Rachel, Book 4: An Elephant Tree Christmas


92 pages
Contains Maps
ISBN 0-14-301671-7
DDC jC813'.54




Illustrations by Ron Lightburn and Janet Wilson
Reviewed by Nanette Morton

Nanette Morton teaches English at McMaster University in Hamilton.


After the American Revolution, Rachel and her mother, Sukey, moved to
Nova Scotia. Although slavery was still legal in the northern colony,
the two, as black Loyalists, were granted their freedom. This final
instalment of the Rachel books in the Our Canadian Girl series, however,
starts out with more hardship for the women. Rachel’s mother has been
captured and sold back into slavery. With her mother gone, Rachel
struggles to keep house for her stepfather and infant brother in the
rough cabin they now call home. She also does something more. In a
secret corner, she keeps a treasure trove known only to her that
contains five English guineas—more money than her stepfather makes in
a year. Rachel is determined to conserve that money so that she can get
her family through the privations of winter. But her resolution is tried
from the start: her enslaved friend Hannah has been turned away by
owners who can no longer afford to feed her. At the same time, Rachel is
burdened by the responsibility of teaching other black children to read.
Again and again, Rachel’s desire to preserve her little family is
balanced by her need to share with other members of her community.

This is the final instalment of a well-written and well-researched
series. Particularly noteworthy is that Kositsky manages to convey the
former slaves’ manner of speech without falling into parody and has
found acceptable substitutions for language no longer considered
acceptable to modern readers. Highly recommended.


Kositsky, Lynne., “Rachel, Book 4: An Elephant Tree Christmas,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 29, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/22583.