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Within a Painted Past Paperback – Sep 1 1994

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From School Library Journal

Gr 4-6--Allison, 12, is drawn to a series of four seasonal paintings in her aunt's guest room, and when she reaches towards the first one, snow escapes and falls onto her hand. Inevitably, she steps into the painting and embarks upon a series of interesting adventures with her ancestors, a 19th-century mining family in Canmore, Alberta. The premise provides an excellent hook to grab readers who enjoy this genre, and they will be interested to see how Allison matures as the story unfolds. The parallel themes of self-discovery and time travel are woven together very well. However, the novel's resolution, in which present and past are finally connected, is contrived and unsatisfying. Also, Allison's aunt, uncle, and neighbor are shallow characters and seem to exist only to provide counterpoints for the girl's problem-solving and ``thinking out loud.'' Hutchins effectively re-creates the ``old days'' in Canmore, but modern-day Banff, Alberta, remains a cardboard backdrop. A simple black-and-white drawing illustrates each chapter. Superior examples of Canadian time-travel fiction for this age group include Kit Pearson's A Handful of Time (Puffin, 1991) and Margaret Buffie's The Haunting of Frances Rain (Scholastic, 1989).

Lucinda Lockwood, Thomas Haney Secondary School, Maple Ridge, BC

Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Hazel Hutchins is a master of compelling stories for young people. She has written more than twenty-five books for children and has won numerous awards, including the Mr. Christie's Book Award, the Silver Birch Award and inclusion in the White Raven Collection of the International Youth Library in Munich.

Ruth Ohi has illustrated many of Hazel Hutchins's picture books. Her joyous, sensitive, and humorous illustrations are familiar to families all over North America.

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