Cover image for The belonging place
The belonging place
Little, Jean, 1932-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Toronto ; New York : Viking, 1997.
Physical Description:
xvii, 124 pages ; 23 cm
In 1848, sixteen-year-old Elspet looks back on her life and describes how she came to be orphaned in Scotland, went to live with relatives, and emigrated with them to a rough but rewarding existence in Canada.
Reading Level:
720 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.5 5.0 18755.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 3.5 7 Quiz: 13415.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



An inspiring story of self discovery.In Jean Little's first historical novel, Elspet Mary, a young Scottish orphan, embarks on the journey of a lifetime when she emigrates with relatives to Canada in the 1840s. Her struggle to make a place for herself, not only in her adoptive family but in her new home as well, is powerfuland poignant, told as only Jean Little can tell it.Jean Little is the award-winning author of more than twenty books for young readers, including the novels His Banner Over Me , which Kirkus called "exceptional storytelling, unforced, and powerful",and Mine for Keeps (both Viking).

Author Notes

Jean Little was born in Taiwan in 1932. She was born with a severe eye problem and is severely visually impaired. Little grew up in Ontario and graduated from the University of Toronto. A special "talking" computer assists her with her writing. She has a retired seeing-eye dog named Ritz and a new one named Pippa, with whom she travels.

Little has written more than 25 children's books, and won a number of awards, including a Canadian Library Association (CLA) Book of the Year Medal and a Canada Council Children's Literature Award. Little has been writing children's books for almost forty years. Listen for the Singing was the Canada Council Children's Literature Award winner in 1977. Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird was the CLA Book of the Year in 1985. Little's first book, Mine for Keeps, won the Little Brown Children's Book Award in 1962 and was republished by Viking Penguin in 1995.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-6. Elspet Mary was three when her mother was killed by a runaway horse. Her father, often away at sea, took her to live with her aunt and uncle in a small village. By the time news reached her that her father's ship was lost at sea, her aunt, uncle, and cousins had become her cherished family, and the tiny village had become her "belonging place." Then her uncle decides to move the family to the Canadian wilderness. At the thought of being uprooted once more, Elspet, who has already loved and lost so much, experiences a whole range of emotions till she finally realizes that it is her family, not a place, that gives her a sense of belonging. This finely crafted story will captivate youngsters, but its authentic Scottish dialect may be difficult for the intended audience to tackle without help. --Lauren Peterson

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6‘To ease her boredom while her broken leg mends, 16-year-old Elspet writes her life story, from her early years in Scotland to her family's homestead in Canada in the mid-19th century. After Elspet's mother dies when she is three, her seafaring father places the girl with her uncle's family in the Scottish countryside. When her father is lost at sea, Elspet is adopted by them. Although she feels secure and happy, she strongly resists Da's decision to take the family to Canada and is unable to express her fear of moving. In Canada, the family settles on a remote homestead. The loneliness of the backwoods is relieved when neighbors settle nearby. The ship voyage is depicted as typically miserable with seasickness, filth, stench, and boredom, and the new land is properly majestic and inspiring. There are enough bannocks and bairns to give the flavor of the auld country but no real explanation of the hardships of life in northern Scotland or the reason why so many people were leaving. However, Little excels in creating characters dealing, or not dealing, with their feelings. Surrounded by unfaltering love, Elspet writes of her lingering fears and doubts about her place in the family. With their need for belonging and love, young people will identify with and understand her.‘Melissa Hudak, Northern Illinois Medical Center, McHenry, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.