Susanna Moodie: Roughing It in the Bush

Susanna Moodie: Roughing It in the Bush


Written by Carol Shields and Patrick Crowe, Illustrated by Selena Goulding, Adapted by Willow Dawson, and an Introduction by Margaret Atwood 


From the late Carol Shields and from Patrick Crowe from Xenophile Media, a new graphic novel illuminating Canadian settler history and the life of one of Canada's earliest female writers, with an introduction by Margaret Atwood.

Carol Shields was fascinated by the life and writing of Susanna Moodie. Moodie was a Romantic writer from a celebrated literary family whose life changed forever when she and her husband left England for the backwoods of Canada in 1832. The Moodies, utterly unprepared for this life, soon found themselves starving in the hostile wilderness of Upper Canada. Susanna began publishing her writing to feed and clothe her growing family.

The result was the novel Roughing It in the Bush—an aggravated and acerbic testament to settler life that was praised in England but turned Moodie into a controversial figure in Canada. Two centuries later, Moodie is honored by many as an early feminist and literary pioneer. 

Shields' long fascination with Moodie led her to collaborate on a screenplay with Patrick Crowe, which has now found its way to the world as a graphic novel. A talented adaptation by Willow Dawson and emotionally complex illustrations by Selena Goulding bring the words of the controversial and fascinating Susanna Moodie to life through the insightful personality of Carol Shields. Includes a rousing introduction by Margaret Atwood.

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About the Author

Carol Shields was an American-born Canadian author. Her 1993 novel, The Stone Diaries, won the U.S. Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Governor General's Award in Canada, among others. Her next book, Larry's Party, won the Orange Prize and Le Prix de Lire. Her last novel, Unless, was published in 2002 before Carol's death in July 2003. Shields wrote her Master's thesis on Susanna Moodie and it was her first published work.

About the Author

Patrick Crowe is a Toronto-based producer, writer, game designer, and filmmaker. He has worked for the National Film Board and the Ontario Media Development Corporation and as a producer for the CBC. He is the co-founder and president of Xenophile Media, a two-time Emmy Award-winning production company renowned for its work in content and technology, including the interactive documentary Inside Hana's Suitcase.

About the Illustrator

Selena Goulding is a Canadian illustrator and comic book artist from Vancouver Island currently living in Toronto. A graduate from the Sequential Arts Program at Toronto's Max the Mutt Animation School, she is best known for her work on young adult indie comics such as Cobble Hill, publishing with 215 Ink, as well as being a contributing illustrator for The Secret Loves of Geek Girls Anthology. This is her first full-length graphic novel.

Production Information

  • Release: April 12, 2016

  • $22.95 Paperback

  • 152 Pages

  • Graphic Novel

  • 6 x 9

  • Ages 13-18 / Grades 8-12

  • Lexile: GN660L
    Guided Reading: Z

  • ISBN: 9781772600032

Get the Interactive App

Susanna Moodie: Roughing It in the Bush is also available as an interactive app for iOS and Android.

Awards for Susanna Moodie: Roughing It In The Bush

  • Fall 2016 - Canadian Children's Book Centre's "Best Books for Kids and Teens" Starred Selection

Praise for Susanna Moodie: Roughing It In The Bush

"...certainly one of the best graphic novels I have read. It will serve as a wonderful introduction to Susanna Moodie." - CM: Canadian Review of Materials

"... Susanna Moodie: Roughing It in the Bush is a brilliant story of fortitude and resolution that exposes the scars and charms of a life lived and a country born." - CanLit for Little Canadians

"It's a marvellously strange experience to see this time and setting in a graphic novel and in Susanna Moodie's own words... kids 10 and up would be fascinated by this glimpse of the beginnings of Canada." - CBC's The Next Chapter

"A fascinating glimpse into ground-level Canadian history as well as the life story of a courageous and principled woman, Susanna Moodie: Roughing It in the Bush is highly recommended for teen and adult readers, as well as public library graphic novel collections." - Midwest Book Review

"Goulding’s all-colour artwork is particularly striking, making this amazing story all the more real. From black flies and cougars to fire and flood, Susannah battled all the hazards of her environment and even found time to write about it." - Winnipeg Free Press

"Goulding’s expressive artwork is a perfect complement for the brief, clear text that communicates the facts of Moodie’s life in Upper Canada. With a beautifully-crafted introduction by another Canadian icon, Margaret Atwood, Susanna Moodie: Roughing It in the Bush is sure to inspire readers to discover Susanna Moodie’s own writing and to learn more about a fascinating historical figure." - National Reading Campaign

"This graphic novel provides a compelling account of life as a pioneer woman in 19th-century Canada, showing the tragedies and the joys, as well as the incredible culture shock, experienced by those who were used to a different way of life. The artwork is detailed and expressive, with color palettes changing to accurately represent the mood of each scene." - School Library Journal

"Patrick Crowe and the late Carol Shields both had long connections with Moodie ... In this graphic novel, the pair have smoothed the rough edges from Moodie’s story, without losing any of its impact. This is no whitewashing of history; in the graphic novel, a despairing Moodie is often shown regretting her decisions, and the harsh frontier life is shown with all its hardships. ... Selena Goulding’s art is clean and efficient, perfect for telling the tale visually without distracting from it. With an introduction by Margaret Atwood, author of the poem sequence The Journals of Susanna Moodie, this graphic novel illuminates the figure of Susanna Moodie by shining a wider, brighter light on her story without losing the essence of what made Moodie’s original accounts so compelling." - Foreword Reviews

"The images are lavish, and on many pages, they tell the story on their own, with no dialogue needed to fill in any blanks." - subTerrain Magazine

"Stories don’t get more Canadian than this, and it’s a story that’s familiar to so many. But this is a new way of telling it — a graphic novel version of English settler Susanna Moore’s guide to life in what’s now Peterborough, Ont. ... as Margaret Atwood explains in this volume’s introduction, its real value is in its accessibility. ... It can be challenging to tune into the prose style of the 1830s, and a graphic novel is more user-friendly. This one works well, with a fresh, clear style that keeps it good and readable." - The Toronto Star

"This graphic novel features the most devastating and poignant moments from Moodie's writings to portray the life of one of Canada's first best-selling authors. A most compelling read with wonderful illustrations this bring's pioneering life to drastic reality." - It's All Comic to Me

"As Atwood points out in her introduction, this novel, and graphic novel adaptations in general, are a great way for younger or less proficient readers to be introduced to the original works and bridge gaps in understanding... Susanna Moodie: Roughing it in the Bush would be a excellent addition to high school social studies classrooms." - Resource Links

"Almost two centuries after it appeared in its original form, Roughing It in the Bush provides a timely and haunting reminder that Canada still depends on adapting to, and sharing, a challenging environment." - Herizons