Cover image for Mable Riley : a reliable record of humdrum, peril, and romance
Mable Riley : a reliable record of humdrum, peril, and romance
Jocelyn, Marthe.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
279 pages ; 19 cm
In 1901, fourteen-year-old Mable Riley dreams of being a writer and having adventures while stuck in Perth County, Ontario, assisting her sister in teaching school and secretly becoming friends with a neighbor who holds scandalous opinions on women's rights.
Reading Level:
890 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.1 8.0 75121.

Reading Counts RC High School 5.6 13 Quiz: 36427 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


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Material Type
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X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In 1901, fourteen-year-old Mable Riley dreams of being a writer and having adventures while stuck in Perth County, Ontario, assisting her sister in teaching school and secretly becoming friends with a neighbor who holds scandalous opinions on women's rights.

Author Notes

Marthe Jocelyn is an award-winning author and illustrator who worked for many years as a toy designer before turning her hand to writing. She has written six novels, including the critically acclaimed works of historical fiction, Mable Riley and Earthly Astonishments . Jocelyn has also written a nonfiction account of the Foundling Hospital in London, England, entitled , A Home for Foundlings. She has created eight picture books, one of which, Hannah's Collections , was shortlisted for a Governor General's Literary Award for Illustration. Jocelyn has also edited two collections of short stories. Marthe Jocelyn divides her time between New York and Stratford, Ontario.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-10. When 14-year-old Mable leaves home in 1901 with her older sister, who becomes a teacher in Stratford, Ontario, she keeps a diary of humdrum daily life; she also writes a wry, romantic adventure to entertain herself. Of course, the two works comment on each other, and some kids may end up skipping the made-up romance as Mable finds drama in real life not only in her first kiss but also in the exciting struggle of the suffragist movement. Mable makes friends with Mrs. Rattle, a neighbor who dares to wear bloomers, ride a bike, and live without a man. She invites Mable to a Readers' Club that is really a front for political action that climaxes when women in the local cheese factory strike against their appalling working conditions. The message is never strident because the funny, poignant diary entries show family and neighbors without reverence, especially the mentor-troublemaker, who refuses to know her place and teaches Mable to risk censure, even prison, rather than settle for something less than what she wants and what is right. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Historical fiction buffs, especially those interested in the women's suffrage movement, will enjoy sharing the eye-opening experiences of Jocelyn's (Earthly Astonishments; The Invisible Enemy) Canadian heroine, 14-year-old Mable Riley. Written as a series of letters and journal entries, the book chronicles Mable's first venture out into the world in 1901, when she serves as teacher's assistant for her older sister, Viola, in Perth County, Ontario. Mable's spunky, irrepressible behavior at school and with her host family, the Goodhands, will likely amuse readers. Equally entertaining is Mable's seemingly limitless imagination, displayed through the episodic story "full of romance and adventure" which she writes in installments for a friend back home. The heroine's most impressive quality, however, proves to be her sense of justice, which is tested more than once after she befriends aptly named Mrs. Rattle, whose modern ideas and unusual fashions shake up the community. When Mable supports Mrs. Rattle's efforts to end cruel labor practices at a nearby cheese company, she risks losing the respect of Viola, the Goodhands and her friends at school. The teen's attendance at an organized protest rally creates plenty of drama and also supplies a history lesson on the plight of turn-of-the-century laborers. Luckily, conflicts (including Mable's arrest) dissolve smoothly, paving the way for a romantic, happily-ever-after ending. Ages 10-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Set in Canada in 1901, this gentle tale relates the adventures of a 14-year-old who accompanies her older sister to the small town where she has been hired as a teacher. Mable discovers that very little happens in Sellerton, other than her frequent spats with her sister. Most of her days are spent assisting Viola at school and doing chores on the farm where they are boarding. Her only release is found in her journal entries or in spinning her fantasies into stories that she includes in letters to a friend back home. Wanting to have someone with whom to share her feelings and desires, Mable turns to a town outcast, an eccentric woman who leads a secret group of suffragettes. As she learns more about the injustices carried out in this small rural town, she ignores her sister's warnings and puts herself in the midst of a strike at the local cheese factory. Presented in diary format, this novel is a delightful elixir of Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Avonlea and makes a wonderful introduction to journal-style writing. Although the pace is somewhat slow, the ending is dramatic and satisfying.-Kimberly Monaghan, formerly at Vernon Area Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



After the tea but before the supper . . . Perhaps it takes only a little determination to change the course of one's life, for here on this very page I declared my yearning for novelty and already have I tripped across it! It came about in this manner: I went to the kitchen earlier, to borrow a needle from Mrs. Goodhand, as mine had jumped into a crack in the ?oor and hidden there. I heard Elizabeth's cross voice as I entered, and thought at once to leave, but was seen already and could not depart naturally. "Why must I go?" she complained. "I came only to fetch the soap for my mother. Mrs. Rattle is so peculiar! She speaks recklessly, as if to test me, and she's never grateful in the least for our donations." "We are being good neighbours," said Mrs. Goodhand, reproving her niece. "I have baked the loaves and they await delivery." "Why need it be me?" asked Elizabeth as she noticed me in the doorway. "As long as the bread is delivered, why should Mable not be the do-gooder today?" I was instantly of two minds. I had no wish to perform a task that Elizabeth found distasteful, but I could hear my mother's voice imploring me to "be always quick in doing what is right for others." "Is there an errand you would have done, Mrs. Goodhand?" I asked, ignoring Elizabeth's smirk of satisfaction. Mrs. Goodhand sighed and wiped her hands upon her apron front. "There is, Mable, though I do not approve of Elizabeth's reluctance." She explained there is a widow lady of little means, living a mile off toward the town. Mrs. Goodhand makes to her a gift of corn bread every Sunday, though the other women of the church are not so openhanded. "Because she's mad," said Elizabeth. "Perfectly loony. And she does not go to church." "Not mad, I think," said Mrs. Goodhand. "But nor is she wholesome." I felt a shiver climb my spine. "There is nothing to fear." Mrs. Goodhand saw me flinch and patted my arm. "She will not eat you. That is why you are bringing bread." She used one of her few smiles and sent me to fetch my shawl. I took the bundle and went the way I was pointed, wondering at whom I should find. I expected a withered crone crouching behind brambles, waving a hawthorn cane and muttering dreadful maledictions. Think, then, of my surprise when the door of a cottage called Silver Lining was opened by a woman only a few years older than Viola, perhaps five and twenty. She wore a most extraordinary ensemble -- her skirt coming only to her knees, with wide trousers underneath, gathered tight at the ankles. She wore slippers on her feet coloured the deepest red, as though she'd been wading in blood. She looked like the illustration of a Persian genie in a book, and not at all like a widow lady in a farm cottage in Ontario. It was her dark hair, unconfined and hanging loose about her face, that made me recollect the bicycle rider we had passed on our first night in Sellerton. This must be she! "Did you think you were arriving at an exhibit, my dear?" she asked, raising one eyebrow high. "Or have you some purpose here other than to stare?" Excerpted from Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance by Marthe Jocelyn All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.