Cover image for Kalifax
Thornton, Duncan, 1962-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Regina : Coteau Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
168 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 19 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.4 6.0 41694.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A dazzling fantasy tale about a brave crew attempting to sail north to the eaves of the world, fighting snow-goblins and finding Grandfather Frost, all the while guided by the magical legend of Kalifax.

The Captain wants to sail his ship, the Volantix, to the other side of the West, into spice winds and lazy islands that bloom like summer flowers. He'll have to take his crew under the rifters of the sky, past strange squeaking beasts, and through narrow icy seas. None of the sailors want to go, until Tom tells them the story of Kalifax, the magical elfin torch that burns brighter as danger gets greater, and will always keep you warm.

Trapped in the ice, the crew encounters the fearsome snow-goblins and ice-trolls. All looks grim until Grandfather Frost himself appears, down from the very roof of the world to see to their keep.

Kalifax is a magical, allegorical trip through the Northwest Passage, told in a lilting and lively language that will keep readers of all ages enthralled. Accompanied by a dozen fantastical drawings to illustrate the voyage, Kalifax is the first step in a campaign to mythologize Canada and its history.

Duncan Thornton is the author of three juvenile fantasy adventures: Kalifax, a finalist for the Governor-General's Award for Children's Literature, the Mr. Christie Book Award program; and two Manitoba Book Awards; Captain Jenny & the Sea of Wonders and The Star-Glass. He has also written radio drama, theatrical drama and several screenplays, in addition to his fiction and non-fiction prose.

Reviews 1

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-9-When their ship, the Volantix, becomes trapped in the ice, young Tom sets out alone over the frozen lands to find help, despite his fear of snow-goblins and ice trolls. Santalike Grandfather Frost rescues him at the last possible moment, and together they save the crew and winter in one of Grandfather Frost's lodges before continuing their voyage. This myth-infused novel is set in a world only half a step from our own. In fact, the book reads as more of a seafaring adventure and survival story than a fantasy novel. The characters, save Tom, seem like characters out of myths; they are one-dimensional, described wholly by their name or rank. The writing is solid, but the denseness of the prose may put off some readers. Still, it's a good choice for large collections or readers who have finished Ursula Le Guin's "Earthsea" novels (Bantam).-Timothy Capehart, Leominster Public Library, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.