By Sylvia McNicoll

Revenge on the Fly


“Kill the fly, Save the baby!” Hamilton Spectator 1912

In 1912 twelve year-old William Alton sails with his Dad on the Empress of Ireland bound for new opportunities in Canada, leaving behind the graves of his mom and baby sister. A job for Dad, an education for Will and no more disease! Unfortunately another baby on board the ship succumbs to summer complaint and Uncle Charlie falls ill with typhoid; why does everyone get sick and die? On Will’s second day in school, the city health officer, Dr. Roberts, gives him the answer. One tiny little insect spreads germs and death. Will and his classmates declare war on the fly.

Based on the true story of how children in Hamilton caught 1.5 million flies over a three week period, Revenge on the Fly celebrates the courageous and entrepreneurial spirit of the immigrant.

Awards and Honours:
2016 Rocky Mountain Book Award nominee
2015 Kerry Schooley Book Award nominee
2014 CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection
2014 Resource Links “The Year’s Best” selection


McNicoll paints a believably gritty portrait of urban life a century ago. 

An entertaining visit to the past with a likable guide on a spirited—if icky—quest.

— Kirkus Reviews


It’s how you win, not what you win; who you are, not what you have. These are hard lessons to learn when revenge is on your mind. In a true test of successful historical fiction, we are completely immersed in Will’s world, and readers will await the outcome of the competition with bated breath.

— The National Reading Campaign


Revenge on the Fly is an excellent book…It will make readers laugh, cringe, shudder – and think.

Resource Links


…[a] novel of a young boy learning what it means to grieve, to win, and to be a man. Reminiscent of the historical novels of Karen Hesse, this quiet story is lyrically written with a believable young protagonist and a thoughtful message of hope in the midst of trouble.

— Booklist

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