Rats in the Sloop
Fran Ashdown was the Head of the Children's Department, Capilano Branch, North Vancouver District Public Library.
This is a straightforward adventure tale about an orphaned brother and sister, set in the Maritimes in the year 1819. In order to thwart adult plans to separate the pair, Johnny becomes a stowaway on the ship taking Margaret to their aunt and uncle in Fredericton. His arrival is accepted with surprising casualness — in fact, the decision as to whether or not he will be allowed to stay (the central theme of the book) is not treated in a way that creates any dramatic tension. The children gradually settle into their new home and the life of the community and Johnny’s continuing presence in the new family seems assured.
While the story is competent it is not particularly exciting and it does have some technical problems. For example, Johnny’s lengthy absence from St. John goes unremarked, which is a little surprising considering that he must have been in the care of an adult. However, the book provides several interesting descriptions of aspects of early twentieth-century life, and the interaction of affectionate family members provides pleasant if not memorable reading.