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Fiction Ages 9-12
Pages: 232
Themes: Spanish flu epidemic, 1900s North America, class system
Publisher: Second Story Press
Pub Date: 01/Apr/2012
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It is the end of the First World War, and thirteen-year-old Meredith yearns to become a teacher. But she must leave school to help support her family, moving to the city to work as a maid in a wealthy doctor's home. As the deadly Spanish Flu sweeps across the city, members of the household fall ill one by one. With the doctor working night and day at the hospital, only Meredith and the doctor's children, Maggie and Jack, are left to care for them. Every day the newspapers’ lists of “Yesterday’s Dead” add to Meredith’s growing fears. When Jack becomes gravely ill, Meredith must stop fighting with Maggie so they can work together to save him. As Meredith wrestles with questions of duty and responsibility, she opens the door to a future that she thought had been closed forever.

Quill & Quire
"The story's pacing is pitch-perfect, and Bourke advances the plot at just the right clip. She uses dialogue to great advantage, both as a tool for defining her characters and for introducing different opinions on the epidemic...A well-written story with an engaging protagonist. Both witness and survivor, Meredith pulls readers through the crisis and touches the lives of everyone around her. Bourke does a great job of calling attention to a brief but important moment in history."
CM Magazine
"Bourke quietly conveys the impact of the Great War and the Spanish flu on our then fledgling country of just over 8 million people. Many of our ancestors were scarred by these tragedies. Yet the historical elements never overwhelm the human story of Meredith and her friends. Realistic dialogue, skilled pacing and evocative detail bring them to life and make the reader sorry when the novel ends. Yesterday's Dead truly deserves praise and prizes. Highly Recommended."
Kirkus Reviews
"Meredith's very human fluctuations between despair and determination in the face of tragedy add considerably to the authenticity of her character. A gripping depiction of a tragic epidemic and the sometimes heroic responses of those affected."
Susie Bookworm blog
"A quick, highly informative historical read, perfect for its intended audience and for others of us as well."
School Library Journal
"The main characters are finely drawn, especially Meredith...The story vividly depicts the family's fear and the victims' suffering."
"The story is well-crafted, leaves readers wanting to know more about this awful disease, and has readers empathizing for the plight of, and ultimately the extraordinary leadership skills of, Meredith...This is a good readalike for those interested in Lois Lowry's Like the Willow Tree: The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce, Portland, Maine, 1918."
Resource Links
"This well-written and perfectly paced novel will keep readers thoroughly engaged as they feel as if they are right there along with Meredith."
Silver's Reviews
Enjoy the book....I certainly did and benefited from the history lesson. I definitely enjoyed the interaction among the characters. This would make a great discussion in a classroom in terms of how today's youth would feel about the way the characters reacted to each other and how illnesses are treated differently today.
Booklist Online
A survival story located not on a snowy mountain but in a lavish house
It's refreshing to read a novel with a Canadian perspective on such a major historical event. A great debut novel for author Pat Bourke.
Canadian Children's Book News
Pat Bourke has crafted a fantastically detailed novel that would satisfy any young reader’s desire to find out about the past.
CanLit for Little Canadians Blog
This book was an amazing read, and I knew right after our librarian, Ms. Kubiw, had explained it to us, that it would be the first one I read and probably the one I would most enjoy. Thank you so much for writing this awesome book, and I sincerely hope there will be a series or more books to come like this. Sincerely, Grace D. Age 12


Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People "A gripping account of the Spanish Influenza pandemic and how it swept through Toronto in 1918, leaving a swathe of death and loss in its wake… This book captures a sense of the chaos and panic that this episode in history created, and realistically recreates the conditions of daily life for both Meredith and Maggie… Meredith is a very likable character and believable as a young girl with a sense of duty." | 2013 | Short-listed
Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award  | 2014 | Short-listed
IODE Violet Downey Book Award  | 2013 | Short-listed
Ontario Library Association Silver Birch Award  | 2014 | Short-listed
Snow Willow Award Finalist (Saskatchewan's Young Readers Choice Awards)  | 2014 | Short-listed
Canadian Children's Book Centre's "Best Books for Kids and Teens" - Fall 2012  | 2012 | Commended

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