(has also been published in the US under the title Ticket to Canada)
Pages: 144 pages
Finished: Sept. 13, 2010
First Published: 1992
Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre
Genre: Children, historical fiction
The conductor walked down the swaying aisle of the passenger car.
Acquired: Purchased my own copy.
Reason for Reading: I have read this book before and read it aloud to the 10 year old this time as part of our history curriculum.
Set in 1915, Alberta, this is a quiet story of settling the Canadian West. An American family decides to make the move when they hear about the free land. Sam and his father have come up first to build a house before Mama and his two younger siblings arrive. First living in a tent, Sam learns the stark, never ending reality of the prairies where the only reference point as he wanders off is their tent. He discovers buffalo wallows and buffalo skulls, starting to collect them. After the family arrives his experiences broaden as they meet their closet neighbours 4 miles away, an immigrant family who doesn't speak English and lives in a soddy. Sam tries to figure out the way to befriend the boy his age; Sam also finds a friend in the horse, Prince, that they buy specifically for the children to ride to school (4 miles the other way) and for Sam get about on when he has free time.
Following the simple lives of these prairie settlers, Ticket to Curlew shows the terrible forces of nature they had to struggle with from flash thunderstorms and snow storms where one needed to tie a rope around oneself just to get to the barn to the hidden dangers lurking in the tall prairie grasses. But it also explores the beauty of the land when out of nowhere amidst the grasses appears a pond and the beautiful blue skies. A quiescent story that looks back at the simple life of children on the prairies, settler life and the love of a boy and his horse. Winner of the CLA Book of the Year Award.
There is also a sequel to this called Wings to Fly, which is sadly out of print. I will read it again at some point to give a review but won't be reading it to the 10 yob as it is set a few years further on and focuses on Josie, Sam's sister, and her finally finding a girl her age whom she tries to befriend.