The Stone in the Meadow
Helen M. Dobie was a teacher-librarian living in Woodstock, Ontario.
Karleen Bradford lives in Ottawa now, but she has travelled extensively with her Foreign Service Officer husband. Born in Toronto, she was raised in Argentina, which gives her a rich heritage to call upon. Many of her short stories, poems, and articles have been published in magazines and school readers. Two previous novels for young people, The Other Elizabeth and I Wish There Were Unicorns have also been published by Gage in their Jeanpac series. With her latest novel for young people, Karleen Bradford has joined the ranks of writers who explore other times and places by means of a time warp of one kind or another.
Jenifer goes to Cornwall, England, with her mother to visit Greyrocks, “the home in Cornwall that had been in their family for over a hundred years.” A large rock in a field behind the house holds a deep fascination for Jenifer but frightens her at the same time. While standing in its shadow one day, she suddenly realizes that, while everything looks almost the same, there is no longer a porch on Greyrocks and there is a dense woods on the side of the hill which had previously been a smooth field. A young boy appears dressed in odd, old-fashioned clothes. When she calls to him he runs away. Suddenly afraid, she steps back to touch the rock, and she is back in the present.
This is the start of a series of visits into the past. She gets to know Perran, the young boy, and together they explore the countryside of one hundred years ago. Time always stands still while she is away so no one ever suspects. Her grandfather has told her about the ancient Druids who may have worshipped at the stone. One day when she and Perran are playing they decide to try to go even further back in time and find themselves in the midst of a Druid ceremony. Jenifer has an uncanny resemblance to the Druid priestess, who captures and imprisons her. Poor Perran is made a slave. The excitement and terror mount as the story unfolds and they both barely escape with their lives as they race back to the stone. Although they have been away weeks in the other time frame, it is still only moments later when Jenifer gets back to Greyrocks, where her mother is still in the middle of packing to go back home to Canada.
This is a fine fast-paced story with interesting characters who become real friends to the reader. The children grow and develop in their personalities in the land of the past but Jenifer returns immediately to her original state when she comes back.
The author builds the tension well, sustaining the reader’s interest right to the end of the story. This book is highly recommended for eleven- and twelve-year-olds and even for unsophisticated young teens.