Rachel: A Mighty Big Imagining


80 pages
Contains Maps
ISBN 0-14-100252-2
DDC jC813'.54




Illustrations by Ron Lightburn
Reviewed by Deborah Dowson

Deborah Dowson is a Canadian children’s librarian living in Powell,


Rachel was born into slavery in 1773 on a rice plantation in North
Carolina. During the American Revolution her family helped the Loyalist
soldiers with the promise that after the war the British would provide a
safe passage to freedom in Nova Scotia.

It is hard to imagine a life more bleak, cold, and bereft of comfort
than the one the family finds waiting there. They endure the winter in a
freezing pit cabin dug into the ground, with barely enough cornmeal to
keep from starving. The arrival of a new baby is a joy to her parents,
but only adds to Rachel’s discomfort. Rachel wonders if slavery is
preferable to this miserable life. When her mother and the baby become
sick, Rachel learns to care for the baby and with the help of a new
Native friend the family survives the winter. With spring comes
employment for her father and the promise of a better future for them

Judging from the success of the similar American Girl series in the
United States, there is definitely a keen interest in this type of
historical fiction among 8– to 12-year-old girls. Readers will easily
identify with the strong, independent characters their own age who
acquaint them in detail with life in a very difficult and dangerous
world. The novel’s illustrations and production are first rate. This
book is also a great introduction to an interesting page of Canadian
history that provokes thought as well as imagination. Highly


Kositsky, Lynne., “Rachel: A Mighty Big Imagining,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 29, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/21809.