The Hollow Tree
, the third novel in Janet Lunn's trilogy focusing on the historical roots of Ontario, was the winner of the Governor General's Award for Children's Literature. Shadow in Hawthorn Bay
looks at the pioneer experience, and The Root Cellar
, the first book in the series, explores Canada's early days as a nation, while The Hollow Tree
focuses on the American Revolution and the part that war played in Canadian history. Thirteen-year-old Phoebe Olcott is caught smack in the middle of this bitter conflict. Her father, Jonathan, has decided to join the rebelling Patriots while her beloved cousin, Gideon, has enlisted in the Loyalist forces. After her father is killed in one of the revolution's early battles, Phoebe is taken in by Gideon's parents. But when Gideon secretly returns to his community, he's captured and hanged as a traitorous spy by members of the Patriots' Committee of Public Safety and Gideon's family holds Phoebe partly responsible for his death. Finding a message from Gideon in the hollow tree where they had left messages for one another in more innocent times, Phoebe, despite her desire to keep out of the conflict, decides to deliver a coded message to Fort Ticonderoga in honour of Gideon's memory. It's a difficult journey through the wilderness, and reaching the fort, Phoebe finds it deserted. Phoebe can't now go back to her home, where she'll be considered a traitor and probably hanged, so she joins forces with a group of Loyalists who are making their way to Canada. Lunn brings this remarkable period to life and creates a story that is at once a gripping adventure and a tender love story, as well as a first-rate historical novel. (Ages 12 to 16) --Jeffrey Canton
From School Library Journal
Grade 5-9-Neither patriot nor Tory, Phoebe finds herself caught between conflicting loyalties. After her father is killed fighting for freedom with the rebels, the 15-year-old lives with her Loyalist relatives in the mountains along the Vermont/New Hampshire border. Her eldest cousin Gideon, who serves as a British scout, is caught and hanged in the village after he secretly returns. Phoebe's sense of love and duty compels her to try to complete Gideon's dangerous mission, and she sets out for Fort Ticonderoga through the wilderness. Her journey becomes a voyage of self-discovery as well as of survival. As the Loyalist families become increasingly persecuted, the teen joins the refugees heading to Canada for safety. She struggles to do what is right and stay true to herself, in the face of mistrust from her cousin Anne and other refugees who hold her father's "betrayal" against her. Lunn provides an eye-opening glimpse into a different aspect of this period than many readers will have encountered. Engaging, suspenseful, well-written historical fiction with excellent characterizations and a well-paced plot.Robin L. Gibson, Muskingum County Library System, Zanesville, OH
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