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Lyn Cook

Richmond Hill (Ont.), Scholastic Canada, 1991. Revised edition. 183pp, paper, $7.95
ISBN 0-590-74032-6. CIP

Grades 3 to 5/Ages 8 to 10
Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson.

Volume 20 Number 1
1992 January

Originally published in 1950, the present work is a revised edition of Cook's first published book, but, unfortunately, the author's brief intro­duction does not specify what form revisions took. While the book's themes remain valid today, the writing style is dated.

Elin Laukka, nine, lives in Sudbury, Ontario, with her immigrant Finnish parents and toddler brother. "Bells" are a metaphor for happiness; however, Elin's life on Finland Street, with its rows of tiny clapboard dwellings, is not always happy. Elin wants to take figure skating lessons with her "rich" friend Anna but cannot because her miner father's wages barely cover life's necessities. Exercising initiative, Elin earns the lesson monies by working at a neighbourhood grocery but magnani­mously surrenders her savings when her father is injured in a mine accident and family resources are depleted. A "fairy godfather," in the form of Elin's grandfather from Finland, rewards Elin's generous goodness. A former champion figure skater, he not only teaches Elin how to skate but provides her with the necessary skates, pays for the next year's lessons, and arranges for her to participate in this year's skating carnival.

Although one of the book's themes anticipated Canada's present concern with multiculturalism, the message of celebrating your heritage while being a Canadian is not well integrated into the story-line and becomes obtrusively didactic. Furthermore, at points, the story bogs down in information given via a question/answer format. Al­though Anna's comment, "You sound like an old schoolbook," is directed to another character, it could apply to several parts of the book. Encountering such sections, today's readers will simply revert to skim reading in order to rediscover the wish-fulfillment story­line.

Dave Jenkinson, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Man.
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