Felicity Sidnell Reid delivers a compelling, at times harrowing, adventure story that will be enjoyed by readers of any age. There is so much information here that the book belongs in every Ontario classroom studying the lives of the Loyalist settlers. The book is filled with such vivid descriptions of the forest of Upper Canada, the rivers and marshes, the glimpses of Lake Ontario in the distance, and the changing seasons that the reader easily imagines sharing these surroundings. The author’s use of actual place names adds authenticity to this historically accurate story. Highly recommended.
Peggy Dymond Leavey, biographer of Mary Pickford, Laura Secord and Molly Brant, and author of nine novels for young readers.
Reading about John Turner, the young hero of Alone is the perfect antidote to Holden Caulfield, the cynical protagonist of Catcher in the Rye. In this engaging novel, set in 18th century Ontario, a thirteen year-old goes through the rites of passage, guarding the homestead alone in the bush, while his father fetches the rest of the family. John fends off a pack of wolves, a thievish pedlar and a dangerous fever. He makes friends with an Ojibwa boy, learns to spear-fish salmon and delivers a calf. John has what it takes to survive in the bush–spunk, skill and determination. He shows the quintessential pioneer spirit of courage, perseverance and industry. While John takes care of the homestead newly carved out of the bush, the rest of the Turner family makes preparations to leave the relative comfort of a small town on the shores of Lake Ontario and join him at their allotment. We see them through the eyes of Joséphine, an orphan who has been taken in by the family. In her diary, Joséphine tells of their labours and of her own difficulties warding off the unwanted attention of a young lout. Alone introduces us to a panoply of characters–homesteaders, loyalist refugees, a young woman from Quebec, a family of Ojibwas, and a Methodist circuit rider. They made up the cultural patchwork of Canada then and foreshadow the multiculturalism of today. Alone is a coming of age story crowded with life and youthful derring-do. It is a ripping adventure story as well as a compelling lesson in history.
Erika Rummel, author of Head Games and two other novels, a prize winning novella and many academic books.
This book will draw you in and bond you to the characters, their animals and their surroundings. It is a wonderful expression of the life that existed for the early settlers and native peoples of the time. From pioneer log cabin construction to maple syrup making, livestock care, dogs, wolves, chickens, cows, calves, porcupines, geese, carpetbaggers and hustlers—this story is a gem for understanding the early history of the pioneers and the important role native peoples played in helping them survive.
Mary Norton, CEO Cramahe Public Library
Driving along the 401 today, it’s almost impossible to imagine what the countryside near Brighton looked like in the 1790s when Empire Loyalists began carving out their farms and villages from the intractable wilderness. In her story Alone: A Winter in the Woods Felicity Sidnell Reid succeeds admirably in taking us back to that time. John Turner, a young teen, travels with his father and their livestock in the dead of winter to their government grant on the shores of Lake Ontario. they set about clearing trees and erecting a rudimentary log shelter. Then his father leaves, tasking him with guarding their land and protecting their livestock until he returns with the rest of the family. John is left alone there and faces months of loneliness and danger relieved only by the the visit of a friendly Chippewa family. the story is salted with excerpts from the diary of a young French woman, a possible love interest, who stays with the family back in Adolphustown. Many writers fail to mention the matter of faith in their historical stories. In this novel, the visit of the circuit rider, reading the Bible and saying one’s prayers all illustrate the role played by faith in the lives of our pioneers. With its fascinating details of the perils John faces alone and the innovations he must invent to survive, Sidnell Reid’s story reminds me of Robinson Crusoe.
Eric E. Wright, author of thrillers, The Captives of Minara and Riptide as well as many non-fiction titles
I loved the book. It had lots of excitement and thrills, also very descriptive language. My favourite character is John because he is most like me.
Aidan Comes (10 years old)
Excellent…well written, with vivid story-telling. A charming authentic and brave book which recreates an important time in our history…
Cynthia Reyes, author of A Good Home (BPS Books, 2014) and a regular contributor to Arabella magazine.
Felicity Sidnell Reid uses vivid description of southern Ontario in the late 1700s in Alone: A Winter in the Woods. Thirteen year old John shows resilience, responsibility and self-reliance during his ten weeks of solitude. Reid’s story transports the reader to a time in early Canada where nothing came easily—a sharp contrast to today’s convenience. John’s story could offer students and teachers an entry point to discussion about local history, character education and our relationship with nature. I highly recommend Alone :A Winter in the Woods. A valuable asset to any school library or classroom!
Jessica Outram, author and publisher of From the Cottage Porch and The Writing Spiral. Teacher of writing and School Principal for the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board.