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Hero of Lesser Causes


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About the Author

Julie Johnston received the Governor General's Award for these her first two books. Her third novel, The Only Outcast, was short-listed for the Governor General's Award, as was her most recent book, In Spite of Killer Bees. Julie Johnston lives in Peterborough, Ontario.


Gr 5-8‘A resilient and adventurous girl worships her gifted older brother; when he is stricken with polio and loses interest in life, she commits herself to restoring his broken spirit. A story set in Canada in 1946 that pulses with emotion and determination. (June 1993)

Johnston makes a rousing debut with this moving book, set in 1946, winner of the Governor General's Award for Children's Literature in Canada. Keely, age 12, and her spirited, slightly older brother Patrick are ``Siamese twins joined at the mind.'' But a carefree summer in their Canadian town ends abruptly when Patrick contracts polio (presumably from swimming, despite warnings, in a particular pool). Frustrated by his near-total paralysis, the boy lashes out at family and friends, and castigates himself. Eager to bolster Patrick's morale, his sister enlists the help of best friend Ginny and Alex, a good-natured new neighbor. Although the story takes off slowly (a paragraph is spent on toasting bread), it accelerates into a spectacular novel, balancing coming-of-age angst with the grief from a sudden, devastating affliction. Keely, a captivating narrator, has moments of jocularity; after a showdown with an angry skunk, for example, she confides, ``I knew I had reached the depths, the absolute Grand Canyon of embarrassment.'' Although the characters live in a more innocent time, they are easy to identify with, as is this story's espousal of hope and determination over self-pity and despair. Ages 10-14. (May)

..".spectacular ..."
-Publishers Weekly [starred review]

"An outstanding book..."
-From the Citation for the Governor General's Award

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