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Stones for My Father Hardcover – March 22, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2012 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award

 “A riveting book about the Anglo-Boer war at the turn of the last century and Canada’s place in it… Kent draws her characters and the landscape around them in penetrating prose… Today’s children will develop heartfelt admiration and respect for Corlie Rioux. Though this young heroine struggles with the loss of parental love, a special friendship, and her home, she holds steadfast, brave, and true and emerges a survivor… At times raw, but always gripping, this novel packs an emotional punch.”
– Jury Citation,  TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award

 “…Trilby Kent reveals the way South African Boers were targets for large-scale extermination during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), and how Africans were maligned and oppressed by the Boers. Through the eyes of twelve-year-old Corlie Roux, the narrator, we trace the suffering of Boer farmers….”
—2012 Children’s Africana Book Awards Committee

“The more prominent review media seem to have completely missed this gem from a Canadian-Brit. In quickly evocative prose, Kent creates an immediate and scintillating [story]. Kent has a keen craft and understands her audience, and the U.S. children’s literature world would do well to start paying her more attention.”

“… This book is particularly unique … its human rather than historical elements are what make this thread of the story the most compelling element in Stones for my Father. As is so often the case with historical fiction, the relationships, rather than the history, are what bring the tale to life; Kent performs this trick with impressive dexterity.”
—Recommended, CM Magazine
“… The descriptions of time and place in the novel are mostly strong and the language vivid … [an] entertaining story. Corlie is an excellent role model, and many young readers will be able to relate to her trials.”
—Quill & Quire

“In her powerful and compelling novel set during the Boer War, Kent explores friendship, loss, and the resilience of the human spirit… Corlie Roux is a fascinating, complex heroine, and Kent’s willingness to present her and her situation unblinkingly is a gift to us all… At times raw, but always gripping, this novel packs an emotional punch.”
—TD Canada Trust Canadian Children’s Literary Award Jury Comments

About the Author

TRILBY KENT was born in Toronto, Ontario, but grew up in cities on both sides of the Atlantic. After completing degrees at Oxford University and The London School of Economics, she worked in the rare books department at a prominent auction house before turning to journalism. She now lives in London, England. Stones for My Father is Trilby Kent’s second young adult novel.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 970L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Tundra Books (March 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770492526
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770492523
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,004,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicola Mansfield on July 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Reason for Reading: In my love of all things Victorian, I enjoy reading historical fiction about the Boer War, especially when it involves the Canadians who fought in the war.

This is a haunting story of the Boer War (fought in what is now South Africa) between the Afrikaners (of Dutch descent) and the British. Told through the eyes of a young girl, we are told the behind the scenes side of the war, that of the Boer women and children left alone on the veldt to fend for themselves. Often their homes are burnt to the ground so that they cannot help their soldiers hiding out in the bush and many turn to joining together and forming laager's with their wagons to protect themselves against the British. But eventually, in this losing war, woman and children are rounded up and placed in internment camps for the duration. Corlie's father died of sickness before the war started, so she is left with a mother who hates her for some secret reason and two little brothers, one four years younger and the other a babe in arms.

Quite a tragic tale as we learn of Corlie's life, where the only love she's known came from her now deceased father. She is close to her younger brother and to the African servant boy, but she is getting to an age where her playing with him is now frowned upon. A harsh, mother who obviously loves her brothers and not herself takes them along on their journey away from the British but only to end up under their guard in the interment camp. Corlie does make a secret friend along the way though of a Corporal who looks British only he has a small maple leaf on his uniform to distinguish him as being Canadian. This man pops up several times in Corlie's life and through him we learn the British side of the War.

A well-written, intense story.
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Format: Hardcover
Trilby Kent's latest novel, Stones for My Father, is an intense and poignant read. We watch the story through the eyes of 12-year-old Corlie Roux, whose world as she knows it is shattered by the effects of the Anglo-Boer War (1899 - 1902).

The story begins after Corlie's father has died from scrofula, and she is left with a mother who has nothing but scorn and bitterness towards her:
"My mother once told me of a dream she had as a young girl... She had dreamed of a child, a boy, with ruddy cheeks and blue eyes like my father's, and a gurgling laugh... I was not that child... Eleven months later, Gert arrived... When my mother laid eyes on him for the first time, the look on her face told me that this, this was the child of her dream."

We experience the grief and isolation that her father's death has placed on Corlie's young life, and are catapulted into the story of her survival.

As a protagonist, Corlie is intelligent, strong, and has feminist tendencies that she must restrict herself from revealing, as this was a time where a woman's identity was based on the home she kept and the children she bore.

We feel her fire as she and her family escape from their home just before it is destroyed by the British, and they find the laager, a group of refugees consisting of women, children, and men who are too old to fight in the war:
"I knew that the women moaned like this because they were afraid, frustrated, and exhausted, and all too aware that their hands were tied. If that is what it meant to be a Boer woman, I wanted none of it. I'd stay a girl forever... or else I'd disguise myself as a boy and run away to join the men on commando as a girl guerrilla...
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Format: Hardcover
I am a sucker for historical fiction. There is something about experiencing that little slice of history through someone who is 'there' and not someone who is reflecting upon it later that allows my imagination to soar. However, I was reluctant to pick up this book because the cover is a plain sepia and brown, and I was unsure of what was waiting for me. My reservations all disappeared once I started reading and was transported to turn of the century South Africa. My eyes raced across the page in an attempt to gobble up the story of Corlie Roux's lost world.

Reading a story from the perspective of a twelve year old girl, I never felt as if I were being talked down to or that Corlie was a character who knew more than the average twelve year old would. Despite the harsh treatment she receives from her mother, Corlie is never a victim. She uses her love for her brothers and her wonderful imagination to make life better for them all. Appropriately defiant, Corlie's strong will helps get her through the pain of her mother's dislike and the subsequent invasion of the British soldiers.

The dynamics of relationships are interesting in this book. While there has been no mention of an overthrowing of the kaffirs (Black Afrikaans) living in this part of South Africa, it is clear that they are considered inferior to the Boers, the White Dutch Afrikaans. The Boers, in turn, are dismissed and treated as badly by the English who are after the rich diamond mines. While the Boers condemn this treatment from the British, they do not think twice at their treatment of their own servants. Corlie's best friend and ally is a kaffir but Corlie even acknowledges that one day they will no longer be friends, but they will have a relationship that is more servant and master.
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