Johnny Kellock Died Today by Hadley Dyer

Some of you may be asking – how did I come about finding and reading this book?  Well…  it was a Library trip with my youngest – and she picked up the book commenting on the directness of the title.  Me – being silly read the back and just HAD to read the book.  It’s written by a Canadian author, it’s based in Halifax and it sounded intriguing.  What better combination?  I usually read a few lines before I decide to take a book home – well when I read the second paragraph and I could see the houses and stores on Barrington street – I knew I was doomed and  just HAD to read this book.

So aside from being very comfortable with the setting – ok it was great!  I was in Halifax over the March Break… so yes I could see almost every street and envision the houses that were the focus of this story – it was a great trip down memory lane.  The story itself was also fabulous!  It was about a family really – and the deep roots that individuals build with one another and what people will do to protect one another from harm.  I really enjoyed it!  No supernatural – no blood and guts – just down to earth goodness!

Rosalee and her neighbour David, who has just been hired to help around the house, go searching for Rosalee’s lost cousin, Johnny.  They find ways to sneak into the Shipyards and fabricate a great story to help explain where Johnny really is.  Although Rosalee is the youngest child with the oldest mother (Rosalee is convinced that this is a World Record – having the oldest mother on earth) she is desperate to hear the truth and no longer wants to be treated as the youngest.   The budding relationship between Rosalee and David is pure and refreshing!

One more thing that I truly loved about this story, was the author’s ability to capture the diction of area.  I killed myself laughing at points – because I could guess that the person was going to say before I read it.  And to make it worse I could hear it…  It was great….


Ages: 12 and up

Favourite quotes:

“At the end of the hymn, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  It was the caterwauler.  She was wearing a skinny ol’ dead fox around her neck with the head and tail still attached.  “Next time, dear”, she said, “maybe you should just mouth the words.”      p. 31

“Other times we’d take Freddie or Cecil’s car out to Queensland Beach for fish and chips, or to the Chicken Burger in Bedford, where we’d take turns choosing songs on the jukebox.”       p.68    (as a kid we used to visit these places too 🙂 )

“That’s what letting your kids read too many comics does,” said Aunt Izzie.  “Makes them right dramatic.”          p. 149

Dyer, Hadley.  (2006).  Johnny Kellock Died Today.  Toronto, ON: HarperTrophyCanada.

Author website:


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