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Ann & Seamus

by Kevin Major
illustrated by David Blackwood

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love & romance
list price: $16.95
published: 2003
Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
p to 17
Reading age:
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  • Short-listed, Stellar Book Award (Teen Reader's Choice Award of BC)
  • Short-listed, Atlantic Bookseller's Choice Award
  • Short-listed, IODE Violet Downey Book Award
  • Short-listed, Ann Connor Brimer Award
  • Short-listed, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award
  • Long-listed, ReLit Awards - Fiction
  • Commended, White Ravens
  • Runner-up, Mr. Christie's Book Award
  • Commended, CCBC Our Choice (starred selection)
  • Short-listed, Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People
  • Short-listed, Writer's Alliance of Newfoundland Heritage and History Book Award
  • Short-listed, Governor General's Literary Awards: Text
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Seventeen-year-old Ann Harvey is one of the great unsung heroes of maritime history. In 1828, off the Newfoundland fishing village of Isle aux Morts, Ann Harvey, her father and younger brother, came upon the wreck of the Despatch, an Irish immigrant ship originally destined for Quebec City. In thick fog and fierce wind it had run aground. Ann's courage and strength at the oars of the rescue boat were largely responsible for saving more than 160 dirt-poor passengers stranded amid the raging storm, left "like seabirds clinging to the rocks." Ann's courageous feat along the isolated south coast of Newfoundland has been all but forgotten.

Ann and Seamus brings the remarkable story of Ann Harvey to today's readers. In a poetic and powerful retelling, Kevin Major portrays the shy young woman thrust into extraordinary circumstances. It is the story of dramatic rescue, but it is also the story of dreams and fate, of a hard life and young love. For also at its center is Seamus, a young Irishman who had set sail with hopes of a new life in America. Ann and Seamus is historical fiction that sweeps across ages and nationalities. In rich yet accessible narrative verse, it draws the reader into the drama of sea rescue without losing the tender and impetuous voices of youth at the core of the story.

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Contributor notes

Kevin Major is one of the best Canadian writers of his generation, and in 1992 he won the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work. He has written sixteen novels for young people and adults, several of which have been translated into other languages. His books include Hold Fast (Hans Christian Andersen Honor List, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Canadian Library Association Award and the Ruth Schwartz Award), Far from Shore (winner of the Canadian Young Adult Book Award), and The House of Wooden Santas (Mr. Christie's Book Award and the Ann Connor Brimer Award). Most recently, Ann and Seamus was shortlisted for eight book awards, including the Governor General's Award, and has been adapted into an opera. Kevin has recently been awarded an honorary degree by Memorial University, and he lives in St. John's, Newfoundland.David Blackwood has received many national and international awards, including the Order of Canada. His etchings, paintings and monotypes appear in numerous private and public collections, including those of the National Gallery of Canada, the National Gallery of Australia the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Gellery of Ontario, the Uffizi in Florence, the Chase Manhattan Bank and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. David Blackwood lives with his wife, Anita, in Port Hope, Ontario. He still maintains a studio in Wesleyville, Newfoundland.

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Editorial Reviews

This is an adventure, coming-of-age, and love story, all set within vividly evoked Newfoundland history and presented through stunningly immediate poetry.


The surge of the language, and the intensity and elemental simplicity of the action and characters, make this a book that lives on in the imagination, a book to read aloud, a book to press on friend both teenage and adult.

— Quill & Quire, STARRED REVIEW

David Blackwood's ghostly blue-and-grey prints float through this long, haunting poem...

— Globe and Mail
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Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.

About the Authors

Kevin Major

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David Blackwood

David Blackwood is one of Canada's most respected visual storytellers. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally with over 90 solo shows and scores of group exhibitions. He has been the subject of two major retrospective exhibitions and the National Film Board's Academy-Award nominated documentary film Blackwood. His work may be found in virtually every major public gallery and corporate art collection in Canada, as well as in major private and public collections around the world.
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