Favourite childhood author: Kit Pearson and The Whole Truth

I have something to confess: I was a really weird, nerdy kid.

I know this may come as a shock to many of you, especially since the Julia you have come to know and love is regal, cosmopolitan, sophisticated and downright cool, but it’s true. I was a weirdo.

In fact, there is living proof in our book club. My oldest and dearest friend, Brigitte Hartt, can attest – I was one strange, obnoxious, book-wormy child. She would know because she was right there with me (equally as bookwormish, but much less weird).

Bubbles & Jewels

Bubbles & Jewels, age 12

Right through elementary school, we would spends hours upon hours reading novels, discussing what we’d read, and writing. We would write constantly, on any subject – boys we liked, our frienemies, fan fiction, news articles, or our own creative short stories.  We wrote so much that we eventually catalogued everything into spiral-bound books (which we kept, of course). We basically had an exclusive club just for the two of us – Bubbles and Jewels, as we dubbed ourselves. We were kindred spirits, I’d say.

I’m sure the reason we’ve stayed friends for 20 years is because we have so much in common. As I mentioned, one of our common interests has always been books. We were always reading and swapping novels, but out of all the authors we came across, we had a clear childhood favourite: Kit Pearson.

I can’t recall – perhaps Brigitte can – how we first encountered Pearson, now a celebrated Canadian author, but I think it was at our school library, probably around grade 4, in 1998. We fell madly in love with her novel The Sky is Falling, and then the next two novels making the Guests of War Trilogy Looking At The Moon and The Lights Go On Again.

Our appetite for her work was insatiable after that. We proceeded to read every Pearson novel we could get our hands on. To this day, Brigitte’s favourite is A Handful of Time and mine, Awake & Dreaming, won the Govenor General’s Award.

The Whole Truth In May, my dad, who has never forgotten our Kit Pearson obsession, sent me a link to a CBC article about Pearson’s latest novel having won the 2012 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award. I promptly added the novel – The Whole Truth – to my 2013 to read list and alerted Brigitte, promising her she could borrow my copy after I’d finished it.

Well, I’ve just done so, and I’m feeling like a kid again – in a great way. Pearson’s writing brought me back at least 15 years to a time when Brigitte and I would curl up in a hammock at the cottage and read for hours on end. I was brought back to the kind of characters that resonated with me as a 10-year-old girl. I’ve changed dramatically since then, but Pearson’s wonderful writing certainly has not.

The Whole Truth is a truly Canadian story, focused on family and following young Polly Brown as she moves from Winnipeg with her sister Maud to live on a small island off the coast of Vancouver in the 1930s. But the sisters hold a secret – a shocking truth – that they can never reveal. It is a simple coming-of-age story, definitely for the younger set, but endearing, interesting and full of subtle life lessons. Even as an adult, it was a pleasure to read and engaging from start to finish. I couldn’t help but think it the type of thing I hope my eventual daughter will read.

Actually, reading The Whole Truth made me realize that I cannot imagine growing up without having read Pearson’s novels. At the time, I certainly underestimated the impact they were having on my love for literature, reading and writing. And of course, Brigitte and I came together over her novels, discussing them, writing about them and re-reading them countless times.

I can’t say it was as good as Awake & Dreaming or The Daring Game, but as an adult, I’m not really in a position to judge. The intended audience is definitely young adult, and sadly… I no longer am one. But I can pride myself on turning out relatively normal, despite my weirdness as a little girl, and definitely cool – after all, I am president of an unputdownable book club.

I joke, I joke. But seriously, the point of this blog post was this: I love Kit Pearson just as much as an adult as I did as a kid, and because of that, I think this Canadian author should be on every little girl’s bookshelf. The End.

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About Julia Kent

Julia is an outgoing and energetic writer and food blogger from Halifax. Five years ago, Julia started The Unputdownable Book Club and her food blog, The Domestic Blonde. A graduate of Carleton University’s journalism program, Julia currently works in Ottawa in public relations. As a former broadcast journalist and with a background in musical theatre, she is a natural presenter. In her free time, she recipe-tests, reads, runs, hosts a podcast called Young PR Pros, watches bad television and plays competitive soccer. She’s addicted to Canadian Living and Chapters Indigo. Her favourite books include A Thousand Splendid Suns, Pride & Prejudice and The Book of Negroes. Twitter: @kentjulia
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12 Responses to Favourite childhood author: Kit Pearson and The Whole Truth

  1. Love this, Jewels! We were introduced to Kit Pearson in grade 4 (1997) when we read The Sky is Falling for school. I’m sure the class spend many weeks reading this book, assigning one chapter at a time, etc., and I’m also sure that we both finished the book within a couple of days and then had to pretend we didn’t know what was going to happen during class discussions.

    Can’t wait to read The Whole Truth!

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  2. Julia Kent says:

    Of course! I forgot! At least I got the year right. Also, you will be pleased to know that I just discovered a sequel to The Whole Truth – http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/titleandauthor/9781554688548-item.html?s_campaign=aff-001-2980581-HarperCollins+Publishers+LLC-ProductCatalog-10408997-3922594

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  3. Erin Chezick says:

    As I believe Julia and I have discussed before – I also loved KP when I was in my elementary school years. I’ll have to pick up her new novels at some point. I mean, if I will read the newest series of Sweet Valley books, I clearly have a love of nostalgia.

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  4. carlyloves says:

    Nice review! Awake and Dreaming was one of my childhood faves, too. It was funny to see the name Kit Pearson pop up here because I just couldn’t place it! 🙂

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  9. Vanessa says:

    I read the “Guests of War” to my students every year or every other year, depending if I have split grade or not. It wasn’t until recently after receiving emails from former students or having conversations with them as twenty-somethings, that I realized how much these books were appreciated by them. I love the books and continue using them in my classroom. I always dreamed that Kevin Sullivan (Road to Avonlea) would make it into a series. My class even sent a letter to him asking if he would consider making it mini-series. We never did get a response….oh well. Kit Pearson is a wonderful Canadian author.

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    • Julia Kent says:

      Vanessa, Kit Pearson and the Guests of War Trilogy had a profound impact on my upbringing! I’m so glad to hear it’s still read in schools! Your students are lucky to have such a great teacher!

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