Stratton, Allan 1951–

views updated

Stratton, Allan 1951–


Born 1951, in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Education: University of Toronto, B.A., 1973, M.A. (drama).


Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada. E-mail—[email protected].


Playwright, novelist, educator, and actor. Actor at Stratford Festival and at major regional Canadian theatres. Actor's Studio, New York, NY, member of playwright/director unit, 1986-88; Etobicoke School of the Arts, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, head of drama department, 1998-2000.

Awards, Honors

Chalmers Award and Dora Mavor Moore Award, both 1981, both for Rexy!; Chalmers Award for Outstanding New Play, Governor General's Award finalist, and Dora Mavor Moore Award finalist, all 1986, all for Papers; Stephen Leacock Award of Merit, for The Phoenix Lottery; Michael L. Printz Honor Book award, Top Ten Black History Books for Youth designation, and Best Books for Young Adults listee, all American Library Association (ALA), and ForeWord Book of the Year, Silver Stones Honor Book designation, International Readers Association Honor Book designation, Young Adult Canadian Book Award finalist, IPPY Award for Best YA Fiction, Children's Literature Choice designation, Children's Africana Best Book Award for the Older Reader, White Pines Award Honor designation, Ontario Library Association, and Leicester Book of the Year Award for Teen Fiction, all 2005, Snow Willow Award, Saskatchewan Library Association, Young Adult Canadian Book Award finalist, and Empfehlungstiste zum

Katholischen Kinder-und Jugendbuchpreis shortlist (Germany), all 2006, and Prix Sorcières (France) finalist, Washington State Evergreen Award finalist, and British Columbia Stellar Award nomination, all 2007 all for Chanda's Secrets; YALSA Best Books for Young Adults and Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, Canadian Children's Book Centre Choice designation, Tayshas Reading Circle Award, White Pines Award Choice designation, and ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant YA Readers designation, all 2001, and ALA Best Books for Young Adults designation, 2002, all for Leslie's Journal.



72 under the O (produced in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 1977), Playwrights Co-op (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1978, revised as Bingo! (produced in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, 1987), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1987.

Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii (produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1980, then New York, NY), Playwrights Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1981, Samuel French (New York, NY), 1982.

Rexy! (produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1981), Playwrights Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1981, published in Canada Split: Two Plays, 1991.

Joggers (produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1982), Playwrights Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983, published in Words in Play, 1988.

Friends of a Feather (adaptation of Célimare, by Eugene Labiche and A. Delacour; produced in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, 1984), Playwrights Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1984.

Papers (produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1985), Playwrights Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1986, Samuel French (New York, NY), 1990.

The 101 Miracles of Hope Chance (produced in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 1987), published in Words in Play, 1991.

Words in Play: Three Comedies (includes The 101 Miracles of Hope Chance and Joggers), edited by Robert Wallace, Coach House Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1988.

Bag Babies: A Comedy of (Bad) Manners (produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1990, then London, England), Coach House Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1991.

A Flush of Tories (produced in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 1991), Playwrights Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1991, published in Canada Split, 1991.

Canada Split: Two Plays (contains A Flush of Tories and Rexy!), edited by Odette Dubé, Nuage (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1991.

Dracula: Nightmare of the Dead (adaptation of the novel by Bram Stoker), produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1995.

The Phoenix Lottery (based on Stratton's novel; also see below; produced in London, Ontario, Canada, 2001), Playwrights Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.

Author of radio play When Father Passed Away. Contributor of play The Rusting Heart to Alphabet magazine.


Leslie's Journal (young-adult novel), Annick Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.

The Phoenix Lottery (adult novel), Riverbank Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.

Chanda's Secrets (young-adult novel), Annick Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

Chanda's Wars (young-adult novel), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2008.

Stratton's novels have been translated into several languages, including Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Slovenian, French, German, Indian, and Dutch.


A Flush of Tories and Friends of a Feather were adapted for television by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC); the play The Rusting Heart, was adapted for CBC Radio, 1970.


Allan Stratton is a Canadian playwright and author who began his involvement with the arts as a child. His mother, a teacher, began taking Stratton to performances of plays by William Shakespeare when he was five years old. Stratton began acting in high school, and his play The Rusting Heart was produced for radio by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation when he was in twelfth grade. Studying drama at the University of Toronto, Stratton also continued writing. His first professionally

produced play was staged in 1977. With the success of Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii, which by 2005 had been produced internationally over 300 times, Stratton gained the means to write full time. Other successful plays include 1981's Rexy!, a satire about former Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, Papers, a romantic comedy set in academia, and Bag Babies: A Comedy of (Bad) Manners, a satire about philanthropy and greed. In Dracula: Nightmare of the Dead Stratton adapts the famous horror novel by Bram Stoker, casting his work with a female van Helsing to better examine Victorian mores and the complex relationship between sex and death.

In addition to stage works, Stratton has also produced the award-winning young-adult novels Leslie's Journal and Chanda's Secrets. Praised by School Library Journal reviewer Marilyn Payne Phillips as "the Go Ask Alice … of this millennium," Leslie's Journal focuses on fifteen-year-old Leslie and her difficulties at school, both academically and socially. At home, her parents are divorced, her father has a live-in girlfriend, and her distraught mom has no time or interest in talking. At school, peer pressure is pushing her toward drugs and promiscuity. Needing acceptance, Leslie tries to look the part, and even experiments with drugs, but when she becomes the victim of date rape, she has no one but her best friend Katie to turn to. A journaling assignment in her English class also provides Leslie with a way to express her feelings, and the teacher locks the journals in a closet with the promise that they will never be read. However, when a substitute teacher unaware of the confidentiality pact takes charge of the class, the startling revelations in Leslie's journal are exposed, opening the teen to threats of violence at the hands of her emotionally unstable ex-boyfriend. Reviewing what she deemed "an exemplary first young adult novel," Canadian Review of Materials contributor Carole Marion described Leslie's Journal as "a realistic and thought-provoking glimpse into the mind of a frightened and desperate teenage girl" that also serves as "a story of hope and conviction." "Leslie's voice is absolutely authentic," maintained a Quill & Quire reviewer, the critic adding that Stratton's drama-honed "dialogue sizzles, and the action sequences are vividly described."

As Stratton explained on his home page, his second young-adult novel, Chanda's Secrets, grew "out of my experiences in Botswana, as well as the times I've spent as a caregiver for friends in the final stages of AIDS." Stratton's heroine, Chanda, is a sixteen year old living in a fictionaly country in sub-Saharan Africa. Chanda lives in a small, cinder-block home in a city slum with her mother and young siblings. When the novel opens, Chanda is making funeral arrangements for her youngest sister, Sara, while her mother lies in bed, overwhelmed with grief. Soon Chanda worries that her mother's continuing fatigue, headaches, and weigh loss are caused by something more serious than sadness. Searching for a cure, Mama leaves for the family's ancestral village of Tiro. When the woman does not return, Chanda realizes the truth: her mother has contracted AIDS and has gone to Tiro to die in secret so her children will not be shamed by her disease. Driven by her love for her mother, Chanda travels to Tiro and brings her mother home to care for her until her death. Paralleling Chanda's story is that of her best friend, Esther. When Esther's parents die of AIDS-related illness, her brothers and sisters are scattered among various relatives. Ironically, Esther turns to prostitution to earn enough money to support her family, risking the AIDS virus, as a way to reunited her siblings.

Stratton continues Chanda's inspiring story in Chanda's Wars, which begins six months after Chanda's mother's death and finds the girl struggling to raise her younger brother Soly and little sister Iris. Determined to end a feud with the residents of Tiro, Chanda brings her siblings to the remote rural village. While predators lurk in the rugged country through which the children travel, across a nearby border a brutal civil war is spreading, and rebels led by the ruthless General Mandiki attack at night and steal children. When the unthinkable happens, Chanda finds a young tracker to help her journey through a forbidding landscape to rescue Soly and Iris from a fate as child soldiers.

Reviewing Chanda's Secrets for School Library Journal, Kathleen Isaacs wrote that while Stratton's description of life in sub-Saharan Africa is "convincing and smoothly woven into this moving story of poverty and courage, … the real insight for readers will be the appalling treatment of the AIDS victims." Resource Links contributor Anne Hatcher also praised the novel, noting that Stratton effectively "brings the despair, overwhelming poverty and the impact of AIDS/HIV to life while at the same time depicting the strength of human character when faced with adversity." A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Chanda's Secrets were directed to fighting the AIDS epidemic ongoing in sub-Saharan Africa.

Stratton's favorite hobbies are snorkeling and traveling. In addition to exploring all over Europe and North America, he has visited Egypt, Morocco, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, China, Thailand, Singapore, Turkey, Cuba, and Mexico. He volunteered for years at a soup kitchen in New York City, slept between rail cars in the former Yugoslavia, has undergone a santerían purification ritual in rural Cuba, and shook hands with Pope Paul VI in Vatican City. He lives in Toronto with his partner, two cats, and a pond full of fish.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Back Stage, November 26, 1982, Muriel Broadman, review of Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii, p. 64.

Booklist, March 15, 2001, review of Leslie's Journal, p. 1384; July, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 1843.

Books in Canada, April, 1982, review of Rexy!, p. 10.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 2004, Karen Coats, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 527.

Canadian Book Review Annual, 2000, review of Leslie's Journal, p. 505; 2004, Allison Sivak, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 527.

Canadian Review of Materials, February 16, 2001, Carole Marion, review of Leslie's Journal.

English Journal, September, 2005, Alleen Pace, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 105.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2004, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 498.

Kliatt, July, 2004, KaaVonia Hinton, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 24.

Magpies, November, 2004, Anne Briggs, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 42.

Quill & Quire, August, 2000, review of The Phoenix Lottery, p. 21; September, 2000, review of Leslie's Journal, p. 63.

Resource Links, December, 2000, review of Leslie's Journal, p. 30; June, 2004, Anne Hatcher, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 27.

School Librarian, autumn, 2005, Sarah Wilkie, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 42.

School Library Journal, April, 2001, Marilyn Payne Phillips, review of Leslie's Journal, p. 150; July, 2004, Kathleen Isaacs, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 112.

Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2001, review of Leslie's Journal, p. 427; December, 2004, Allan Stratton, review of Chanda's Secrets, p. 397.


Allan Stratton Home Page, (April 15, 2007).

Authorviews Web site, (April 15, 2007), video of Stratton discussing Chanda's Secrets.

About this article

Stratton, Allan 1951–

Updated About content Print Article