Every person needs a voice to tell his or her story, but first they have to find that story and understand it themselves. Eleven year old Emmeline has lost her ability to speak due to a severe illness she contracted while travelling in Africa. Her grandmother, Teolani McHovec, has invited her to accompany her on her boat, Permanent Wants, this summer. Gran is in the process of renovating the boat into a floating book store and plans to travel along the shores of the Rideau Canal Waterway stopping at places when it appears people there are in need of a book shop.
Emmeline's parents are reluctant to let her go, though they hope that the summer away from home will be helpful in ways that structured therapy hasn't been.
Over the days and weeks that follow, Emmeline and her gran stop at many small towns and homesteads, meeting a most unique and interesting assortment of people. Gran's friend Picardy Bob and Captain Lillwyn are two of my favourites. They both seem to have ties with numerous people up and down the length of the waterway. Each and every story starts out in the realm of possible, but then slowly starts to veer from the expected and ends up somewhere fantastic. Author Jamieson Findlay spins these tales so subtly that he had me totally convinced they were possible. I can't tell you about these adventures or I might give away too much, but I can tell you they involve mythical places, huge snakes, ancient languages, pirates and even curses.
As the two travellers move from town to town and adventure to adventure, you can see that they are affected by what they have experienced, that they are ever so slightly changed. As a parent, I saw each of these tales as a launching point of exploration. I know that my son would have been searching out all sorts of details about giant snakes, while my daughter would have been donning a pirate's outfit and swinging an imaginary cutlass. As for myself, I still want to learn to identify a few more stars in the night's sky.
This book is sure to encourage your young reader to explore further interests just as Emmeline did. By the end of the novel, she has found ways to compensate for not have a speaking voice that allow her to get her summer stories across to her family and friends.
The Canadian Book Challenge 5 is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set. All readers are invited to join in the fun. The Challenge is to read 13 books by Canadian Authors during the course of the year, July 1, 2011- July 1, 2012, that's one book for each province and territory.