"Home Free," by Sharon Jennings, is finalist for the 2010 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award

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Sharon Jennings children’s novel “Home Free” is a finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award 2010, the winners to be announced this November. Aimed at 9-12 year-olds, the book was published last year by Toronto publisher Second Story Press, the first in its new Gutsy Girl children’s fiction series. In 2009 it was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for children’s fiction.

cover for "Home Free" by Sharon Jennings

Home Free is a fantastic contribution to Canadian children’s literature… Jennings convincingly creates an authentic child’s point of view and perceptions in this dramatic coming-of-age narrative imbued with the power of language, words, and emotions.

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Sharon Jennings children’s novel “Home Free” is a finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award 2010, the winners to be announced this November. Aimed at 9-12 year-olds, the book was published last year by Toronto publisher Second Story Press, the first in its new Gutsy Girl children’s fiction series. In 2009 it was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for children’s fiction.

Set in the 1960s, Home Free is the story of one summer in the life of the quirky and compelling Leanna – “Lee” – Mets. Lee’s passion is to become a writer, even though her mother tells her that good girls should become teachers or nurses. Lee finds herself pulled between her dreams and her mother’s traditional views. She is obsessed with Anne of Green Gables, and at times secretly wishes that she were an orphan. When a girl named Cassandra, a real live orphan, moves in across the street, Lee is thrilled, convinced that they will become kindred spirits like Anne and Diana.

Lee and Cassandra’s friendship gets off to a rocky start, and as the summer goes by, Lee comes to realize that being an orphan is not as romantic as she had imagined. A tragedy in Lee’s family and the truth about Cassandra’s past brings the two girls closer as the summer draws to a close. Quill and Quire magazine called the novel “subtle, wise, and energetic” and “an honest picture of childhood perceptions and the sort of nuanced fortitude it takes simply to mature.”

The TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award jury had this to say about the book:

“Home Free is a fantastic contribution to Canadian children’s literature… Jennings convincingly creates an authentic child’s point of view and perceptions in this dramatic coming-of-age narrative imbued with the power of language, words, and emotions.”

Sharon Jennings has written over 60 books for young people. Her books have received many nominations and awards, including The Ontario Library Association’s Blue Spruce Award for The Bye-Bye Pie, the Mr. Christie’s Silver Seal for Priscilla and Rosy. She has taught writing for young people to adults, and toured the country visiting schools and libraries to talk to young people about her books. Sharon continues to write and edit from her home in Toronto.

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Emma Rodgers