Summary: Thirteen year-old Katie is about to head to Labrador for a summer of cod fishing with her family that will change her life. By the end of the summer, her father is lost at sea, her mother is dead and her youngest sister, Hannah, is missing. Trying to find a way to keep her remaining family together, Katie makes the hard decision to leave her sister Ruth in the Grenfell orphanage in St. Anthony, Newfoundland to go to Halifax, Nova Scotia in search of Hannah. Following one false lead after another, Katie remains determined to find her lost sister, even if it means giving up her life-long dream of becoming a nurse.
Number of Pages: 258
Age Range: 13-15
Review: Over the course of a single summer, Kate Andrews becomes the head of her family at only thirteen years-old. Grief-stricken over the deaths of her father and her mother, Katie turns her focus to finding her lost sister and bringing her home.
A work of historical fiction, A Sky Black With Crows shines a light on the hardships of the mercantile system on fishermen and their families in the early 1900s. Katie’s story is set amidst the backdrop of the beginning of World War I, when Newfoundland was still separate from Canada and moving to Halifax meant moving to another country. This book is informative, and I have to confess that up until I read it I never really thought about a Canada without Newfoundland and Labrador, or, alternately, a Newfoundland and Labrador without Canada.
When Katie went to school in Halifax and was caught off guard by students singing a song about Nova Scotia instead of “Ode to Newfoundland” and “God Save the King” like she was used to doing at home, I was a little tripped up though. Katie goes on to say that Canada’s mother country was England making it sound like Newfoundland did not have a mother country. Why then would Newfoundlanders sing “God Save the King” before they were part of Canada?
A Sky Black With Crows does what good historical fiction should do, it makes me want to read more non-fiction books about the time period featured in Walsh’s book. Reading this book made me painfully aware of how limited my knowledge of pre-Canadian history is. As I tend to think though, when in doubt, turn to books. (Or more books in this case.)
“Etta’s eyes lit up. ‘Oh, Katie. I still got pictures in me head from that last book yeh read me. I can’t understand how so many pictures can come about from just letters in a page.'” – Etta from A Sky Black With Crows by Alice Walsh, page 33
A Sky Black With Crows by Alice Walsh is published by Red Deer Press(2006).