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Stones for My Father Hardcover – March 22, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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.”
—BayViews

“… 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

  • 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: #2,172,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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
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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Format: Hardcover
One of the reasons I enjoy historical fiction so much is that it can take you to a place and time you've never experienced. In this case the backdrop for the story is the Boer War, which was disastrous for the British, who are driving the Boers from their farms. We experience this chaotic time through the eyes of Corlie Roux, a skinny young girl living with her stern mother and younger siblings in the Transvaal. Most of the Afrikaner men and young boys are off fighting the British, but Corlie's father is already in the graveyard, having died of consumption. Corlie's only friend seems to be Sipho, an African boy who is her matie, or playmate, and who teaches her the ways of the bush, telling stories together and fishing and tracking animals with her.

But when she and Sipho see the English "khakis" nearby, Corlie and her family flee to the laager, groups of Boers hiding out in the bush. On their journey, Corlie watches helplessly by as she sees their family farm burned by the British. While foraging for food, Corlie and her brother meet a kind Canadian soldier--a Khaki, but one who provides them with some precious meat. They finally meet up with the laager after a trek of many days across the veld, but their safe haven is short lived. Soon discovered by British soldiers, Corlie and all the others are forced to surrender, then sent to a "voluntary refugee camp," which more resembles an internment camp, where the conditions are harsh indeed, with scarce food, water, or other resources for the thousands of women and children imprisoned there. Corlie and her family are "undesirables"--those whose menfolk were still fighting the British, and were given the lowest rations.
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