Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: James Heneghan (1930-) Biography - Personal to Rick Jacobson Biography - Personal » Constance Horne (1927-) Biography - Writings, Sidelights - Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards

Constance Horne (1927-) - Sidelights

review canadian orphan accidental

Constance Horne has long had an interest in history. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, Horne taught Canadian history in Manitoba and British Columbia schools. Then, when her youngest child began kindergarten, Horne began teaching her favorite subject in a new way, by writing historical fiction for children.

The Accidental Orphan begins in late-nineteenth-century England, where an eleven-year-old girl named Ellen works as a flower-seller. At that time, England often sent orphaned street children to Canada to be adopted by farming families who needed more helping hands. Although Ellen is technically an orphan, as both of her parents are dead, she lives with a caring uncle. She is only shipped to Canada accidentally. Another street urchin hides some stolen goods in Ellen's flower basket without her knowledge, and while running from the angry shop owner, she becomes mixed in with a group of orphans bound for Canada. Eventually, the adults in charge of the orphans realize the mix-up and try to contact Ellen's uncle, but in the meantime she is sent to live with a large, friendly family in Manitoba. There, Ellen learns such foreign skills as growing wheat and caring for chickens. The Accidental Orphan "provid[es] an entertaining snapshot of prairie life in 1885," a reviewer commented in Resource Links. "The characters are well drawn," Gernot R. Wieland noted in Canadian Literature, and "the feelings of despair, abandonment, hope, and joy realistically portrayed."

Adopted by a family on a Manitoba homestead, eleven-year-old Ellen faces calamities and comes to appreciate family ties both blood and adoptive. (Cover illustrations by Barbara Munzar.)

The Tenth Pupil is set in a logging camp on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in 1934. The protagonist is eleven-year-old Trudy Paine, one of nine children who have registered for the camp's small school that year. But the government requires ten pupils to justify sending a teacher, so a tenth pupil must be found. Finally, one is, but the boy's presence is unacceptable to many because he is Japanese-Canadian. Trudy, who befriends the boy, is mystified by the racism of those around her. "In portraying a complex period of Canadian history from a child's perspective, the author faces a difficult balancing act," Sheila Alexander commented in Canadian Materials, suggesting that, though valuable, the middle-grades students at whom the book is targeted "might not appreciate the broader [historical] context which the author provides." However, Resource Links reviewer Heather Farmer wrote that The Tenth Pupil "is excellent for studying Canadian history, friendship, and multiculturalism."

Horne returned to the year 1934 and to her native Manitoba for Papa's Surprises, the story of a large French-Canadian Imitating the fur traders of their Manitoba homeland, Celine and Philippe set off for adventure in Papa's Surprises, written by Constance Horne and illustrated by Mia Hansen. family. Although the family faces serious challenges from weather and wild animals in their effort to scratch out a living, "Horne cushions young readers from any real worry about the family in her depiction of a secure homestead and strong healthy family," explained Jill McClay in Resource Links. This year, father Gabrielle Doucet brings home two large surprises for his children: a harmonium (a musical instrument similar to an organ) in the winter and a canoe in the spring. With this canoe, middle children Phillipe and Celine explore the area and its wildlife, including moose and beavers. Through the children's journeys, "environmental and ecological cycles are presented with wonder, mystery, and an innocent playfulness of childhood," commented Canadian Materials reviewer Denise Wier.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Canadian Children's Literature, 2000, review of The Accidental Orphan, pp. 83-85.

Canadian Literature, summer, 2000, Gernot R. Wieland, review of The Accidental Orphan, pp. 143-145.

Canadian Materials, November, 1992, Adele M. Fasick, review of Jo Boy Deserts and Other Stories, p. 305; November 3, 1995, A. Edwardsson, review of Emily Carr's Woo; October 16, 1998, Mary Thomas, review of The Accidental Orphan; September 22, 2000, Gillian Richardson, review of Lost in the Blizzard; November 16, 2001, Sheila Alexander, review of The Tenth Pupil; May 9, 2003, Denise Weir, review of Papa's Surprises.

Prairie Fire, autumn, 1998, review of The Accidental Orphan, p. 166.

Quill and Quire, October, 1992, review of Jo Boy Deserts and Other Stories, pp. 35-36; December, 1994, review of Trapped by Coal, p. 34; May, 1998, review of The Accidental Orphan, pp. 34-35.

Resource Links, October, 1998, review of The Accidental Orphan, p. 6; December, 2001, Heather Farmer, review of The Tenth Pupil, pp. 14-16; April, 2003, Jill McClay, review of Papa's Surprises, pp. 14-15.

School Library Journal, June, 1995, Lucinda Lockwood, review of Trapped by Coal, p. 110.*

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