Friday, October 19, 2012

Our Canadian Girl book series

If American Girl didn't have a book line, I would not have had any interest in American Girl at all. That may seem a bit extreme, but honestly, I was not into dolls at all when I was younger. Only after having read the books first did the doll line appeal to me. Historical fiction has always been my thing. I can remember going to the library and going through the juvenile book collection, looking for the historical fiction sticker that was put on the spine of every historical fiction book. My library organizes their inventory by author's last name, so I literally started at Aa...and worked my way until I got to the Zs.

Regrettably, I don't read as often as I would like, but I will have to clear some time in my schedule for this book line that I've discovered. Our Canadian Girl is basically American Girl with a Canadian setting.
Now, I"m not saying that anyone "copied" on anyone. I mean, it's not that revolutionary to write a book line focusing on historical periods from the view of a young child. Hey, if the concept works, why not use it again!

So the Our Canadian Girl book series takes twelve different girls, all from various time periods and from various backgrounds but facing similar issues that girls today face. Here are some short bios from the main website, check out how much alike the line is to the American Girl historical line:

In 1762 Elizabeth and her family move to Nova Scotia, taking over a farm that once belonged to Acadians deported by the British. Elizabeth is deeply unhappy about leaving her home in New England but the beauty of the Annapolis Valley soon wins her over. Her misgivings return, however, when she discovers that someone is stealing eggs and milk from the farm and, much worse, that Acadians are imprisoned in barracks nearby. Will she be able to fight injustice?
It is 1783 and ten-year-old Rachel and her family are living in northern Nova Scotia after escaping slavery in South Carolina. Their joy at finally being free is dashed as they face the challenges of life in a barren land and must fight against harsh winter conditions and intolerant neighbours. How will they survive?
It's 1862, and an expedition is making the perilous journey to the west coast of Canada, where gold has been discovered. At Fort Garry (now Winnipeg), ten-year-old orphan Lisa joins the group with her aunt, uncle, and cousins. As Lisa and her family battle their way across the prairies and over the mountains to the goldfields of Cariboo, they encounter terrible hardships-and learn how important they are to one another.
Buffalo Hunt is set in the West, during the waning years of the buffalo hunt. Angelique Dumas is a ten-year-old Metis girl, and this year she gets to be part of the hunt-not with the children, but with the grownups. It will be hard work, she knows, and she will have lots of new and important responsibilities. Just how important they are becomes clear on the day Angelique wanders off exploring, and finds herself in the middle of a buffalo stampede.
Meet Marie-Claire, who lives with her family in Montreal in 1885. Her parents are hard-working, but there is very little money to spare, and Marie-Claire worries about what will happen if one of them falls ill. Then a smallpox epidemic sweeps through the city, and it seems every family is affected -- even Marie-Claire's.
Meet Emily Murdoch, who lives with her parents and her two sisters in Victoria B.C., in 1896. Join Emily as she makes friends with her family's servant, Hing, a Chinese immigrant who has suffered much hardship, and come with her as she boards a streetcar headed for disaster.
After her mother's death, nine-year-old Keeley and her father need a new start. The frontier town of Frank, Alberta, seems like a good place: in 1901 there are lots of jobs as well as plenty of room for Keeley to breathe, play, and explore. On a dare from a schoolmate, Keeley decides to investigate one of the few places off limits to children in freewheeling Frank—the coal mine where her father works. But what starts as a game soon becomes a life-threatening adventure...
With a new baby in the house, Millicent MacCallum's parents need a break. For the summer of 1914 they decide to send Millie to her aunt and uncle's in the Kawarthas. Millie quickly discovers that life in Stoney Lake is quite different than in the city. Millie's aunt—an Ojibway Indian—and her cousins teach her about swimming, building a canoe—and even how to milk a goat! But her biggest challenge is yet to come. When the lighthouse goes dark can Millie save an incoming ship from the rocky shores?
Meet Penelope, who lives in Halifax in 1917 with her dad and her two little sisters, Emily and Maggie. Their mother died the year before, and Penny's father is having a hard time taking care of the girls. Join Penny as she lives through the most terrible disaster in Halifax's history and must then cope with the aftermath.
In Depression-era Vancouver times are tough. It is 1939 and Ellen's dad has lost his job, forcing Ellen and her family to move to cramped quarters with her grumpy grandfather. Living far away from her friends, with little to entertain her and few luxuries, Ellen is lonely and frustrated with her lot in life. But Ellen's view of things changes when she meets a hobo, who teaches her the true meaning of generosity and goodwill.
The Christmas That Almost Wasn't takes place on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, in December 1941, as Izzie Publicover, her brother, and their friends prepare for a very special Christmas. Despite wartime rationing and the infrequency of winter visits, the Publicover children's grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins are coming for Christmas. But plans go awry two days before Christmas, when a huge storm hits the village. Can Izzie figure out a way to save Christmas for everyone?
It is 1944, and Margit and her mother have fled war-torn Czechoslovakia to Toronto. They are Jews, and although life is difficult in their newfound home of Canada, they know it would be much, much worse had they stayed behind. Margit manages to make some new friends but she cannot help wondering what will happen to her when the war is over. And what has become of her father, who was taken away by the Nazis?

I will be tracking down this book series, hopefully I can find them easily here in the States. I'm so excited about finding this line though, the wheels in my head are turning. I have so many dolls that need new wigs and are in need of repair...I can sense a major customizing project coming on!

I think that every country should have a book line like this one and the American Girl series. Children need to learn about the history of their country, no matter what country they live in, and what better way to do it than through exciting historical literature! By the way, their main website is an excellent resource for everyone, from their child readers, to parents, to teachers. They have sample book chapters, "interviews" for the characters, a look into the character's world and time period, a timeline of Canada's history, maps, Questions and Answers with the Authors, and tons of interactive activities and projects. Go! Check it out. Who will be your favorite character?


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