Snakes & Ladders

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Dundurn, Jan 12, 2009 - Young Adult Fiction - 240 pages
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For as long as 13-year-old Paige Morrow can remember, the tree fort in the giant oak near her cottage in Ontario’s Muskoka has been her sanctuary. Now everything is changing. Its the summer of 1971, and she and her little brother, Toby, have been at their cottage with their mother since school let out. But this year, Paige feels more alone than ever. Her father has stopped coming up from the city on weekends, while her mother buries herself in whiskey and writing.

Paige retreats to her tree fort, but becomes concerned when the farmer who owns the property hires a creepy arborist – a "tree doctor," Paige’s mother calls him. Is something wrong with the farms apple orchard or with her tree? When Paige befriends the arborist’s troubled teenage daughter, Janine, and her group of rowdy locals, she is pulled into a maze of dark secrets and shocking truths that leads to a life-and-death confrontation.


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“This is definitely my favorite book. I love the story line, and the way that Smith writes is like you’re Paige’s best friend, and that you are experiencing everything with her. The story made me laugh, feel frustrated, scared, nervous, and the ending made me cry. I loved every part of it…Overall, best book I’ve ever read.” — Samantha (age 12), KIdsWWrite e-zine, 5 stars!

“This book is touching, intriguing and devastating… Snakes & Ladders is a story that you won’t soon forget.” —, 4 stars!

“A moving and memorable debut novel…” — The Globe & Mail, 4 stars!

“Snakes & Ladders is a smart coming-of-age story that will appeal to avid teen readers and those looking for a challenging read that goes beyond mere fluff.” — Liam O’Donnell, Canadian Bookseller Magazine

“A phenomenal read for young adults! Shaun Smith has written a novel rich in motifs and symbols that would appeal to both the male and female junior high aged reader. Rarely does an author or novel captivate the reader the way in which Shaun Smith has with Snakes & Ladders. A powerful summer read for any adolescent.” — Resource Links

“Author Shaun Smith uses language beautifully” — CM Magazine


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Section 12
Section 13
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Section 15
Section 16
Section 17
Section 18
Section 19

Section 9
Section 10
Section 11
Section 20
Section 21

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About the author (2009)

Shaun Smith is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in Toronto Life, Chatelaine, the Globe and Mail, and on CBC Arts Online. He is a regular book reviewer for the Toronto Star and a contributing editor at Quill & Quire. He lives in Toronto. His website is

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