ONCE ON THIS ISLAND by Gloria Whelan


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Historical fiction set in the early days of America. Mary lives with her father and older siblings on their farm on Mackinac Island on Lake Michigan. Their life, though hard, has been one of peace and reasonable prosperity. Then the War of 1812 begins, the British capture the island, and Mary's father goes to the mainland to fight. While worrying about him, Mary and her siblings must keep the farm going. The emphasis for Whelan (Night of the Full Moon, 1993, etc.) is on the historic events--all occurring offstage--and the depiction of ordinary living, which leaves the characters two-dimensional. Still, Mary provides lively narration that flows along smoothly, and the portrait of the ways of the period and place is a compelling one. As in Joan W. Blos's A Gathering of Days (1990), the accumulation of daily detail takes on a presence of its own. That and the simple sentences in which the book is written make the book accessible to younger readers, even though it is lengthy.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1995
ISBN: 0064406199
Page count: 186pp
Publisher: HarperCollins