Sheree Fitch is one of Canada’s leading children’s poets. From her classic book of nonsense verse, Toes in My Nose, to recent more contemplative efforts like No Two Snowflakes, she has delighted a generation of young readers with her amazing ability to riff off words. So it is only fitting that the heroine of Fitch’s first children’s novel should be a girl with a similar gift for wordplay. Twelve-year-old Cinnamon Elizabeth Hotchkiss (Minn for short) suffers from an “O.I.,” or in plain speech, an overactive imagination. Ever since the death of her unborn sister, she has heard crying and gurgling sounds in the night. If this isn’t spooky enough, her once-cheerful mother seems to be living “in some kind of glue bottle”: she sleeps all day and barely registers Minn’s existence. As a result, her parents decide she should spend the summer with her grandmother in the tiny east-coast community of Boulder Basin. This would be fine if Minn’s grandmother (“Nana Vinegar”) wasn’t a stubborn old “witch,” complete with chin hairs, a fiery temper, and a locked closet full of old bones.
While the outcome of The Gravesavers is fairly predictable (it’s clear that grandmother and granddaughter are going to get along and that Minn’s mother will recover from her depression), there are enough plot twists and comic interludes to keep 10- to 14-year-olds richly entertained. Fitch’s use of the wreck of the S.S. Atlantic–the biggest sea disaster before Titanic–as a historical subtext is artfully handled, elevating this thoughtfully conceived and well-written tale of loss into the realm of supernatural romances such as Janet Lunn’s The Root Cellar. As Minn observes, “I don’t believe in the kind of ghosts that can jump out of a mirror and chase you out of a house or anything. But spirits? That’s a whole other story.” –Lisa Alward
“The Gravesavers is a humorous and heartfelt look into a devastating time in a young girl’s life. Sheree Fitch has truly captured the angst and curiosity inherent in the nature of any young person, and she has thrown in a Titanic-like story for added excitement….It is a pleasure to read a book with a real story with real people that I feel comfortable letting my children read.”
–The Edmonton Journal
“Although Sheree Fitch is a prolific and prizewinning author of children’s books, Gravesavers is her first novel. On the strength of this debut, it’s fair to say that she’s found another medium in which she excels….[A] thoroughly satisfying experience for readers.”
—The Globe and Mail