I'll Be Watching
Written by Pamela Porter
Publication Date July 06, 2011
Shortlisted for the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize
In a small prairie town like Argue, Saskatchewan, everyone knows everybody else’s business. Everyone knows that the Loney family has been barely hanging on -- the father, George, reduced to drink and despair since the loss of his farm and the death of his wife, Margaret. That the four Loney children do not get along with George’s second wife, the pious, bitter Effie. Then George dies in a drunken stupor -- locked out, it seems, by Effie to freeze to death on his own doorstep. Effie takes off with a traveling Bible salesman, and it looks as though the children are done for. Who’s to save them when everyone is coping with their own problems -- the lingering depression and the loss of the town’s young men to the Second World War.
Yet somehow the children find a way, under the watchful eye of their ghostly parents and through the small kindnesses of a few neighbors, but mostly by dint of their own determination and ingenuity.
This is an extremely powerful novel about children at risk because of adult hypocrisy, indifference, self-interest and outright immorality, all cloaked in a self-righteous exterior. In the end they redeem their own lives by drawing good people to them and by rising to the occasion themselves. And when they at last are able to leave Argue, they do so together, as a family looking ahead to a future of promise and hope.
Pamela Porter was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and she lived in New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Washington and Montana before emigrating to Canada with her husband, the fourth generation of a farm family in southeastern Saskatchewan, the backdrop for much of Pamela's work. She is the author of three collections of poetry, and her poems have appeared in numerous journals across Canada and the US as well as being featured on Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac. She is also the author of a number of children’s books, including Sky and Yellow Moon, Apple Moon (illustrated by Matt James). Pamela's first novel in verse, The Crazy Man, received the TD Children's Literature Award, the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award for Children, the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People and the Governor General's Award, as well as several children's choice awards. It was also named a Jane Addams Foundation Honor Book and won the Texas Institute of Letters, Friends of the Austin Public Library Award for Best Young Adult Book. Pamela lives near Sidney, B.C., with her husband, children and a menagerie of rescued horses, dogs and cats.
"...it feels true...when the Loney children make their way out of the prairie town...their measure of hope is well earned and welcome." Horn Book Magazine
"Strongly felt..." Kirkus Reviews
"Porter's free-form poetry is beautifully spare." VOYA
"...compelling..." School Library Journal
"Rich in character, plot and setting detail, I'll Be Watching definitely merits more than one reading." CM Magazine
"...a compelling tale of faith and courage in the face of suffering and evil...The writing is excellent, with characters and lessons that are likely to stay with the reader long after the last page has been turned." Rutgers
"...riveting...a huge accomplishment." The Globe and Mail
"Full of rich, believable characters, this emotionally taut story offers no simple solutions, only a window of hope." Booklist
"What a powerful and memorable free verse novel this is!" Sal's Fiction Addiction
"Girls who like stories about families, and who are strong readers would probably enjoy this book." Next Best Book
"True to its genre, the novel awards happy endings all around, but the Loneys' journey from abandonment and crushing poverty into a promising future is fairly won." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Complex, nuanced and as substantial as any adult novel...Highly recommended." The Toronto Star
"... the story and images flow vividly and easily off the page." Toronto Public Library