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Lyn Cook

Richmond Hill (Ont.), Scholastic Canada, 1991. 210pp, paper, $7.95
ISBN 0-590-73837-2. CIP

Grades 3 to 6/Ages 8 to 11
Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson.

Volume 20 Number 1
1992 January

Samantha's Secret Room, with its 1959-60 setting, would have been considered contemporary family fiction when originally published in 1963. Almost three decades later, only price references give away the fact that Samantha a.k.a. Sam is not a girl from the nineties.

Today's readers who like a warm, optimistic family story will still enjoy the happenings in the Wiggins house­hold, consisting of the delightful, spunky Sam, twelve; her mischievous brothers, Stephen, nine, and Jem, seven; her wise and understanding parents; and her seemingly cantankerous great grandmother.

The Wiggins' farm on Penetang Bay near Penctanguishene, Ontario, is located on land that has been in the family for more than 150 years. The episodic plot begins in November and concludes in August following a family reunion honoring Great Gran's ninetieth birthday. The story's events, which are occasionally related via Sam's journal entries, occur against a backdrop of the daily and seasonal responsibilities of farm life.

The thread tying the book together is Sam's continuing search for a secret room that belonged to her early nine­teenth-century namesake. Sam, whose own secret place to be alone is the root cellar, believes the other hidden space to be located somewhere in their old twenty-room house. When she finally locates the room, it surprisingly contains the answer to her continuing frustration with Great Gran's "nagging." The hint of a juvenile crush on an older male relative completes this fine story, which deserves its renewed in-print status.

Dave Jenkinson, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Man.
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