Uncle Ronald

by Brian Doyle

In 1895, Mickey's mother sends him by train from Ottawa to the small town of Low,... read more

In 1895, Mickey's mother sends him by train from Ottawa to the small town of Low, Quebec, to escape the abuse of his violent father. In Low, Mickey is welcomed into the home of his mother's brother Uncle Ronald, a gentle bear of a man, and her adult cousins the O'Malley sisters, identical twins who love a little mischief in the name of a good cause. That good cause presents itself in the form of government tax collectors, who have come to Low to insist on payment from the entire town's delinquent population. A delicious staging of comedy results when Uncle Ronald, the O'Malley sisters and other town characters exhaust the government's patience--and resources--with their colorful pranks and ingenious diversions. In the midst of humor that is both subtle and broad, Brian Doyle never loses sight of Mickey's personal story. The arrival in Low of Mickey's smart, courageous mother, badly beaten by his father's hand, and later the arrival of the father himself, intent on reclaiming his family, are masterfully integrated into the narrative. Told in flashback from the point of view from the now 112-year-old Mickey, Doyle skillfully weaves a 12-year-old boy's fear, and the real danger he and his mother face, into a story that is a sheer pleasure to read. (Ages 10-13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1997

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