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Dennis Adair and Janet Rosenstock

Toronto, HarperCollins, 1991. 138pp, paper, $4.50
ISBN 0-00-647033-5. Road to Avonlea series, #1. CIP


Gail Hamilton

Toronto, HarperCollins, 1991. 117pp, paper, $4.50
ISBN 0-00-647034-3. Road to Avonlea series, #2. CIP


Fiona McHugh

Toronto, HarperCollins, 1991. 120pp, paper, $4.50
ISBN 0-00-647035-1. Road to Avonlea series, #3. CIP

Grades 6 to 8/Ages 11 to 13
Reviewed by Constance Hall.

Volume 19 Number 6
1991 November

Change is sometimes hard to accept, especially when it is in the form of adaptations of classic stories. In this case the book The Journey Begins is based on the TV series "Road to Avonlea," a Sullivan Films Production of Lucy Maud Montgomery's novels made in association with the Disney Channel.

The Story Girl, Sara Stanley, is twelve years old when she must leave her nanny and her father in Montreal, the only family she has known, to live with her dead mother's relatives on Prince Edward Island. The stay is meant to be temporary until her father clears his name in a financial scandal. Sara, who longs for her father, has a difficult time dealing with her authoritative Aunt Hetty, the head of the King family, and in establishing a relationship with her cousins. She makes friends immediately with another cousin, Andrew King, who is also visiting Avonlea, and with Cecily, her youngest cousin. The other two, Felix and Felicity, find Sara's ways too much in opposition to their own and spend time playing tricks on the unsuspecting Sara and Andrew — that is, until Sara decides to play one trick on them. While all the cousins are working in the barn as punishment for their pranks, they begin to realize they can have fun together.

In The Story Girl Earns Her Name, Sara tries to raise money for the library after inadvertently assisting a con man to escape with the proceeds from the sale of magic lantern show tickets. First, she tries to get a well-known businessman, Wellington Campbell, to donate money, but that scheme fails. Next she recruits the Awkward Man, timid, tongue-tied Jasper Dale, to present his own magic lantern show while she dramatically narrates the story of the Little Match Girl. The show is a complete success. Unfortunately, a fire starts in Town Hall when Mr. Dale is frightened into knocking over the lantern. Once more Sara experiences failure as the proceeds must now go to repairing the damages. With the help of her cousins, Sara gets the nasty Sally Potts to confess to causing the fire, and Mr. Campbell, after hearing Sara recite, decides to donate a thousand dollars to the library fund. After all the excitement and disappoint­ments Sara has experienced, he encour­ages her to accept her new name, the Story Girl.

In the third book Sara Stanley becomes fascinated by the old house where Miss Lloyd lives. Her cousins warn her that she wouldn't be welcome there but she wants to see for herself. Her encounter with Miss Lloyd isn't very pleasant, especially after Felix breaks a window in the old mansion. Sara overhears Miss Lloyd turn away Alex Cameron, Miss Lloyd's wealthy cousin, as he tries to give her some money to help meet her expenses. Sara begins to understand her reputation as "mean and proud."

When Aunt Olivia's best friend Sylvia Grey comes to visit, her beautiful voice softens not only Aunt Hetty's heart but also Miss Lloyd's. Sara manages to convince Miss Lloyd to attend church so that they will be able to hear Sylvia sing, but the connection between the two women is still a mystery. After she sings, Sylvia accepts the offer to be the Avonlea Ladies Guild candidate for the Cameron scholarship in music education. On the way to the contest, the King family buggy breaks down and Sylvia misses her chance.

Sara takes the situation into her own hands and entreats Miss Lloyd to talk her cousin, Alex Cameron, into helping Sylvia with her musical education. Miss Lloyd, remembering how much she loved Sylvia's father, makes a dramatic walk to Charlottetown on her behalf. The happy ending comes for everyone, especially Miss Lloyd, who realizes that she does not want to shut people out of her life anymore.

Although these are adaptations of the original novels, the stories provide an easy-to-read introduction to some of Lucy Maud Mongomery's best known and loved characters.

Constance Hall, Hamilton, Ont.
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