The Tramp Room – PATTERSON (CSS)

PATTERSON, Nancy-Lou. The Tramp Room. Waterloo, ON: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 1999. 149p. Resenha de: INNIS, Ken Mac. Canadian Social Studies, v.35, n.1, 2000.

Patterson’s fictional historical novel, The Tramp Room, deals with the daily life of Mennonites in the Kitchener area of Ontario, circa 1850. The strength of the book lies in her informative descriptions of daily life of the times, such as making sausages and linen. Another strength, and a real example for our society today, is how Patterson explains that everything was effectively utilized. The section entitled the “Spinning Room” is a good example of how every scrap of material was used for either patching clothes or in making quilts. The author certainly knows her history and is able to recreate an effective feel for life at the time. I was particularly taken with her ability to show how much time it took to produce everything from cloth to candles. The novel provides an excellent view into the daily life of pioneer women.
The Tramp Room would be most valuable to elementary students and teachers from grades 3 to 6. I would use it by reading selected chapters to reinforce a social studies concept about the past. It could also be useful as a resource to direct students to during project work. I would not, however, read the whole book to the class as I found it difficult to get in to the story. As well, the premise of the girl falling asleep and waking up in Joseph Schneider Haus in the 19th Century is one that is overdone and does not work well in this novel. The best parts of the story are those in which Patterson describes the daily and seasonal routines of life on the farm.
I found it refreshing to read a novel that emphasized kindness (the Mennonites’ willingness to take in the tramp boy) and the harmony of working together as a family with the environment. The Tramp Room would be a good addition to any elementary school library.

Ken Mac Innis – Sir Charles Tupper School. Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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