Monday, February 27, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: That Boy Red

Today’s pick:  That Boy Red  by Rachna Gilmore

HarperTrophyCanada, 2011

From the Book Jacket:
It’s the Depression, but Red’s family is managing better than most on their Prince Edward Island farm. Hard working and resourceful, they have enough to eat and to help others, even if at times they are mocked by their neighbours for putting education ahead of farm work. Eleven-year-old Red has plenty of chores around the farm, and the days can be long, but he still gets the odd break to go swimming or fishing, provided his homework is done. Red’s older sister, Ellen, teaches at the local school, and if Red doesn’t shine, she will not only punish him, but also make sure their parents hear about it.

But then Red’s father’s hand is seriously injured and the family’s situation looks dire. Red steps up to the challenge, finishing the tobacco boxes that his father makes and helping shovel out a train stuck in the snow. Stubborn and even pigheaded, Red does make mistakes along the way (such as pretending to be dead so that his younger sister will stop following him), but his heart is always in the right place.

My Take: 
This book is a series of six related stories about events in 11-year-old Red’s life during the time of the depression. It was an easy and fun read, with lots of little details about life during that time period – it reminded me of the stories my Dad used to tell about the pranks and fun he had as a kid. I loved the author’s writing style. There was a good balance between action, description and dialogue that kept the story interesting.

Other Info:
This book is nominated for the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading in the Silver Birch (Fiction) category for 2012.  I’ve profiled a few of the other nominated books: The Glory Wind, Ghost Messages, and Undergrounders

Rachna Gilmore got the idea for this novel from listening to family stories, but she was careful to make sure this was a work of fiction. You can read more about this in her blog post, There’s Gold in Them Thar Tales: Spinning Family Stories Into Fiction.

Other middle grade books by this author include:
The Trouble with Dilly (2009)
The Sower of Tales (2005)
A Group of One (2001)
Mina’s Spring of Colours (2000)
A Friend Like Zilla (1995)
Rachna Gilmore has also written many picture books, including A Screaming Kind of Day, The Flute, Catching Time, Wild Rilla, Lights for Gita, Roses for Gita, and A Gift for Gita, among others.

For more, go to Rachna Gilmore’s website.


  1. Thanks for sharing this! Been too long since I've read one of her books, so will be getting this one and her others. Thanks Andrea.

  2. Sounds like a historical full of emotional moments.
    Adding to my list so I could check it out.

  3. I've read much Depression-centered MG historical fiction but it's always been set in the U.S. This offers a unique and different look at the Depression.

  4. Sounds like an interesting historical fiction story. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. Andrea, every time I read one of your wonderful reviews, I want to move to Canada!

  6. This sounds like a great book. I love the setting of PEI. Thanks for sharing!

  7. This book sounds really good. I'll have to check it out. Especially because one of my all-time favorite series as a child was Anne of Green Gables and she lived on Prince Edward Island too and I've always wanted to go there - it sounds so beautiful!


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