Quill & Quire
Though it is the third book in Brindle & Glass’s Courageous Kids series, Island Kids marks the debut of Victoria writer Tara Saracuse, and it’s a promising beginning. Saracuse’s 22 stories, all based (to some degree) on factual accounts, give a sweeping, historical look at young people’s experiences on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands – from First Nations life in pre-contact days to the adventures of contemporary children circumnavigating the island in tall ships.
Saracuse is careful to represent diversity: the “courageous kids” include an early black settler on Saltspring Island, a Japanese girl whose family is forciby evicted from their farm during the Second World War, and some contemporary Filipino immigrant boys experiencing their first snow. The subjects of the stories also vary, from risky adventures – like a three-day journey in small canoes across the Georgia Strait in 1858, or young Joe Garner being chased by a cougar – to less dramatic modern-day memories of summer childhood pleasures at the beach in Parksville.
The quality of the stories in Island Kids is uneven. For example, the two opening stories, which imagine pre-contact First Nations children retelling myths as they wait for a feast to begin, don’t work all that well, despite some vivid sensory descriptions. The modern accounts of First Nations experiences – the escape of two boys from a Residential School, and the attempts to protect Luna, a young whale in Gold River – are easier to follow.
Among the kids represented here are well-known figures such as Emily Carr and James Dunsmuir, and the stories present many significant episodes in the Island’s history. At the end of each story, a section entitled “What do we know for sure?” distinguishes between fact and fiction, and suggests print and online sources for more information.
"The debut of Victoria writer Tara Saracuse, and it's a promising beginning." —Quill & Quire
"Island Kids is history of the most memorable kind." —The Globe & Mail
Five Questions with Monday: "Given that history tends to be about as popular as algebra and ddentists for most kids, we couldn't pass up the chance to ask Saracuse about her archival obsessions." —Monday Magazine
"These stories offer suspense, creativity, and age-appropirate adventures for children." —Story Circle Book Reviews
"Many University of Victoria students dream of publishing books one day, but it's rare that they do it while still in school." —Victoria News