The moment Ellie and her father pull up in front of Grandmother Acklebee's farm in Weybolt, Saskatchewan, Ellie knows she isn't wanted. But Ellie's father has just taken a job as a traveling salesman,
The moment Ellie and her father pull up in front of Grandmother Acklebee's farm in Weybolt, Saskatchewan, Ellie knows she isn't wanted. But Ellie's father has just taken a job as a traveling salesman, and he has no other choice. The road is no place for a nine-year-old.
Ellie doesn't know her grandmother, but she learns quickly that the older woman blames her son-in-law and granddaughter for her daughter's death. And although her Uncle Roger is a kind man, Ellie is quickly cowed by the angry old woman, who shows her little kindness and no affection. Determined to survive the situation with her dignity intact, Ellie isn't about to show her grandmother that she can be hurt.
But how long can Ellie pretend that she doesn't care? And is there no way to melt her grandmother's heart? Set on the Canadian prairies of the mid-fifties, Tumbleweed Skies is a moving story of isolation, loneliness, and one family's journey to heal itself.
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"Set on the Canadian prairies in the 1950s, Tumbleweed Skies
uses character and setting to illustrate the isolation of this family and also the strengths. Forgoing a clean, happy ending, the book concludes with continuing complexity but a feeling of hopefulness that healing will occur. Tumbleweed Skies
is accessible to younger readers and yet doesn't shy away from complex issues of life choices, difficult circumstances, and uneasy relationships. It lends itself to good discussions about character development and motivation. Recommended." ***/4
— CM magazine
"Grandma is as mean as the evil stepmother character in a classic fairy tale, but this moving novel is far from fantasy; it is its realism that makes it so powerful. Quiet as a mouse, Ellie does her chores, but there is nothing that she can do right in Grandma's eyes, and she feels sad, lonely, and imprisoned. Many kids will recognize the sorrow and difficulty of living with a hostile, bitter relative."
— Booklist starred review
"A solid novel for use in literature circles and for recreational reading, although it may appeal to a limited audience due to its 1950s, rural setting. Sherrard's writing style is engaging and easy to read. Her ability to paint the emotional distress of a motherless young girl as she attempts to cope with her new surroundings and unenthusiastic care giver is heart-wrenching."
Rating: G - Good
— Resource Links
"What a beautiful bittersweet book. I love that this story is all Canadian - written by a Canadian author and based on a Canadian Prairie. . . What I immediately felt as I read this book is that absolutely everyone in this story is broken and in desperate need of love. . . This book is so poignant. . . The lack of communication and verbally sharing of feelings is palpable. You wanted to scream "share, share what you are feeling". A wonderfully put together book."
This gentle, insightful book does not have a Hollywood ending. Rather, it is realistic and open-ended. Tumbleweed Skies is one of the best orphan child novels since Anne of Green Gables.
— Professionally Speaking
"This heartfelt story chronicles a prairie family adjusting to grief and change. As she explores the familial relationships, author Valerie Sherrard also provides fascinating descriptions of life in rural Canada."
— Book Page
"Quiet moments abound and effectively convey a remarkable level of feeling, making this a worthy and moving purchase."
Valerie Sherrard has written a number of books for young readers including Kate which was a White Pine Award Honour Book and an IODE National Chapter Violet Downey Award Recommended Title. A mother of three, former foster parent to approximately 70 teenagers, and the Executive Director of a group home for adolescents for ten years, Valerie now lives with her husband in Miramichi, New Brunswick.
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Booklist Editors' Choice 2010 award winner's list
Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children's Literature Nominee, 2010
On the Ontario Library Association Best Bets List for 2010
Nominated for the 2012 Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award