Children's Literature Review - The Secret of Sentinel Rock
Reviewed by: E. Jane Philipps
This intriguing and moving time-travel adventure centres on kinship of spirit between individuals, across generations, and with the land. As family and friends gather in the farmhouse of 96-year-old Grandmother Renfrew following her funeral, 12-year-old Emily, feeling an enormous emptiness, succumbs to her longing to wander the prairie paths she and her grandmother had explored together every summer. Stopping to rest at a familiar outcrop of rock (her grandmother's favorite place), Emily meets the strangely dressed Emma and suddenly finds herself transported to another time. The cleverly conceived plot alternates between 1899, when Emma and her family arrived from Scotland to establish their homestead, and 1996, when Emily's mother and aunt put their mother's house in order and prepare to sell the family farm. With the rock as guidepost and portal, Emily travels back and forth, developing a deep friendship with Emma, learning about the hardships and perseverance of her forebears, and coming to terms with the loss of her grandmother.
Although her dialogue occasionally rings false, Silverthorne's prose evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of the prairies. She successfully incorporates historical elements, conveying a sense of the fascinating mysteries that can surround research into the past. The believable and appealing characters draw the reader into their lives and times in a work that is well-written, informative, and emotionally satisfying. Highly recommended.