Friday, October 2, 2009

Book review: Days of Toil and Tears by Sarah Ellis

Dear Canada: Days of Toil and Tears: The Child Labour Diary of Flora Rutherford by Sarah Ellis (Published by Scholastic Canada, February 1, 2008)

Young Flora Rutherford grew up in an orphanage in late 19th century Canada, where she and the other children spent their days dreaming up imaginary lives where they had families and homes. So Flora is thrilled when she learns she is to leave the orphanage now that her aunt and uncle have found jobs and a place to live in the mill town of Almonte, Ontario, and can finally provide a home for Flora.

Flora loves her aunt and uncle, who are very kind to her. And she is thrilled to have a family of her own after so many years living in the orphanage. But there is also hardship, as she must become a child laborer at the mill her aunt and uncle work at, rather than go to school and play with her friends as a child should. Flora describes everything that happens to her in a diary written to her parents who died when she was young.

Days of Toil and Tears is an excellent book from the Dear Canada series (a Canadian version of the Dear America series) that shows the hardships of life for poor children in the 1800s, who often had to give up their childhood and work grueling jobs so their families could surive. This is a good book to give to a preteen who enjoys historical fiction, and although I am much older than the target audience, I did really enjoy this book as I love historical fiction written in diary format - the Dear America series was my favorite series as a preteen and young teen and I was so sad when they stopped publishing them, so I was thrilled to find the Dear Canada series.

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