Theo has a difficult life. She and her young mother, Rae, live in
poverty in Vancouver; sometimes they are so broke that they have to
beg on the streets. Rae is not a good mother and sometimes she even
hits Theo. Theo, however, has two escapes: books and her imagination.
She's always reading stories about magic and she pretends that she
belongs to a perfect family with four children. When Rae decides to
live with her boyfriend, who doesn't want Theo, she takes Theo to
Victoria on the ferry to live with Rae's sister. On the way Theo meets
a family exactly like the one she has made up. She wishes on the new
moon that she could belong to them forever and the next thing she
knows, she does! It seems like magic, until the terrible day that
the magic starts to fade.
I often get ideas for books when I'm travelling, because
I'm so snoopy! I stare at people and imagine what their lives are
like and I even listen to their conversations. One day I was on the
ferry from Vancouver to Victoria when I saw a mother and daughter.
They were surrounded by luggage and they were having an argument about
how the girl never listened to her mother. Then the girl, who looked
about nine, stopped talking and stared sadly out the window. She had
such a yearning look on her face, as if she were wishing for something.
I decided that she was wishing for a perfect family.
this novel has a ghost in it, I'm often asked if I believe in ghosts.
All I can say is that I don't not believe in them. Once I was
staying in what was supposed to be a haunted hostel in Scotland. My
blanket came off during the night and I felt someone pick it up and
cover me with it. Maybe it was the resident ghost!
books when I was young were the "Swallows and Amazons" titles by Arthur
Ransome. In those books he made the setting in the English Lake District
so vivid that one can find, as I once did, most of the places in real
life. I wanted to do the same thing in this novel. It takes place
in the Ross Bay Cemetery and other locations in Victoria, and you
can find them all if you're diligent. Every year I do an "Awake and
Dreaming" tour of the cemetery, where I read from the book and a guide
tells the real stories of the gravestones. (See the News
page for information.)
Covers around the world:
Red Cedar Award
Manitoba Young Readers'
CBC "Young Canada Reads"