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March 25 , 2011

Counting on Hope


Hope and her family travel from England to their new home on an island off the coast of British Columbia in the 1860s. Hope thinks that she has arrived in paradise. She is right … until whiskey traders arrive.

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Murphy's mother has just moved him and their cat, Mousetrap, back to the reserve in Port Alberni. Although he belongs to the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation, Murphy is sure that he won't fit in, and he worries about Mousetrap, who has always been an indoor cat. When a bunch of local boys drag him to their soccer practice, put him in goal and pelt him with…

Letia and her family are Lamalcha people who winter on Kuper Island and move to Wallace Island in the summer. The problem is that Letia's summer camp is on the island that the Crown has deeded to Hope's family. When the two girls meet, against the wishes of their mothers, their stories intersect.

Set against the backdrop of the confusing events surrounding the English colonization of British Columbia, and an 1863 naval assault on Kuper Island, Counting on Hope tells the story of two girls whose lives are profoundly changed when their two cultures collide.

Alternating between free verse and prose, Sylvia Olsen follows the girl's individual storylines before, during and after their meeting. She captures the wonder and joy with which Hope and Letia develop their friendship. She also describes the tragic events, suspicion, fear and confusion that characterize so many early encounters between Europeans and the First Peoples. Ultimately a story of hope, this sensitively drawn depiction of innocence lost and wisdom hard won follows Hope and Letia out of childhood, off their island paradise and into the complex realities of an adult world.

Awards and Nominations

City of Victoria Bolen Children's Literature Prize (Winner) - 2010
Chocolate Lily Award (Nominee) - 2010
Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize (Nominee) - 2010

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