After her father dies, Abby and her family move west to live with relatives who run a hotel in the mining town of Frank, Alberta. Abby keeps busy helping out at the hotel, being chief caregiver to her little brother with Down Syndrome, and learning Morse code at the telegraph office.
When the devastating Frank Slide buries much of the town, Abby must do all she can to help. But a long-buried family secret emerged just before the disaster — and now she will have to wait for the dust to settle before getting the answers she so desperately wants.
Inspired by two of her own relatives, one who helped run a telegraph office in the late 1800s and another who shares Abby's story (and her family secret), Jean Little crafts a compelling story rich with emotion and historical detail.
Jean Little is a Canadian author, born in Taiwan. Her work has mainly consisted of children's literature, but she has also written two autobiographies: Little by Little and Stars Come Out Within. Little has been partially blind since birth as a result of scars on her cornea and is frequently accompanied by a guide dog.
I always or at least generally do much enjoy the Dear Canada series, and this comparatively recent instalment (from 2014) about Alberta's infamous Frank Slide is once again engaging (and enlightening) with a both lovable and astutely observant narrator, or rather diarist (yes, Jean Little really does have a talent for giving authentic, believable voices to her characters, and I also appreciate the fact that she always and with balance presents not only doom and gloom, that she shows both joy and sorrow, as simply dwelling on the negative, the horrid, could so easily happen with a story such as this, with this kind of thematics and plotline).
Now I do have to admit that when I first started reading All Fall Down: The Landslide Diary of Abby Roberts, I originally did think that Abby's back story seemed a bit overly sensationalist and almost unbelievable, but it actually seems to be based on a historic and therefore truthful scenario from Jean Little's own family. One of her ancestors arrived in Canada as a young orphan, a toddler, whose entire family had perished during an outbreak of shipboard cholera en route, and as there was no one to claim her, she was brought home from the ship by a kindhearted stranger and adopted by his family, never recalling her original name or anything about her birth family (and considering that disease and generally horrible, unhygienic conditions were prevalent and common on emigrant ships, this likely happened far more often than one would care to consider). With detailed historical background information at the back (which is part and parcel to the entire Dear Canada series and always very much appreciated) and an equally informative and poignant author's note (and indeed, I especially appreciate Jean Little explaining bow it came to pass that she chose to include a character with Down Syndrome, that it occurred because a reader, a fan, had suggested this to her), All Fall Down: The Landslide Diary of Abby Roberts is highly recommended, evocatively informative and sweetly recounted, with pathos, with very much love and tenderness of feeling.
I liked it. I've been rediscovering my love for Dear Canada the last little while and this very much gives me cause to continue that revisit. I spoiled the "twist" by reading the ending which was disappointing but I feel like I would have figured it out without the spoil because not all of the hints were subtle. I also agree with other reviewers who say that they wish it focused more on the landslide. When reading the back was quite surprised to find that I had so much book to read before then. I would have liked it more if it happened within the first thirty pages and then dealt with the aftermath but nonetheless I did enjoy it and recommend others to read it.
I read this entire book in 2 hours because I wanted to know the family secret. By the time I got that far,I shrugged and thought I might as well finish it. I liked Abby and Davy and found her sister and especially her brother to be very cruel, though her sister at least started redeeming herself after they'd had chicken pox. I think her brother started drinking because of the way their father treated them and wouldn't be surprised to find the father was physically abusive as well, even if that would only be by today's thinking. But it was a very good story.
In this latest book that is a part of the Dear Canada series, All Fall Down is about a young girl named Abby, who moves with her family to Frank, Alberta, after an incident involving her father. During the family's travels, as well as after their move, Abby learns more about who she is, as well as who her family is. Even through rough times, including during the landslide, Abby is bought closer to her family and friends at Frank, all while recording such events in her diary.
This is Jean Little's fifth book in the Dear Canada series and an emotional tale probably best aimed at the older end of the recommended 8-12 age group. However, I found it somewhat different than the other books I've read in this series. The book isn't really about the Frank Slide; instead it is a story of a family with its own plot set against the historical setting where the Frank slide tragedy comes as the climax. The story deals with some excellent emotional topics. Starting with the death of the father, the family that no longer has a "head of the household" moves across the country to live with relatives. The father was a brutish man, not physically, but no one greatly misses him and other topics deeply running through the book include adoption, downs syndrome and a young girl running off with a philanderer. All of this is set against the background of a 1900s Alberta coal mining town and details the mindset of that time period. A lovely story.
Well written and researched as all Jean Little's books are. This one tells the story of Abby who, along with her mother and siblings, move to Frank, Alberta when her father is killed. Abby's story is interesting, as she is responsible for her younger brother who has Down's Syndrome, and eventually discovers she was adopted as a small child. The disappointing part of the book is that the event it is supposedly about - the Frank Landslide of 1903 - plays a very minor role in the book. It doesn't even occur until page 144! I would have liked to read more about that and less about Abby and her brother.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I was able to figure out the big secret early on, but others I’ve spoken to said it came as a surprise to them. One thing that bothered me was how the diary was full of premonitions about Turtle Mountain. The author’s note had a bit of unnecessary commentary in it and I found the section on Down Syndrome a little awkward. There are other things I would say about the book, but will omit so as to not give anything away.
This latest Dear Canada diary focuses not only on the historic Frank Slide in 1902 Alberta, but touches on the life of a young girl who is devoted to the care of her young brother with Down’s Syndrome. She struggles with secrets surrounding her family, prejudice, and guilt over her feeling about her father who dies leaving them with nothing. This dramatic story will appeal to girls ages eight to 12, who like real-life fiction
I'm happy to finally see Alberta represented in the Dear Canada lineup, and in general I thought this book was well enough written to introduce children to the events surrounding the Frank Slide (which is, after all, what it's mostly meant for). However, the adoption subplot (actually, it was almost the main plot) was so painfully obvious that I was constantly rolling my eyes at Abby for not figuring it out sooner. So many blatant hints are dropped that I'd caught on by about the third page.
I read this book primarily because we are planing on visiting Frank, Alberta this summer. It was an insightful look into this terrible natural disaster within the cultural context of 1903. I enjoyed the way Jean Little also addressed some other issues of the day, like a little brother with Downs Syndrome, and how that was perceived and dealt with in those days. Also, a really interesting twist in the story involving Abby Roberts herself. All in all a great read for Grade 3-5 student.
My Favourite part was when Abby's brother survived. The worst part was when the avalanche happened. My favourite character was Abby because she refused to go to her friend's party because Bird said that her grandfather said the mountain would walk soon. There was no worst character. Auryn 12 years old, 2015
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Jean Little is one of my favourite authors and she did not disappoint with "All Fall Down". I really enjoyed reading this book and am quite happy about Little's decision on inclusivity (see 'About the Author'). Definitely recommend giving this a read, especially if you're interested in Canada's history.
I really liked the story in this book and it was interesting learning about the Frank landslide. I do wish there'd been more of a focus on the landslide itself though, it kind of comes as an afterthought. It would have been interesting to see more of the aftermath.
I've never read a Dear Canada title before, and I guess I've been unthinkingly pairing them with some of the really junky multiple-authors series out there, because I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and how much I learned from it, and I will definitely be reading more!
This books starts just as Abby's father dies in a workplace accident. Abby's mother is then informed that her husband was in debt. After sending word to her brother asking if she and her 4 children could come stay with his family, who runs a successful hotel in Frank, Alberta, Abby's mother begins selling off the majority of their possessions and, eventually, their house in Quebec in order to cover all the debts and the cost of tickets for the family to go to Frank.
Abby is the odd child out, though in the beginning she has no idea as to why. She has an older Brother and sister as well as a younger brother with special needs. She is charged with looking after her younger brother since birth, he was born feet first and blue. He has a heart defect and I think Down's Syndrome just to add to the complications of being oxygen deprived at birth. At least that what it presents as to me and my limited knowledge. Anyhow, Abby's mother refused and continues to refuse everyone's urging to place him in a home for the disabled. Between her and Abby (who seems to be the primary caregiver) Davie is well looked after.
After many days aboard the train, they arrive and meet their Uncle, Aunt and older cousin Mark. They are all completely welcomed into the family and work along side their relatives cooking, cleaning and generally running the hotel.
this goes on for sometime with Abby learning her true family history and why her older brother and sister act to oddly towards her. When the Frank Slide buries a large section on the town, Abby and her family are mostly spared and you get a fragmented, yet fairly detailed description of what happened, what the family did to help their neighbors, the evacuation and return to Frank. In the Epilogue you learn the shocking truth of how mining of the mountain resumed and stayed operating for another two years before the operation near the town was closed down.
So what did I think?
I liked it. This Dear Canada had another element running through its under tone, the mystery of Abby. You usually don't get another line of interest in Dear Canada books other then what the book is written to portray, so it was refreshing. You also don't see too many books where the father figure is not well regarded by the young narrator.
It definitely has educational value, but the well written story doesn't just portray a historical event. It has a bit of intrigue and mystery in it. Definitely a step up from the usual Dear Canada books.
3 stars & 3/10 hearts. I think Davy’s and Abby’s relationship draws me most to this book. I have a little sister who is handicapped and I am very protective of her too, and I identified with Abby well because of that. There is a mention of a young man kissing servant girls; a euphemism or two; and when the landslide happens Abby (who is in shock) gets dressed in the crowded hotel hall. It was also kind of complicated with a harsh father and some nasty attitudes, but I liked John and Olivia after a while, when they became nicer. And Mark was really sweet. In short, this isn’t my favourite Dear Canada book, but it’s pretty good, and my sister really likes it—so my indifference to it might be merely personal inclinations.
A Favourite Humorous Quote: “Today was April Fool’s Day. I tricked Mother. I told her what was left of the snow had all melted away in the night. “She went to the window and pulled the curtain back. “‘[Y]ou’re right, Abby,’ she said. “I ran to look and as I came up behind her, she swung around and said, ‘April Fool yourself, Miss.’” “You can’t tell your mother not to be a smart aleck, but I was tempted.”
The Dear Canada series is aimed at elementary aged children and explores Canadian history in a journal-style format. I love these books and read every single one that my library had, when I was a kid. Dear Canada: All Fall Down: The Landslide Diary of Abby Roberts is set around the historical landslide at Frank, Alberta in 1903. One of the reasons that I love Dear Canada books is because they give the child’s perspective. There is more emotion and wonder at the historical events, than adult facts about what happened. Abby, the protagonist of All Fall Down, is right in the middle of the action when the landslide happens. She has to find everyone she knows, while helping people and taking care of her little brother. I highly recommend the Dear Canada series in its entirety. All Fall Down is set close to Lethbridge (and even mentions Lethbridge a couple of times in the book), which makes it uniquely special.
Another very good DC book. I appreciated the empathetic portrayal of disabilities and the way the main character treats her Indigenous friend (a lot better than some people would at the time, I think, which is nice!) I learned quite a bit about the landslide, which I appreciated. I also think that there's some heavy-handed hinting about a dark family secret, which was a little annoying, but then I remembered the intended audience and felt better about it.
There are books where you just. Know. I don't know how to describe this very well but sometimes the show not tell is powerful even in a book that's meant to literally be the journal of a twelve year old - anyway I really liked this
def the darkest dear canada i’ve read deals with a gruesome family death, ableism against the narrators disabled brother, and more family drama the narrator is not as relatable in voice as the other books i’ve read, interested to see if Little’s other dear canada books are as serious/mature
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.