The Sunday Edition

Tragedy builds a new family for children's author Jean Little and sister Pat de Vries

The arrival of a guest at Jean Little's home causes all sorts of uproar and commotion. Three dogs - one of them seeing-eye - tend to bring that on. But then Jean is used to welcoming a bit of commotion. Jean Little is one of Canada's best loved and most celebrated children's authors. ...
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The arrival of a guest at Jean Little's home causes all sorts of uproar and commotion. Three dogs - one of them seeing-eye - tend to bring that on. But then Jean is used to welcoming a bit of commotion.
Jean Little is one of Canada's best loved and most celebrated children's authors. 
She has written more than fifty books, including the classics  Mine for Keeps and  From Anna.  Jean is 82 years old. She's completely blind and, with the help of a computer, still writes every day.
 
But one of the biggest stories of her life - unpublished and little known - has taken place in the modest house she shares with her sister,  Pat de Vries, in Guelph, Ontario. 

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When she was in her mid-sixties, Jean took on the task, with Pat, of raising two small children - her great niece and nephew, Jeannie and Ben. 

Ben and Jeannie are the children of Sarah de Vries, Pat's adopted daughter, who disappeared from Vancouver's skid row in the spring of 1998. Sarah's DNA was later found on the pig farm of serial killer Robert Picton. 

Jeannie is 23 now and Ben has just graduated from high school. They are launched, more or less, two young people trying to make their way in the world. The sisters who raised them can stop running, sit back and think about a remarkable living arrangement that began with a phone call.

Our feature documentary, "Ours for Keeps", was produced by Cate Cochran.

Jean Little's newest book, Do Not Open Until Christmas is being launched this week. 

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