters and petitions and threats of boycotts have had an effect. The cola company announces that is going to start a Spring Pond initiative aimed at restoring groundwater levels and the pond habitat. No sooner have the three friends learned the good news then it starts to rain.
Written and illustrated by Claudia Dávila, Luz Makes a Splash is the second in The Future According to Luz series, and tells the story of how a small group of concerned residents faced with water bans following a prolonged drought, learn how to conserve, capture and reuse water. They also take on a local company whose production practices have adversely affected the groundwater level, and win. This informative and empowering graphic novel is certain to encourage young readers from Grade 3 to be better stewards of water and the environment.
An Inuit man was out hunting for seals when he found a large aglu, or breathing hole, in the sea ice. Looking down he saw a giant bear, a nanurluk, sleeping in the water. Knowing this aglu was the bear’s breathing hole and through which he climbed out of the water to hunt, the man knew he must find a way to the defeat the giant bear or he and his wife would not be safe.
Crouching low so the bear would not see him, the man began to scoop water from the hole and pour it down its sides where it froze, slowly making the walls thicker and the aglu smaller. When the hole was finally too small for the bear to pass through it, the man hurried back to his camp where he and his wife worked quickly, pouring water over their iglu’s walls and entrance to make it strong enough to resist the giant bear. Then the man asked his wife to remain inside the iglu, where she would be safe, while he gathered his harpoon and his knife and returned to the hole in the sea ice.
This time, when he reached the aglu, the man leaned over and waited until the giant bear became aware of his presence. Spotting the man, the bear lunged upward but was stopped by the sea ice. As the bear clawed at the ice, making the hole bigger, the man used his harpoon to stab the monster in the eyes and nose. Even as the bear roared and clawed and began to bleed heavily, the man continued to attack. He knows that, blinded, enraged and wounded, the nanurluk is more dangerous than ever. When at last it pulls itself onto the sea ice, the giant bear does not go after the man; instead it wanders away with the man following at a distance. Eventually the nanurluk collapsed lifeless onto the ground. Its meat feed the man and his wife for many days.
Written by Jose Angutinngurniq and illustrated by Eva Widermann, The Giant Bear is a traditional Inuit folktale about a hunter who saves himself and his wife from giant bear through his courage, ingenuity and determination. Though this story may sit uncomfortably with aspects of a 21st-century perspective on animals and ecology, it speaks tellingly of the difficult life-and-death choices faced by the ancestors of present-day Inuit and by any people living in a close traditional relationship with nature. A lovely, spare text by Jose Angutinngurniq is beautifully complimented by Eva Widermann’s striking illustrations. A nice addition to any folktale collection!
Their Pops calls twelve-year-olds Cheryl Shumacher and Tweed Pendleton quirky. Many others in the small town of Wiggins Cross call them freaks. They’ve lived with Pops, their grandfather, ever since their two families flew off for a weekend in a private plane and everyone else aboard, their parents, their siblings, the pilot and the plane, disappeared. The cousins, who were later found all alone on Flat Top Plateau, have no memory of what happened between the time the plane took off and when they were rescued.
Pop owns the Starlight Paradise Drive-In Double-Screen Movie Theatre and Mini-Putt just outside town, and every evening you can find the girls sitting in an old 1948 Ford pickup at the back of the drive-in watching whatever old gems of B-moviedom Pops has decided to screen. The rest of the time, they hang out at headquarters, a 1964 red convertible permanently parked in the barn, called the Moviemobile because of the television bolted to the front hood, thinking up ways to drum up more babysitting gigs. They’ve even printed up business cards to advertise their ‘expertitious child-minding services and auto-vehicular detailing…While-O-Wait,’ or WOW for short. For some reason, the good citizens of Wiggins don’t seem particularly interested in hiring them.
Part of the problem might be ACTION!, the movie make-believe game with film-script dialogue and moves worthy of the best superheroes that Cheryl and Tweed love to play. It involves the involuntary participation of various dogs and kids around Wiggins, including eleven-year-old Artie Bartleby, who mother runs Bartleby’s Gas & Gulp Service Station and General Store. Artie regularly finds himself cast as an evil villain in ACTION!, and on the receiving end of Tweed’s movie patter and Cheryl’s stunt-double rolls and jumps.
The girls’ best friend, their only friend, is Yeager Armbruster, aka Pilot because, at fourteen, he has his pilot’s licence and helps his mother with her crop-dusting business. Pilot enjoys the girls’ wacky games and crazy enthusiasm for B movies. Besides, the three kids share a history; Pilot’s father was flying the plane when it disappeared.
Cheryl and Tweed are driving home with Pops from Bartley’s and another game of ACTION!, when they notice a convoy of trucks advertising Dudley’s Travelling Curiosity Show. The trucks turn into the empty field, across the road from the Starlight Paradise Drive-In and begin to set up. The girls, who have seen more than their share of movies about creepy carnivals, are immediately suspicious.
They are distracted briefly by an emergency call from the Bottoms. Their quadruplets, John, Paul, George and Bingo, have escaped. The girls round them up with an odd assortment of child-containment devices including a collapsable playpen. With the Bottoms boys safely back where they belong, Cheryl and Tweed decide to take a closer look at Dudley’s World-O-Wonders Travelling Curiosity Show.
With Pilot tagging along, they go over a fence at the back of the show and…land on Artie Bartleby who’s taken the easy route and simply walked in through the gates. Through a tent flap, the kids spot a sarcophagus on a raised platform. The illuminated sign over it reads Zahara-Safiya, Ancient Princess of Egypt, Beware the Mummy’s Curse! The girls check out the sarcophagus with its garishly-painted princess and the green stone carved with a scarab beetle positioned over the mummy’s heart. They poke around in the crates still waiting to be unpacked and find grave goods including a mummified cat.
Artie finds a ball that sports what purports to be Babe Ruth’s autograph, except he’s pretty sure it says Bob Ruth instead. In a fit of annoyance after he almost falls into a packing crate and has to be yanked out again, Artie pitches the ball which hits and cracks the green stone on the mummy’s sarcophagus. A strange sound emits, a wind blows up inside the tent, and the lid of the sarcophagus begins to open. The kids run.
Back at C+T headquarters, Pilot and the girls discover that Artie isn’t with them. They figure, incorrectly, that he’s headed home. It’s only later, when Pops comes out to the barn to ask them if they’ve seen him, that they realize the kid’s missing. Meanwhile, Miss Parks, the librarian at Wiggins Cross Middle School, has booked a last-minute vacation and hires the girls to look after her fourteen cats. The kitties are soon comfortably installed in their cat carriers in Pops’ barn.
Cheryl and Tweed are horrified to watch, that evening, as every single car driving towards the Starlight turns into Dudley’s World-O-Wonders Travelling Curiosity Show. The drive-in stays dark and Pops turns in early after giving the girls and Pilot some money to go and enjoy the carnival. Since evildoings are clearly afoot and Artie’s still missing, they head across the road.
The kids slip into the tent and listen as Colonel Dudley tells the mummy’s story. It is the tale of a cursed Egyptian princess who, denied her rightful place as heir to the throne, asked the temple priests to use their black magic to help her exact revenge. When she became so powerful that even they began to fear her, those priests drugged the princess, wrapped her in bandages, and placed her in a sarcophagus. They buried her alive, bound by the magic of the green scarab and an amulet with the Eye of Horus that the Colonel wears around his neck. When he pats the sarcophagus theatrically at the end of his story, something inside thumps and the lid slowly opens. This is obviously part of the show however the sarcophagus is empty and the Colonel starts waving his arms and yelling at the audience to run for their lives.
After everyone else has left the tent, Cheryl and Tweed and Pilot take a look around. Inside the empty sarcophagus they find a red running shoe that belongs to Artie. The kids hide when the Colonel returns with Delmar, one of the stage hands, and
notices for the first time that the green stone in the lid of the sarcophagus is cracked. Colonel Dudley sounds really frightened when he tells Delmar that the mummy is awake, that the spell that has bound her to a eternal sleep has been broken. The Colonel, who had planned to stick around Wiggins Cross for a while, makes it clear that wants to be long gone before “missing townsfolk [start] showing up.”
Cee and Tee and their friend Pilot realize they’ve got a real live monster situation on their hands. They return to headquarters long enough to suit up and grab their weapons, which include Nerf arrows and cans of silly string. It turns out that isn’t hard to find the mummy, they just have to follow the vulture that’s appeared out of nowhere. Unfortunately for Cheryl and Tweed, who hate them, the vulture is accompanied by swarms of beetles but one yowl from Miss Parks’ cats sends the beetle scuttling away.
The showdown takes place at the mini-putt. First, Pilot and the girls are attacked by four crocodiles dressed in matching overalls, and realize, to their horror, that they are the Bottoms quadruplets who have been transformed by the mummy. While Tee and Pilot fend off the croc-tots, Cee turns on the floodlights. That’s when they see Zahara-Safiya sitting on the back of the Sphinx at the Pyramid Putt-Putt hole.
The mummy princess fires orders at the croc-tots. However they pretty much ignore her, instead wrestling with each other and chewing on the mini-putt features with their sharp little crocodile teeth. The princess looks pretty impressive with her braided, snake-like hair and her golden scaled bracelets, as well as royally ticked off, but she otherwise looks like a normal twelve-year-old. Zahara-Safiya throws scarab beetles at the girls and Pilot, beetles that burst into flame as they fly through the air, and she moves much faster than the mummies that lurch about in movies.
The kids spot something in the shadows behind the sphinx. It’s green and scaly, and has claws and a tail and a mouthful of sharp teeth. The creature is Artie Bartleby, now number one minion to the princess. He tells the others that Zahara-Safiya, who was supposed to rule a kingdom, has decided to make do with Wiggins Cross. She plans to put the same whammy on them and the townsfolk that she has on Artie and the croc-tots.
Cee and Tee are out of ideas but Pilot thinks he might know how to defeat the princess. The kids retreat to headquarters where he explains his plan. Pilot recalls, from a movie, of course, that the ancient Egyptians worshipped cats and considered them the guardians of the underworld that kept dead souls from returning to haunt the living. All three remember how the beetles reacted to that yowl from Miss Parks’ cats. Zahara-Safiya and her minions follow our heroes to the barn. As soon as they enter, Pilot released the cats.
What happens next is a surprise. Mr. Sniffers ambles over to the princess who scoops him up and…bursts into tears. All of a sudden, she seems more sad than evil. She talks and Artie translates. It’s a sad story. It turns out the Colonel had it all wrong,
Zahara wasn’t unhappy when her father decided to leave his kingdom to someone else. She wanted to become a temple priestess. However the priests were corrupt and plotted against her father, and planned to use her as a weapon to overthrow him.
When Zahara realized what they were doing and threatened to tell her father, they silenced her. Too afraid to kill her and unleash the magic they’d bound to her, the priests put a sleeping spell on the princess and sent her home to her father in a sarcophagus sealed with the scarab in the green stone. Her father the Pharaoh buried his daughter in the tomb he’d built for himself where she lay until a tomb robber stole her sarcophagus and grave goods.
She has been dragged around for years by the scheming Colonel Dudley, who knows full well that she lies inside in an enchanted sleep. She has been awake enough to be aware of her surroundings but unable to escape them. All Zahara really wants to do is open a portal to Aaru and join her loved ones there, but, in order to do so, she needs the amulet that Colonel Dudley wears around his neck, the one with the Eye of Horus.
Of course, the girls and Pilot promise to help the princess. They realize that the portal will have to be opened up far enough away from other people to avoid sucking them in. They load the Moviemobile with the croc-tots ( carefully stowed in cat carriers) then Cheryl, whom Pops has taught to drive in the Starlight Paradise’ parking lot, drives around the fence to the back of the carnival where she knocks down a section of the fence with the front of the car.
The girls and Artie and Zahara are loading up the trunk of the car with the princess’ grave goods, when they get caught in the act by Colonel Dudley. While the Colonel blusters away, Artie grabs the amulet and runs, pursued by the nefarious no-gooder. As he disappears, he yells to Pilot to get Zahara to his plane. Realizing they’ll have to trust CrocPot, the others drive to the Armbruster’s airplane hangar, just a short distance down the road (which is a good thing since Cheryl can’t see past the television set bolted to the hood and needs Tweed, standing next to her, to direct the car).
The kids and the princess have loaded the plane with the grave goods when Artie calls on the walkie-talkie and orders Pilot into the air. Croc-Pot’s plan is to fire the amulet out of the cannon used by the human cannonball. He figures that, as soon as Zahara can see it in the air, she will be able to use the amulet open the portal and go home. the princess hugs the girls and climbs aboard. Within minutes, the plane roars off into the sky above the town.
Things don’t go quite as planned because the amulet goes up but with Colonel Dudley. However, once she sees it in the sky over the carnival, Zahara opens the portal in midair and drops her grave goods into it before kissing Pilot on the cheek and jumping in herself. There is a thunderous roar and a flash of bright light, and the princess is gone.
When Zahara disappears, Cheryl and Tweed are at first thrilled that they’ve pulled things off, and then terrified as Pilot struggles to control his plane after the explosion. Fortunately they find it and him later parked next to the pickup at the back of the drive-in. The croc-tots are back to normal, Artie’s lost his scales and claws and teeth and tail, and they watch as a small round object plummets out of the sky. It’s Bob Ruth’s autographed ball only added to it is a message in hieroglyphics from Zahara thanking them for their help. All in a day’s work for our heroes!
Written by Lesley Livingston and Jonathan Llyr, and illustrated by Steven Burley, How to Curse in Hieroglyphics is the fast-paced and very entertaining story of two girls who, when a cursed mummy rides into town as part of a travelling carnival, leap into action to save first the townsfolk from her evil plan and then the poor afflicted mummy, from her sad fate. Filled with moments of delicious terror and more that will have you roaring with laughter, this B-movie-inspired adventure will enslave readers from Grade 4.
When the city’s medical officer of health comes to speak to his class about a new campaign to Kill the Fly and Save the Baby, twelve-year-old William Alton listens first with surprise and then with growing grief and anger. Flies, Dr. Roberts explains, spread germs that cause diseases such as typhoid and consumption. Proclaiming flies the their worst enemy, he announces that the city is going to hold a contest and offer a fifty-dollar first prize to the child who catches the largest number.
Irish immigrants, Will and his father have recently come to Hamilton, Ontario, to start a new life following the deaths of his mother and his little sister, Colleen, deaths, he realizes as he listens to Dr. Roberts, that were likely caused by flies. He decides there and then that he will win the contest.
By the time the contest starts, a couple of days later, Will has filled a jar with dead flies caught in the garbage behind the rooming house where he and his father have rented a room, and in the stables where his father has found a job working as a stable hand. He has also visited local shops and offered to kill flies in the mornings before they open for business. One businessman he meets, a Mr. A.M. Souter, touts the use of a vacuum cleaner to catch flies. The boy tries to convince Mr. Souter to loan him the machine for demonstration purposes, but he says no.
Will isn’t the only student in his class eager to win the contest and claim the fifty-dollar prize. Fred Leckie, the wealthy and rather unpleasant boy with whom he shares a desk has announced that he is going to win. He offers sections of orange to classmates who bring him one hundred flies. Ginny Malone, in her patched dress and broken-down shoes and who often goes hungry so that her younger brother and sister can eat, is the first to agree.
Though he doesn’t like that she’s helping his nemesis, Will cannot help but admire Ginny’s fearlessness and grit. She is constantly taunted because she is poor and struggles in school, but she won’t back down when challenged, and is very protective of her younger brother and sister.
When Ginny steals his jar of flies and gives it to Fred, Will feels betrayed but reserves most of his anger for Fred because he knows whose jar it is. Rebecca Edwards, the daughter of a wealthy doctor, sympathizes with Will and tries her best to help him collect more flies. She also tells him what she has learned about flies from her father, and adds her advice to the growing list of suggestions Will has gathered for how to catch them. Will does well at the first fly count at City Hall, but Fred Leckie does better. Though he is disappointed, Rebecca’s steadfast support encourages him to try harder.
The following Sunday, Will wakes up early and sneaks down the backstairs of mansion in which he and his father now share a small servant’s room to the cupboard where the housekeeper stores the vacuum cleaner. He borrows the vacuum and uses it to catch flies in the stable. Unfortunately, he is observed by Fred Leckie, who threatens to tell Mr. Moodie, the wealthy owner of the mansion and his father’s boss. Though he is afraid, Will goes to Mr. Moodie, whom he has never met before, introduces himself, and explains what he has done with the vacuum cleaner. To his great relief, Mr. Moodie laughs and tells him, “I’m sure, William Alton, you’ll go far in life.”
Fred Leckie doesn’t give the promised pieces of orange to Ginny so she decides to help Will instead. She takes him to the market stables where her brother Tom works. Using homemade flyswatters, Will and Ginny and her younger siblings catch bucketsful of flies. When he pays for the orange her little sister is caught stealing from a market stand, Will earns Ginny’s quiet but heartfelt thanks. Though they bring in thousands of flies, it isn’t enough to beat Fred who has all his father’s employees catching flies for him.
As the end of the contest approaches, Will, who has observed that they are attracted by horse manure, decides to set up a trap behind the shed to lure flies. He also discovers that flies have laid eggs in the manure, eggs which mature into more flies. He catches them, too, and adds them to his bucket. When Rebecca sees his manure trap, she tell him he is breeding flies. He is upset by her accusation, but, seconded by Ginny, decides he needs every fly he can get.
At Rebecca’s urging, Will enters the essay contest. Once he starts, Will finds the words come easily and with them memories of little Colleen and his mother. His father finds him in tears and, reading the essay, he cries, too, before telling Will how proud he is of his efforts.
Uncle Charlie is released from quarantine just in time to attend the final count at City Hall. Ginny and her siblings are there to support Will, and so is Rebecca. When he realizes that every child who enters will get their photo in the Hamilton Spectator, Will divides the flies he raises in the manure trap among them. Each of the Malones win two dollars. Without those flies, Will comes in second after Fred Leckie. At first, he is bitterly disappointed but, one look at the Malone children’s faces convinces him he’s the luckier boy. When it is announced that his and Rebecca Edwards’ essays will be published in the Hamilton Spectator, his father and his uncle are overjoyed. It is a fine start to the Altons’ lives in Canada.
Written by Sylvia Nicolls and based on true events, Revenge on the Fly tells the story of a contest held in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1912 to eradicate the fly and of the efforts of one very determined young Irish immigrant to win the contest and avenge the deaths of his mother and little sister. By turns humorous and thought-provoking, this historical adventure features a cast of interesting characters and offers an intriguing window on life over a century ago. It is bound to appeal to readers from Grade 4.