The Whirlpool

Written by Laurel Croza & illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
Published by Groundwood Books

In these seven stories, five teenagers, a doll and a squirrel break out of the expectations placed upon them.

Charity takes small steps to escape her controlling father. Jasmine endures the whirlpool of rumours about her at school, even though no one really knows what happened last summer. The Oh! So Perfect Hair Dolly wishes for just the right child to take her home from the store. Nicola has a run-in with a classmate on her first day at a new school in the big city - or is the classmate a wolf in disguise? A squirrel ruminates on the nature of life and death. Dani fights for her dream, in spite of her father's insistence that her older brother should be the one to play hockey. Mike finds the kind of family he has longed for in his coworkers at the restaurant.

Featuring beautiful black-and-white illustrations by Kelsey Garrity-Riley.


“...originality and artful magic...they provide a deeper understanding of life and the currents of meaning to be found within it. Croza has constructed each of her seven stories with sensitive attention to detail and an empathetic understanding that rings as true and clear as a bell. These are stories that will inform the lives of young readers, allowing them to learn something about the human condition and about themselves.” Highly recommended. 
- Canadian Children’s Book News

"Figurative language describing memories, nature, and dreams personalizes each entry...There's a persistent yet subtle sense in every story of the strive to rise above the ordinary and gain a higher view...A thoughtful read for a contemplative teen..."
- School Library Journal 

"...brief, but powerful...Croza beautifully employs the short-story format, placing much of the emotional weight on what is left unsaid and imbuing the tales with a sense of both melancholy and hope. Simple but imagistic prose breathes freshness into everyday scenes..."
- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

(read the complete review)

"...a highly recommended collection...about a series of fascinating and unique characters." Excellent
- Resource Links

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“Each story…is packed with emotional growth, from taking first steps to fulfilling one’s destiny, or saving yourself, or accepting strengths and weaknesses as part of the whole package. The stories may be brief…but they wallop you with the power of their storytelling, dialogue and message. My favourite, The Sunflower, does that all in five pages.”
- CanLit for LittleCanadians

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"The vocabulary is simple, yet the stories are beautifully written and described." Highly recommended
- CM Magazine

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"...features a cast of achingly relatable, real characters, even when Croza is at her most creatively (and wonderfully) strange...fresh and wild, but always grounded in the longing for belong and connection so familiar to young readers.
- Open Book

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“This is officially shelved in the “Middle Readers” section of the store, but anyone can enjoy a smart and breezy read. This collection of stories…is simply a great antidote to heat-induced ennui. The added bonus is that when you’re finished, you can pass it along to your favourite young person.”
- Type Books

  • The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books
    (Fall Edition 2018 * starred selection)

  • CCBC Favourite Books of the Year
    (2018: selected)