Author Tags: Kidlit & Young Adult

Young James, a fourteen-year-old, boards the last lifeboat in Julie Burtinshaw’s Dead Reckoning (Raincoast 2001 $9.95), a fictionalized account of the 1906 grounding of the steamship Valencia off Pachena Pt., Vancouver Island, in a treacherous area known as ‘The Graveyard of the Pacific.’ Of the 164 passengers and crew, only 38 survived. Dead Reckoning is the term for establishing a ship's position by log or compass when observation is impossible.

Adrift (Raincoast, 2003), Julie Burtinshaw's second novel for young readers, is the story of a brother and sister living in an unhappy Toronto household. When their mother is diagnosed with clinical depression, Jack and Laura are sent to their Aunt's home in Desolation Sound, B.C. Based on accounts about love and other powerful emotions 'beyond the grave', Burtinshaw also published Romantic Ghost Stories (Ghost House Books, 2003), a collection that explores lovers united in death, the lasting effects of a lost love among the living and, most dramatically, "the tempestuous infidelities whose painful consequences never fade away."

In 2007, Julie Burtinshaw was selected to serve as writer-in-residence at the Pierre Berton Writer's Retreat in Dawson City for April, May and June. The writer is housed free of charge in the boyhood home of author Pierre Berton in Dawson City, Yukon. This program was initiated by Pierre Berton and is organized by the Yukon Arts Council in Whitehorse and the Klondike Visitor's Association and the Dawson City Libraries' Association in Dawson City.

Her next book was The Perfect Cut (Raincoast Books, 2008). According to publicity material: "After the death of his tough, guitar-playing, much-loved sister, Michelle, Brian finds it increasingly difficult to care about anything. He doesn't care about his parents. He doesn't care about his friends. He doesn't care about school. He just doesn't care anymore. The only time Brian comes alive is in the few seconds it takes for the razor to slice through his skin. But he never cuts deep enough to cause any real damage. At least, not yet... Told from the perspective of the grief-stricken Brian who, in his mind, has run out of options for coping, it's clear that while he makes some bad choices, he's not a bad person. The book ends on a grace note, reassuring young readers that even terrible obstacles can be overcome, and that where there's life, there is hope."

CITY/TOWN: Vancouver

DATE OF BIRTH: May 26, 1960



The Darkness Between the Stars, Young Adult Fiction, McKellar Martin Publishing, Vancouver, BC, 2011

The Perfect Cut, Young Adult Fiction, Raincoast Books, Vancouver, BC, Spring 2008

The Freedom of Jenny, Young Adult Historical Fiction Raincoast Books, Vancouver, BC, 2005

Romantic Ghost Stories, Adult Short Stories, Lone Pine Publishing, Edmonton, Alberta, 2004

Adrift, Young Adult Fiction, Raincoast Books, Vancouver, BC, 2002

Dead Reckoning, Young Adult Historical Fiction, Raincoast Books, Vancouver, BC, 2000

[BCBW 2012] "Kidlit"

Adrift (Raincoast $12.95)

Fourteen-year-old David Garrett and his little sister are Adrift (Raincoast $12.95) after their mother is institutionalized for clinical depression and they’re sent from Toronto to live with an aunt in Desolation Sound. A bluff to return home turns dangerous when a stormy sea and a cliff accident trap David and Laura. A rescue by their “crazy family” is their only hope. “I want children to know [depression] is not unique to their families alone,” says author Julie Burtinshaw. “Millions of Canadian families face this illness.” 1-55192-469-2 [Louise Donnelly / BCBW 2003]

The Freedom of Jenny (Raincoast $12.95)

The Freedom of Jenny, based on the true story of the immigration of black settlers to western Canada, follows young Jenny Estes as her family, their freedom paid for by the father’s wages from a grueling cattle drive, make their way to California. But the Dred Scott Decision of 1857 when the US Supreme Court ruled people of African origin—free or enslaved—could never be citizens made California no safer than the Missouri they’d escaped. So when James Douglas, fearful his fledgling colony of New Caledonia was vulnerable to southern aggression, offers protection and equality under the British flag, Jenny’s family and dozens of other black families push on once again. In her research author Julie Burtinshaw, inspired by the life story of Sylvia Stark, who settled on Salt Spring Island in 1860, discovered fully one-third of the cowboys who tamed the American West were black, as were many in the sixty-man staff of BC’s first police force. 1-55192-839-6

--review by Louise Donnelly, who writes from Vernon.

[BCBW 2006] "Kidlit"