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Friday, June 25, 2010

northward to the moon, written by polly horvath. Groundwood Books, 2010. $14.95 ages 12 and up

"I open my eyes and stretch. I have woken up because instead of the smooth gliding asphalt beneath the wheels, we are bumping along over potholes and spitting gravel. Then I see it is not so much a road as a long driveway. Land stretches in all directions but there is a barbed-wire fence."

What a treat it always is for me to open a new book by Polly Horvath. I have no idea where it will lead, but I do know that adventures await each turning of the page and a cast of wonderful, quirky characters is sure to be added to my list of new favorite people!

This book is a sequel to My One Hundred Adventures (Groundwood, 2008) and allows us to revisit Jane Fielding and her family which includes a sister, two brothers and a 'poor poet' mother. Its setting is their beach home in Massachusetts. She has a new stepfather, Ned and in this new novel, we watch as Jane's relationship with Ned is explored more fully. She and Ned are share the same soul when it comes to adventures and the lure of the outlaw life. As the second chapter in their life story begins, the family is living in Saskatchewan. Ned has been fired and all set to wander when he gets word that a friend is dying. The family is invited along on a new adventure...Jane is delighted! She tells us that 'Ned had promised me nothing but adventures when we got to Canada, but this is the first whiff I’ve caught of them.' Their journey begins and after a series of unexpected events, the find themselves on a ranch in Nevada where Ned's mother lives.

This then becomes a story about families and the fact they sometimes work, and sometimes don't. Dorothy is aging, has a fall and plans must be made for her care. Dorothy is adamant that she can take care of herself and lets her family know it: 'I’ll admit I may have to move somewhere where someone will assist me ...but I don’t have to put up with you all planning it behind my back like I’m senile... Sometimes I wish I’d had gerbils instead when the mothering instinct came over me.'

As Jane watches the family dynamics while they determine a course of action for their mother, she also watches her young sister develop a loving relationship with her step-grandmother. Her world changes in a number of ways. And so it goes...

Once at home on the beach again, Dorothy with them, things are normal and peaceful. That is, until the last two lines!

Now, we must wait for the third book in the life of Jane Fielding. I hope it doesn't take too long. Polly Horvath, you are a wonder!

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