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Young Adult Fiction Canada

The Accidental Orphan

by (author) Constance Horne

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Mar 1998
Canada, Orphans & Foster Homes, Adoption
Recommended Age
12 to 15
Recommended Grade
7 to 10
Recommended Reading age
12 to 15
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 1998
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 1998
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Short-listed for the 1999 Silver Birch Award
Eleven-year-old Ellen finds herself wrongly accused of stealing while selling flowers on the Liverpool docks. In her escape she becomes a stowaway aboard a steamship bound for Canada, an unwilling member of a band of orphans headed for new families on the Prairies. Adopted by the Aitkens, a family on a Manitoba homestead, she soon lands herself at the centre of a number of calamities, unexpectedly learning about rural life in the New World and the value of family ties, both those forged in blood and those forged in trust.

About the author

Constance Horne is the author of Emily Carr’s Woo (Oolichan), nominated for the Sheila Egoff Award at the BC Book Prizes, Trapped by Coal (Pacific Educational), The Jo Boy Deserts and Other Stories (Pacific Educational) and Nykola and Granny (Gage). She is also a contributor to Winds Through Time: An Anthology of Canadian Historical Young Adult Fiction (Beach Holme, 1998). She also contributed a story to the young adult historical anthology Beginnings: Stories of Canada's Past (Ronsdale, 2001). Her books have been chosen by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre as Our Choice award winners and she has been short-listed three times for the Geoffrey Bilson Award. She taught school for several years and now lives and writes in Victoria, British Columbia.

Constance Horne's profile page


  • Short-listed, Silver Birch Award

Editorial Reviews

... a detailed and interesting picture of life on an 1880s prairie farm.

Quill and Quire

Written for the eight to 12-year-old audience, Horne's novel vividly portrays Canadian life in the late 1800s.

Focus on Adoption

Horne writes a suspenseful novel.

The characters are well drawn, the feelings of despair, abandonment, hope, and joy realistically portrayed.

Books in Review

Horne paints a very credible picture of homestead life in the 1880s in rural Manitoba, its one-room schools, the flurry of activity at threshing time, the battles with blizzards and hailstorms.

The Edmonton Journal

Other titles by Constance Horne