Grades 9 and up

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Day, Peter and Linda Lewis. ART IN EVERYDAY LIFE: OBSERVATIONS IN CONTEMPORARY CANADIAN DESIGN. Toronto, Summerhill Press, 1988. 176pp, paper, $24.95, ISBN 0-290197-65-5. CIP

Grades 9 and up

Art in Everyday Life had the potential to be a highly respected, required book for every high school art class and design centre in Canada. Instead, like the authors' lament for Expo 67, the book falls far short of its potential.

Peter Day and Linda Lewis are suc­cessful to a certain extent in that they do point out some of the excellent design work being produced throughout Canada. If they had continued in this vein with more information on the designs, their successes in the market­place, and the reasons the designs were so successful, they would have had an excellent book. Instead, they lose themselves in self-pity about how Canadians do not care enough about the Canadian design industry.

They return again and again to their favourite theme, Expo 67, the greatness of it, and the lack of development out of that potential. Expo 86 they write off as an innovative design desert. This is a clear indication of the lack of objec­tivity the two writers have brought to their work. Having been to both Expos, 1 can vouch for the good and bad features of both, something these two authors seemingly cannot do.

This is a book that I cannot recom­mend.

William F. Benson, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.

Gibbs, Len. IMAGES: STORIES BY THIRTY FAVORITE AUTHORS. Paintings by Len Gibbs. Toronto, NC Press, 1988. 128pp, cloth, $34.95, ISBN 1-55021-007-6. CIP

Grades 6 and up

This book is a charming and successful blend of art and literature. Thirty short

Illustration from Images: Stories by Thirty Favorite Authors

vignettes, stories and personal experi­ences were chosen in a celebration of rural life. Included are works by Morley Callaghan, W.O. Mitchell, Parley Mowat, Max Braithwaite and other distinguished writers. Special moments with children, growing up, and dealing with animals and the elements are shared with the reader. The writings have a universal appeal. They could be read to children; they could be read one at a time to be pondered and savoured for the moment.

Interwoven around the writing is a beautiful collection of paintings by one of Canada's foremost realist artists, Len Gibbs. Paintings of farmers, fishermen, cowboys, and especially children show an introspective intensity rarely found in contemporary work. Each painting has a gentle drama shown on the faces. Newborn chicks, sand between toes, weathered rope all become props for a gallery of human emotion. Although there is no attempt to illustrate the stories, the paintings complement the writing well.

This book is a joy from cover to cover. Beautiful reproductions, readable layout and strong binding make this book a must for any library.

Gory Robertson, Thorn Collegiate, Regina, Sask.

Reid, Dennis. A CONCISE HISTORY OF CANADIAN PAINTING, 2ND EDITION. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1988. 418pp, cloth, $29.95, ISBN 0-19-540664-8. CIP.

Grades 10 and up

The first edition of A Concise History of Canadian Painting (Oxford University Press, 1973) has been one of the chief sources of information and opinion on an important aspect of Canadian culture. The appearance of the second edition will only make the book's position more secure.

While minor changes in wording, attri­bution and interpretation appear fre­quently—in the case of syntax, often for the better—what establishes the second edition's significance is an eighty-three-page final chapter, "The Death and Rebirth of Painting," which reports on activity from 1965 to 1980, a period that saw some of the most stimulating production and presentation in Canadian art.

Dennis Reid's account of both the period and its forerunners is urbane, meticulous and often engaging in its anecdotal detail. One wishes that more colour reproductions had been added to reflect the vibrancy of the post-Biography

Centennial years; only two out of twenty-five do so. Reid is remarkably deft at describing absent compositions; It's unfortunate that he has to Illustrate his talent so regularly.

It must be remembered, however, that this Is a concise history (although not the "handbook" the publishers claim it to be on the dust jacket). This means that omissions of all kinds have to be made. Some of us would have liked more generous treatment of paintings out west and down east, as well as more surprises in the cast. What there is, though, is good, entertaining and authoritative.

J.E. Simpson, Edmonton Public Schools, Edmonton, Alto.


Ample, Annie. THE BARE FACTS: MY LIFE AS A STRIPPER. Toronto, Key Porter Books, 1988. 192pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 1-55013-094-3. CIP

Grades 12 and up

Taking one's clothes off and exposing one's body so that bar patrons can ogle the merchandise and become sexually aroused has been elevated to a talent as described in Annie Ample's The Bare Facts.

Stripping for money is made to appear almost virtuous in the early 1980s, but by 1987 (when Annie decided to quit) it's portrayed as slightly slimy. Opportunities to earn big bucks by appearing naked before a variety of audiences, from bars to magazines to private clubs, are described In detail, always with a certain joie de vivre.

From a confused maelstrom called home, Annie grew to become an atten­tion-seeking child In an adult body. Rejection and verbal abuse played their distinctive parts In the formation of an adolescent mind that saw affection in abusive, alcoholic lovers and love in the eyes of customers who paid to see the outside shell of a hurting little girl.

However, the pain is not portrayed in a sensitive and believable manner. In the writing of the book, structure, maturity and coherence are secondary to sen­sationalism and exploitation. In essence, the book is a series of random thoughts grouped under eleven headings.

Indeed, it would be very difficult to recommend this book to any audience. At best, the descriptions and accounts might be used in a first year psychology course when studying the effects of childhood trauma on future life choices and relationship building.

As some have said, Annie's book Is tragic. I agree—tragic that it was written and published.

Catharine Joan MacDonneU, St Patrick School Kitchener, Ont

Edgeller, Evelyn. MARY BELLE BARCLAY: FOUNDER OF CANADIAN HOSTELLING. Calgary, Detselig Enter­prises, 1988. 91pp, paper, $10.95, ISBN 0-920490-79-4. CIP

Grades 10 and up

Mary Belle Barclay describes her life from her humble beginnings as a home­steader in Alberta, her struggle to become a worthy teacher, and finally, because of her great love of the outdoors, her efforts to set up the beginning of hostelling in Canada.

For those interested in the intimate details of day-to-day life on the homestead during the early 1900s, this book Is fascinating. One marvels at the dogged determination and grit of these people and their optimism in the face of great hardship.

The tone of the book is old-fashioned —lessons in life are always seen as an uplifting experience and are always turned to advantage. One is aware of the high moral standards that lie behind every word and every sentence.

Mary Belle Barclay was a tough-minded woman who exacted the most from herself, and yet this was never enough. Though a dedicated teacher, Barclay never felt she really succeeded in her quest to become an excellent teacher. She never gave up her struggle.

however, and succeeded in two other significant areas—conducting nature tours and instituting parents' involve­ment In the classroom.

This personal account is meant for the layperson but would have some interest for documentors of Canadian history. It is meant as a companion to Fifty Years of Canadian Hostelling by the Canadian Hostelling Association (Detselig Enterprises, 1988). The black-and-white photographs are a suitable addition to the text.

Kathryn Hanson, Toronto, Ont

Gzowski, Peter. THE PRIVATE VOICE: A JOURNAL OF REFLECTIONS. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart (A Douglas GibsonBook), 1988. 327pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-7710-3749-X. CIP

Grades 11 and up

The Private Voice is a look at various events in the life of Peter Gzowski as told by him. The question is, was the book necessary? Personally, I don't think so.

I became aware of Peter Gzowski when he hosted the disastrous "90 Minutes Live" talk show, from which he received a great deal of publicity, albeit negative. I attempted to put that out of my mind while reading this book.

The few bright moments in the book were overshadowed by the detailed and somewhat boring recollection of the occurrences in Gzowskt's life. Regardless of whether he Is a successful media personality or not, I found nothing that would make the story of his life interesting. Many people marry, have Biography

children, divorce, marry again and have a career, but I don't feel compelled to read about itl This book would have been more enjoyable had Gzowski shared further information on his encounters with the famous people he has inter­viewed.

I like to read about someone who has had an impact on society or who has had his or her life altered by events in history. Gzowski's book does not fit into either category.

His colleagues may be able to relate to a lot of his recollections, but not an ordinary reader. Maybe the book could be required reading for a journalism course.

On a positive note, the diary style makes this book quite easy to read. It also progresses well through the events.

Mcaiene Wylychenko, The Pas, Man,

eof Ethel Wilson MARY MCALPINE

McAlpine, Mary. THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE: A LIFE OF ETHEL WILSON. Madeira Park (B.C.), Harbour Publishing, 1988. 230pp. cloth, $26.95, ISBN 0-920080-95-2. CIP

Grades 12 and up

Mary McAlpine is a Canadian writer, Journalist and television producer who was a friend of Ethel Wilson's for thirty years. The Other Side of Silence is a thoroughly absorbing account of an unforgettable person. Anyone who is not aware of Ethel Wilson's novels, novellas and short stories will want to search local library shelves immediately after reading the story of her life.

Born in South Africa to English parents in 1888, Ethel Wilson was orphaned when she was nine. Well-meaning maternal aunts and uncles in England looked after her until her maternal grandmother brought Ethel to live with her in Vancouver in 1898.

Wilson taught school for thirteen years and at thirty-one she wrote a series of children's stories called The Surprising Adventures of Peter. Marriage to Dr. Wallace Wilson interrupted any thoughts she had about further writing at that time, and it was not until almost twenty years later that her first adult short story, "I Just Love Dogs," was published in the New Statesman and Nation. She found escape from the pressures of being a doctor's wife in her writing, and one by one her novels appeared—Hetty Dorval (London: Macmillan, 1948), The Innocent Traveller (McClelland and Stewart, 1982), Swamp Angel (McClelland and Stewart, 1962) and Love and Salt Water (New York: St. Martin's, 1956).

Frequent insertions of quotations from Ethel Wilson's writings lend conviction to the account. Those who knew this gifted writer will read this book with nostalgia; those who are meeting her for the first time will use it to further their acquaintance.

Joan Payzant, Dartmouth, N.S.

McCaffery, Dan. BILLY BISHOP, CANADIAN HERO. Toronto, James Lorimer, 1988. 225pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 1-55028-095-3. CIP

Grades 10 and up

Dan McCaffery is the editor of the Samia Gazette and is an aviation history buff. He began research for this book in 1980, but was spurred on to set the record straight on Billy Bishop's aviation career after the National Film Board's controversial production, The Kid Who Couldn't out in 1982.

This film portrayed Bishop as a liar and a fraud who was unworthy of the honours bestowed upon him. McCaffery wanted to get to the truth about the victories of the Canadian war hero, whether positive or negative. Through extensive research in military archives, aviation history books and interviews with Bishop's acquaintances and friends, McCaffery has been able to put together an interesting portrait of Bishop's aviation career.

This book is more comprehensive and objective than other biographical books on Billy Bishop. It includes background information on his personality traits that explains how and why he achieved the standing that he did. The book is very well written and makes for compelling reading. It focuses primarily on Bishop's

Don McCaffery

career. There is an extensive bibliogra­phy, which would be helpful for further research, but the lack of an index makes it difficult to pin-point specific events. This book would be a very good addi­tion to library shelves because the -/author makes Bishop come alive for the reader. It would be a good book to suggest to someone who enjoys Canadian history or military history.

Lynne McAvoy, Ottawa, Ont.

Rasky, Harry. STRATAS. Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1988. 112pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-19-540598-6. CIP

Grades 8 and up

Harry Rasky makes extraordinarily good films about extraordinary people, among them, Marc Chagall, Tennessee Williams and, in 1983, Teresa Stratas. Out of that Emmy winning film, StratasSphere, came this short but uncannily telling portrait of one of the great stars of our century.

Rasky writes as well as he makes movies, and Stratas bears the hallmark of the truly great biographies: you don't have to have any previous interest in the subject to enjoy it. A knowledge of opera will add to the reader's apprecia­tion of the scope of Stratas' singing and acting talents, but ultimately the book is about "a person who happens to be a woman who happens to be an opera singer" (the soprano's own words).

The photographs, mainly of the diva in performance and expertly chosen by an Oscar nominated visual artist, illustrate the synthesis of person and woman and opera singer so well that even the tone Collected Essays

deaf will comprehend Rasky's image of this complex, fascinating personality.

This is a rags-to-riches story that explores depths most of us will never plumb and scales peaks few of us even dare to fantasize about. It takes an hour and a half to read and another hour to look at the pictures. And it speaks volumes.

Melanie Fogel Ottawa, Ont

Stuewe, Paul. THE STORMS BELOW: THE TURBULENT LIFE AND TIMES OF HUGH GARNER. Toronto, James Lorimer, 1988. 225pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 1-55028-150-X. CIP

Grades 11 and up

The story of Hugh Garner, prolific writer of books and short stories throughout the middle years of this century, needed to be told. Garner had done this himself in his autobiography One Damn Thing After Another (Simon and Schuster of Canada, 1975), but he did it at a time in his life when his critical faculties were diminishing—the cumulative effect of years of hard drinking—while his receptivity to editorial advice—never great—had vanished under the weight of success. Thus there was certainly room for a more objective account of the life and work of one of Canada's best-known writers.

In ten well laid out chapters, Paul Stuewe, who confesses to a certain mental kinship with his subject, follows the young Garner from his entry as an English immigrant with his mother and little brother to join an irresponsible father through a youth ill spent in

Toronto's schools, Depression hardships, a stint in the Spanish Civil War and in the Canadian navy during World War II to his settling down in Toronto and the final dedication to his profession-writing.

Astutely interweaving the known facts of Garner's life with the many autobio­graphical features in his fiction, Stuewe presents a convincing portrait of Garner the loner, the anti-establishment man, the journalist, the hack who has to provide for his family, the socialist, the drinker. The one thing that is hardly touched upon is Garner the husband and father. We hear more about Garner the son and the problematic relationship with his mother and her various friends. The book ends with severalipages of source notes.

Besides providing a convincing portrait, Steuwe writes in a clear, crisp style that makes for enjoyable reading and places the book well within the reach of the high school student. Highly recommended.

Cornelia Fuykschot, Cananoque Secon­dary School, Gananoque, Ont


Francis, Diane. CONTREPRENEURS. Toronto, Macmillan, 1988. 320pp, cloth, $26.95, ISBN 0-7715-9915-3. CIP

Grades 9 and up

Contrepreneurs describes three areas of white-collar crime in which Canadians have unique expertise: boiler room operations, stock market swindles and money laundering. It is a plea for public pleasure to remedy an embarrassing and discrediting situation which persists, perhaps, because so few of us deal directly in the stock and money markets.

Readers already familiar with Diane Francis' high standard of financial journalism wil have no trouble inferring from her unadorned prose the danger inherent in Canada's growing reputation as a contrepreneur's mecca. Unfortunate­ly, the book may not be accessible to the majority of salary-earning, bank-depositing, Canada-savings-bond-purchasing taxpayers, who often eye both securities markets and private enterprise with suspicion and even distaste.

There is no glamour here, no nail-biting exploits, no rugged cops, no sexy molls. Nor is there much by way of explanation of the legitimate business world that forms the unwitting camouflage for these shady operations.

In this respect, Francis is preaching to the converted in a manner that will not stimulate the uninitiated to pursue enlightenment.

Some jargon is explained, but not necessarily when it is first used. The reader is advised to memorize definitions should they appear, since the index is limited to proper names and is therefore useless for finding terminology.

Melanie Fogel, Ottawa, Ont.

Collected Essays

Fetherling, Douglas. THE CROWDED DARKNESS: ESSAYS IN FILM CRITI­CISM. Kingston (Ont.), Quarry Press, 1988. 128pp, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-919627-13-7. CIP

Grades 11 and up

The Crowded Darkness, an excellent volume of criticism, is a collection of film columns Fetherling wrote for Canadian Forum in the 1970s. Topics covered include gangster films with special coverage of Coppola's Godfather I and I/ and their relation to other lesser gangster films including Little Caesar, Scarface and Capons. Other subjects are the changing styles in women's roles, especially gun molls, and the problems of Budge Crawley in making a film about Janis Joplin.

A real gem is an imaginary letter from Raymond Chandler to the movie-maker who improved the current Marlow so that he overcame his original creator's faults. Fetherling has a detailed knowledge of movies, an astute mind in making comparisons and judgements, and great skill in expressing his ideas with felicity.

This book will appeal to movie buffs and students. Buffs will enjoy the bits of gossip and the inside-story details. Students will appreciate the information made readily available in an index and the knowledgeable discussion of topics, which are still very relevant. The Crowded Darkness should be available to film students at the high school and post-secondary levels. Public libraries will want it for their Canadian theatre sections.

Louise Griffith, Agincoiut Ont


WRITING QUEBEC: ESSAYS BY HUBERT AQUIN. Edited by Anthony Purdy. Edmonton, University of Alberta Press, 1988. 120pp, paper, ISBN 0-88864-130-3 (cloth) $24.95. 0-88864-131-1 (paper) $14.95. CIP


Hubert Aquin committed suicide on March 15, 1977. The desperate act of a desperate intellectual permeates the present issue of Aquin's selected essays, which were written over a period of fifteen years from 1961 to 1976. Most of them first appeared in a variety of French newspapers and magazines in Quebec.

Acquin's preoccupation with what he considered the intolerable situation of French Quebec led to his own wilful annihilation. The author eventually found it impossible even to write about the politics of Quebec. He became increas­ingly caught up in a metaphysical catch-22 vis-a-vis the French Canadian fact. Throughout his essays the violence and despair of a brilliant mind flirting with insanity punctuate his experience of Quebec. To characterize Aquin as autarkical is an understatement.

This small volume is divided into fifteen chapters, together with a preface and an introduction. Unfortunately, the reader is deprived of the benefit of an index. However, the adequate margins and clear type make for easy reading. The absence of precise footnotes renders the work practically useless for serious research.

The present collection will be most useful to students of psychiatry and psychology. The contents provides concise material suitable for a psycholo­gical autopsy on suicide.

Kenneth Ettiort, Laual Catholic High School, Chomedey, Que,


Sears, Val. HELLO SWEETHEART...GET ME REWRITE. Toronto, Key Porter Books, 1988. 256pp, cloth, $22.95, ISBN 1-55013-112-5. CIP

Grades 10 and up

Thirty years ago, Sears worked as a reporter for the Toronto Telegram, a venerable daily paper that ceased publication in 1971. Now the political editor for the Toronto Star, the Telegram's great rival, Sears takes the reader back to the legendary newspaper war of the 1950s, which pitted the conservative Telegram against the liberal Star in a tooth-and-nail circulation battle.

Environment & Ecology

Me Rewrite

s; Great Newspaper Wars

It was an exciting time to be part of the Toronto newspaper scene. The Star, with its sex and sensationalism, enjoyed a comfortable lead over the Telegram, owned by John Bassett, who ran the newspaper for the sheer fun of it. The two papers vied for some of the biggest headlines of the time—the larger-than-life escapades of the Boyd Gang, the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Hazel, the intense human interest generated by Marilyn Bell's triumph over Lake Ontario.

The war was ultimately won by the Star, but during the 1950s it was anybody's game, and to get the stories the papers were ready to try anything— from kidnapping Marilyn Bell to importing a world-famous English detective to solve the mystery of a missing local girl.

Sears looks back on these heady days with undisguised nostalgia—a yearning for the period before television, technology and a new breed of journalist changed eveiything. He writes as befits his subject, in the entertaining breezy style of the newspaperman. It's a fascinating tale, full of entertaining anecdotes and enhanced by photographs. It would be of use to anyone interested in journalism or in a unique slice of Canadian social history.

Marc Shaw, Kingston, Ont

Forsyth, Adrian. JOURNEY THROUGH A TROPICAL JUNGLE. Toronto, Greey de Pencier, 1988. 80pp, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-920775-26-8. (An OWL Book). (The Journey series). CIP

Grades 5 to 8 L <^ §b-^

Journey through a Tropical Jungle W •< takes the reader on a fast-paced graphic *"" journey into the rain forests of Costa Rica. Adrian Forsyth brings to this journey the training of a biologist and the eye of an educator. Exotic plants and animals are presented to the reader with the enthusiasm appropriate for grade 5 through 8 students. Forsyth explores a wide variety of ecological concepts such as camouflage, predation, parasitism and symbiosis without burdening the reader with scientific definitions.

The journey starts at Lagarto and takes the reader on a series of trips into different parts of the rain forest of the Monteverde Reserve. Along the way the author paints a compassionate picture of the forest. Although he describes encounters with dangerous spiders and snakes, these animals are sensitively portrayed in a non-threaten­ing way. The narrative is complemented by a generous supply of attractive full-colour photographs.

The author expresses concern for the destruction of the rain forest but also expresses sympathy for the needs of the Costa Rican people. Although only five of the seventy-eight pages deal with this problem, the young reader is left with a perspective too frequently omitted—the human dimension. The book ends with a call for an effort to preserve this unique environment and the lives of the people who live there.

Peter Freeman, Booth Memorial Junior Secondary School, Prince Rupert, B.C.

Sweet, Arthur Fielding. ISLANDS IN TRUST. Lantzville (B.C.), Oolichan Books, 1988. 204pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-88982-083-X. CIP

Grades 12 and up

The preface to Islands in Trust states that its purpose is to "further the aims and objectives of the Trust" and to preserve and protect the islands. Most of the islands written about so lovingly and well are on the west side of the Fiction


Strait of Georgia. The author/editor, Arthur Fielding Sweet, has carefully researched contributions from folk on each one of the islands, and the well-printed book is enlivened by simplified maps and a number of black-and-white photographs.

This small book speaks about the islands not only in the present tense: the editor discusses the geology of the area from primeval times and the ever-present effects of weather. The first people were food gatherers whose co-

Islands in Trust



operative ventures depended on the bounty of nature. Theirs was a careful stewardship, and it was recognized by the provincial government that the environment was fragile and would suffer through overdevelopment.

As in the histories of the other islands, one person acts as spokesperson. Mary Sherwood Brimacombe, who now owns part of a family property on Gambler Island, tells about the three noticeable indents on the southwest side of this large Island. These were used for decades in logging operations, and booming is still carried out periodically in Long Bay, Centre Bay and West Bay.

There are few roads or subdivisions on the island, and residents have in the past few years been in confict with mining interests (mineral interests have staked claims on 75 per cent of the land). The three main uses promoted by the trust for Gambier are recreational, residential and forestry. After con­siderable legal wrangling the large-scale mining activities ceased, but there is a residual fear that individual operations could be possible. Many of the property owners (some fourth- or fifth-generation descendants of the original settlers) Intend to pass on their land to the next generation and wish only for changes that will be "best for the island."

Adele Case, Britannia Secondary School, Vancouver, B.C.

Blakeslee, Mary. MUSEUM MAYHEM: A LEMON STREET GANG ADVENTURE. Toronto, Overlea House, 1988. 127pp, paper, ISBN 0-7172-2512-7 (cloth) $15.95, 0-7172-2394-9 (paper) $3.95. CIP

Grades 4 to 6

The Lemon Street gang—Jason, Matthew, Kyle and David—and six other members of Mr. Jacob's Science Club are visiting the Natural History Museum during spring break. Doctor Kingsley is giving part of the tour himself. His daughter, Jill, who has been a teacher in Vancouver, and George Jacobs, the boys' teacher, are also on the tour.

Just before the beginning of the story Kingsley had found a fossilized dinosaur skull, which he thought might belong to a species not yet discovered. He thinks this find might help him obtain a coveted position in an eastern university and he keeps the specimen locked in a desk drawer in his office.

During one part of their tour Kingsley shows the boys this special skull, which he calls Allison. Just as he replaces the skull the fire alarm goes off and every­one runs from the office. Kingsley's keys are left forgotten on his desk, and soon afterwards the skull is discovered missing. Circumstances make it appear that Mr. Jacobs might be the guilty party, but the boys are very confident that he is not. The rest of the story describes how the boys attempt to prove Mr. Jacobs' innocence and the dangerous situations in which they become involved.

The story captures the reader's interest and holds it throughout. The style is appropriate for the grade level and the print is very clear.

Beatrice E. Russell, Lacombe, Alto.

Blakeslee, Mary. RODEO RESCUE. Toronto, Overlea House, 1988. 143pp, paper, ISBN 0-7172-2397-3 (cloth) $15.95, 0-7172-2475-9 (paper) $3.95. CIP

Grades 4 to 7

Eleven-year-old Trish and her brother Hal are visiting their cousins Tina and Ted in Calgary at the Stampede. Tina's sister Amy is one of the Stampede princesses and her friend Helen is the queen. At the fairgrounds, Tina and Trish are puzzled by the appearance of a woman in black collecting pop cans in a grocery cart. The next day they see her again. Then Helen goes missing. Tina and Trish see the strange woman Fiction

again and they follow her to a back-alley room where she imprisons them. They also find Helen there. Ted and Hal rescue the girls but not before the woman in black has chloroformed Helen and carried her off.

A clue gives Helen's father an idea where the woman has taken her, and everyone troops off to an isolated country spot where they find Helen about to be pushed over a waterfall to her death. Helen's abductress turns out to be her long departed deranged mother, who is neatly disposed of when she slips on a rock and disappears over the falls. Helen is safe. Her father explains what happened to her mother many years ago and why she might want to murder her own daughter.

This is a short, fast-paced novel for Nancy Drew fans. Stock characters, slangy contemporary dialogue, a colourful setting, mystery and a happy ending-it's all there. Although Rodeo Rescue has minimal literary merit, it is skilfully concocted according to the formula for these works. Two incidents that seemed unbelievable struck me as flaws: I doubt if you could put a full grown girl (Helen is of marriageable age) into a shopping cart, much less stuff her into a canvas sack and sling her over your shoulder. Still, Rodeo Rescue is an exciting, light read.

Maryleah Otto, St Thomas Public Library, St Thomas, Ont

Brooks, Martha. PARADISE CAFE AND OTHER STORIES. Saskatoon, Thistle­down Press, 1988. llOpp, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-9206333-57. CIP


The fourteen short stories that make up this collection are all under ten pages in length. Thus, they make excellent material for study in a secondary English class. The stories have a common thread in that they all involve teenagers, they all Involve love of one type or another, and they all investigate the pain of coming of age that sur­rounds dealing with that love.

Ardis is humiliated when her love is not returned by the handsomest boy In the class. Deirdre attempts in vain to persuade her dad to date. Donalda relives a past crush on a cousin in "Like Lauren Bacall," only to find out that the object of her crush and years of fanta­sizing about the relationship are only a hopeless dream.

In addition to exploring love as a central theme, the author deals with several other contemporary teen prob­lems: peer pressure, popularity, dating, family relationships and sibling rivalry.

Written for teenage and adult audi-

ences, the book deals with the over­whelming questions that teenagers explore about love but does it in a manner that causes the reader to pause and consider all facets of love relation­ships, not just the classic boy/girl type.

Particularly because of the excellent diction and use of figurative speech, this book might be considered part of any creative writing program. It is among the best short story collections I have read in a long timel

Coil Lennon, Lambton County Board of Education, Sarnia, Ont

THE CANADIAN CHILDREN'S ANNUAL. Edited by Brian Cross. Toronto, Overlea House, 1988. 128pp, paper, $11.95, ISBN 0-7172-2392-2. CIP

Grades 4 to 6

This collection of seventeen short stories and six brief non-fiction articles comes complete with half a dozen poems and several pages of puzzles and riddles. Most of the stories and other pieces are illustrated in colour by a variety of artists in greatly differing styles.

There is a considerable range of success in the fiction. A dozen of the stories are forgettable but then there is "The Pink Cube" by Monica Hughes, "Magic Mom" by G. Richardson and "The Horned Helmet" by Joyce Barkhouse. Among the non-fiction articles, I especially appreciated "Gaya-Dari the Platypus" and "How to Clean Your Room and Drive Your Mother Crazy."

The illustrations are there mainly to brighten up the pages and make the book more marketable, I believe. Most of them remind me of my old readers, but Kimberly Hart did some fantastic dancing dinosaur skeletons for a poem by Lyle Weiss, and Greg Elliott's devil for a story by Angelo Furlan is certainly a dashing fellow.

It has been my experience that collec­tions of writing" such as this do not circulate from a school library. Perhaps the child who receives this volume as a gift will take the time to examine it and will be able to mine the gold and ignore the dross. You will have to decide for yourself whether it is worthwhile for your library to buy a book with only a couple of good poems and half a dozen stories worth reading. If the rest were thrown out, this would be a mighty slim volume.

Margaret Montgomery, West Vemon Ele­mentary School, Vemon, B.C.

Degrassi Junior High

LorettaCastellarin and Ken Roberts

Castellarin, Loretta and Ken Roberts. SPIKE. Toronto, James Lorimer, 1988. 116pp, paper, $4.95, ISBN 1-55028-113-5. (Degrassi Junior High series #11). CIP

Grades 5 to 8

When Christine, aka Spike, fourteen and a virgin, went into a bedroom at a party with Shane, a minister's son and someone she had kissed only eight times, she did not expect to leave it pregnant, especially when the unplanned penetration lasted only five seconds. Based on scripts from the "Degrassi Junior High" television series, the book follows Spike through both her grade 8 year and junior high graduation, and her pregnancy and birth of her daughter.

Emotionally supported by her mother, herself an unwed mother at seventeen, Spike encounters varied reactions from schoolmates and ultimately must withdraw from school because of pres­sures from the adult community. Shane provides Spike with mixed messages as he vacillates between sharing respon­sibility and avoiding the problem. His religious background causes him to reject the notion of Spike's having an abortion, but he delays revealing his paternity to his parents.

Throughout the story, Spike must make decisions, with the first being whether to terminate the pregnancy or to carry to term. The book's open ending finds Spike having decided to keep her newborn daughter but her mother telling her that she is not prepared to have another baby in her life. Regular viewers of the television series will be able to carry the plot further.


This is an engaging story that will attract a strong readership due to its television connection, which is under­lined by a colour photo of Amanda Stepto, who plays Spike, on the cover.

Dave Jenkinson, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Man.

Choyce, Lesley. COMING UP FOR AIR. St. John's (Nfld.), Creative Publishers, 1988. 85pp, paper, $8.95, ISBN 0-920021-55-7. CIP


Most of the short stories in this book are set in Atlantic Canada and Choyce is at his best when writing about that area. The stories concern fisherman, help-line counsellors, professors, writers, Woolco salesmen, brick-layers and soldiers and the unseen sides to their jobs and characters. In most of the stories there is really very little action or plot but there is a good revelation of character. We see the reasons people settle for jobs seemingly beneath their skills and why they do not have ambi­tion in the conventional sense.

The title story involves Daniel, who has given up graduate school to be a help-line counsellor and year-round wind-surfer. He feels that his listening does very little to help anyone and his life seems to go on with very little purpose. A near drowning in the storm-tossed Atlantic shows him that the body exerts a strong will to live even when the mind has given up. This knowledge, however, means that he must now take better care of his body and perhaps give up the single greatest pleasure in his We.

This is well-written fiction with a strong message. It would be useful with mature high school students (grade 12 and up) in Canadian literature courses. It should be included in high school libraries.

Jerry McDonnell, F. E. MadQl Secondary School, Wingham, Ont

COMING ATTRACTIONS 6. Edited by David Helwig and Maggie Helwig. Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1988. 152pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-722-0 (cloth) $25.95, 0-88750-723-9 (paper) $12.95.


The three writers in this book-­Christopher Fisher, Carol Anne Wien, and Rick Hillis—have each given us three stories.

Christopher Fisher's first story, "Cucumber," takes place in a small

fictional town called Dolguard. Sam, an old man living by himself after a life of hard work at many jobs, has been put in hospital because of his love of alcohol. After some months, he insists on coming home to his own shack and being near all his old buddies. Fisher's writing has an honesty and directness that evoke sympathy, laughter and pain.

Carol Anne Wien begins her stories with the surface of things, but there is always a deeper meaning. The central themes are the dangers that exist at the fringes of an orderly life, and her style is a careful and insistent probing. Everything is questioned and details gradually unfold their complicated meanings. There is a feeling that there is still a final message—perhaps that things are not always just alf they seem on the surface.

Rick Hillis, like Christopher Fisher, writes about ordinary people but he likes to experiment with his style. His first story is about an elderly nurse working in an old folks home. Through her eyes we see the patients as cowboys at a rodeo backed by the theme of "Tumbling Tumbleweed." We also see the thwarted dreams of her own life. His third story, "Rumours of Foot," is a similar mythological dream of a would-be football hero. The other story, "The Summer Tragedy Report," which is writ­ten in a more traditional style, is realistic with good character development.


Edited by David Helwig & Maggie Helwig


These three writers are new but full of promise and are well worth reading. This book has an attractively designed cover but the binding will not stand a great deal of wear. A good addition to a school library.

Mottle Hooper, QuaUcwn Beach, B.C.

Crook, Marion. CROSSCURRENTS. Toronto, Overlea House, 1988. 203pp, paper, ISBN 0-7172-2476-7 (cloth) $15.95, 0-7172-2477-5 (paper) $3.95. CIP

Grades 5 to 8

This story of two children and their summer vacation on a tugboat is set on Vancouver's Fraser River. At first, the children enjoy the straightforward pleasures of travelling up and down the river, crewing on the boat, and explor­ing the New Westminster Quay. But then the tugboat becomes the object of several sabotage attacks, and the story builds towards an exciting and suspense-ful climax as Megan and Ricky help solve the mystery.

The greatest strength of Crosscurrents lies in the evocation of its setting. The descriptions of tugboat life on the Fraser River are clearly based on care­ful observation and research, and the result is both convincing and interesting.

The characterizations in the novel are also strong. Instead of the insufferable and improbable maverick young sleuths of standard juvenile mystery fare, the protagonists of Crosscurrents are believably human and insecure: Megan is afraid of water and is convinced that she is ugly and fat; Ricky is sensitive about being skinny and bony. Their approaches to problem solving are very different, and the contrast between Megan's intuitive approach and Ricky's relentless logic—and their increasing mutual respect—is one of the novel's important themes.

The plot of Crosscurrents occasionally flows awkwardly and might have been improved by the inclusion of a wider net of suspects and motives. This is none­theless a competent—if unexceptional-mystery novel. It is recommended for children in the Intermediate grades.

Janet Tomkins, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alto.

Deverell, William. PLATINUM BLUES. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1988. 261pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-7710-2661-7. CIP


Lawyer/novelist William Deverell carves up the record trade in his latest outing, Platinum Blues.

Deverell's improbable hero is Oliver Gulliver, a lawyer who is also the mayor of Foolsgood, California. One day, Gulliver's eighteen-year-old daughter arrives home with fading rocker C.C. Gilley. Gilley is a drunk. However, he soon dries up, gains Gulliver's reluctant favour, and recommences writing songs. One is pirated and becomes a hit. Gulliver is urged to intercede and works Fiction

through a mid-life crisis by tackling the L.A. recording industry and the courts. In the process, he finds romance.


Deverell handles this potentially hokey material with aplomb. He takes pains to avoid the wrong-headed hip talk that dooms most music novels. He has also done his research. The legal milieu comes naturally, of course, but the industry scenes are rock solid, too. The bad guys are one dimensional, but the major characters work on a number of levels. The writing is suitably gritty.

Platinum Blues is the kind of plot-rich novel that might work in high school. It's "popular" and may date quickly, but the book grabs you quickly and doesn't let go. This reviewer polished it off in one highly pleasurable sitting.

Doug Watling, Meadowvale Secondary School, Mississauga, Ont

Diamond, Ann. MONA'S DANCE. Kingston (Ont.), Quarry Press, 1988. 240pp, paper, $10.95, ISBN 0-919627-98-6. (The New Canadian Novelist series). CIP


Mona's Dance, according to the publisher, "is a post-feminist comedy chronicling the picaresque adventures and outrageous opinions of the heroine, Mona, who works as a strip-tease artist in Montreal and New York."

Such an assessment grants the novel a level of validity this reviewer failed to recognize. Afona's Dance is a hopeless

70 CM XVII/2 March 1989

tangle of incoherent ideas. Images and incidents enmeshed and ridiculous, be­yond salvaging.

Margaret MacLean, Central Technical School, Toronto, Ont

88 BEST CANADIAN STORIES. Edited by David Helwig and Maggie Helwig. Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1988. 160pp, . paper, ISBN 0-88750-724-7 (cloth) $25.95, 0-88750-725-5 (paper) $12.95.

Grades 10 and up

For the past eighteen years Oberon Press has published a collection of what its editors consider to be the best short stories emanating from the pens and word processors of Canadian writers. There are twelve short stories here that range from the mediocre to the fabu­lous—more of the former than the latter, unfortunately.

Timothy Findley's "Bragg and Minna," about the complex and convoluted relationship of a modern couple, is the highlight of the collection. As always, Findley's work is remarkable for the breadth of his vision and the control of his language. What is noteworthy in this twenty-three-page story is what Flndley makes so crystal clear to readers— without having to say a word.

Douglas Glover's "Why I Decide to Kill Myself & Other Jokes" is compassionate flippancy (satire at times), which leaves readers laughing—and crying. Here are characters that do more than breathe, they live.

The same cannot be said of the rest of the collection. Bronwen Wallace, who makes her foray into short story writing with "Heart of My Heart," provides a thoughtful, well-crafted piece of writing, albeit without much spark. The remain­der of the prose, however, is either predictable (and ho-hum) or contrived, or both.

Readers will frequently be visited by images of writers hunched over type­writers, cold coffee cups at their side. They are trying to produce "good writing." What they are actually doing is getting in the way of the stories them­selves.

donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, N.S.

Givner, Joan. UNFORTUNATE INCI­DENTS. Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1988. 144pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-732-8 (cloth) $25.95, 0-88750-733-6 (paper) $12.95.

Adult The back cover states that this is

Joan Givner's fourth book. Where has she been hiding and where can I get the other three? This well-written, easy-to-read collection explores a world of memories and how those memories shape the present.

A child's world view, however inac­curate, shapes the adult she will become. A parent's world view, however mad, shapes that of the child. In many cases, both are looking for their niche, that spot in the world in which they are comfortable.

The most poignant story in the collec­tion, "Nelly's Place," recounts the visit of a biographer to the home town of the dead writer whose biography she is writing. The writer's story gradually unfolds both to the reader and to the biographer. Slowly, we see more and more of this eccentric woman whose creativity in writing is surpassed only by the imagination she has shown in fash­ioning a persona for herself. And this increasing familiarity breeds an unwanted (at least by the biographer) contempt.

As with all of Oberon's publications, this book is well bound and printed. However, typographical errors, e.g., a complete line of print missing, can be annoying for even the most ardent reader. These are minor points and should not deter anyone from adding Unfortunate Incidents to a collection, especially one that emphasizes Canadian women writers.

SharonA. McLennan McCue, Ottawa, Ont.

Godfrey, Marryn. SEND IN MS TEENY WONDERFUL. Toronto, Scholastic-TAB, 1988. 160pp, paper, $3.95, ISBNjQ-590 71954-8. CIP ' ' '

Grades 7 to 9

This is the third book in the "Msi Teeny Wonderful" series and, as you might expect, all the familiar characters are back having another adventure. This time, the action takes place in Ottawa, where Carol Weatherspoon (Ms T.W.) and her official "escort" and long-time good friend Wally Stutzgummer are represen­ting Canada Woman magazine at a BMX conference. Of course, Carol's rivals for the title—the hated Campbell twins—are back as well and are up to their usual petty pranks designed to annoy the heroine.

Just to liven up the plot, there are two new characters—one very macho and obnoxious BMX champion who dislikes Carol on principle (the "girls cannot ride bikes" type) and a real Middle Eastern prince who instantly falls in love with Carol and presses her for a long-term engagement until she's old enough to become one of his wives (apparently the custom in his countryl). Fiction

Carol is not your typical beauty contest winner, but then this contest with its "Ms" title isn't too typical, either. This reviewer would have felt more comfortable if the author had found a vehicle for Carol other than the in-fighting world of the beauty contest (witness the stereotyped jealousy of the Campbell twins). That's why I was rather relieved to read that Carol had crowned another thirteen-year-old to take her place as Ms. Teeny Wonderful. My relief was short-lived, however, as I read that another magazine was thinking of holding a Ms Teeny-World contest for girls in junior high. Guess who is going to be entered as Ms Teeny-Canada? To quote Carol, "I'm not sure I'm ready for another beauty/talent/charm contest," but this book has enough strengths to warrant a place on your modern-series shelf.

Patricia Fry, Toronto, Ont

Houston, James. WHITEOUT. Toronto, Greey de Pencier Books, 1988. 175pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-920775-28-4. CIP

Grades 7 and up

This is James Houston's nineteenth „ novel. Three of his previous works " (Tikta'liktak (New York: Harcourt, Brac and World, 1965), The White Archer (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1967, 1979), and River Runners") won the Canadian Library Association's Book of the Year for Children Award. As well, Houston has twice won the

Canadian Authors Association Vicky Metcalf Award (1977, 1981). In Whiteout Houston returns once more to his favourite subject, the north, and he has once again produced an engrossing tale.

In brief, Whiteout is the story of a city teenager in trouble with the law who is sent by his mother and the courts to live with his crusty old uncle at a Hudson's Bay Company outpost on Baffin Island. There he is to teach music and gain the respect of his uncle, who controls his inheritance. Befriended by the company clerk, he begins to develop ties with the Inuit, and his nightly music lessons soon become jam sessions for native music. Then a romance with a young Inuit begins, but nature intervenes and puts their very lives in peril. Their attempt*to deal with an arctic white-out makes for a spell­binding tale.

Whiteout illustrates most of James Houston's strengths: a captivating story­line, a realistic setting, believable characters, a very readable style, and a wealth of knowledge about his subject. If any fault is to be found with this novel, it might be the slow beginning and/or the logical but unsatisfying ending. However, as a work of juvenile fiction, it will find a wide audience in both junior and senior high schools.

Clare A. Darby, Three Oaks S.H.S., Sumrnerside, P.E.I.

•Reviewed vol. VIII/2 Spring 1980 p. 116.

Kasper, Vancy. STREET OF THREE DIRECTIONS. Toronto, Overlea House, 1988. 141pp, paper, ISBN 0-7172-2480-5 (cloth) $15.95, 0-7172-2481-3 (paper) $3.95. CIP

Grades 5 to 8

Vancy Kasper is a highly acclaimed writer of poetry for adults and is the author of Always Ask for a Transfer (Alberta Education, 1985). Her second novel is Street of Three Directions, which is set in Toronto's Chinatown. The novel's central character Is Amanda Chong, or Mei Ling, as she is called by her family. She's a gifted student who works hard at her studies. She helps out in her father's Dundas Street restaurant and takes her grandmother to the Lung Kong Association every Sunday for mah-Jong. But her raison d'etre is her interest in photography.

When Amanda is challenged by her arch rival James Urquart III to work together on an entry for an upcoming photography contest, life becomes a little complicated. An archaeological dig currently being carried out at the school Amanda and James attend pro­vides some excellent shots. But a gold ring is stolen from the site, and James

is accused of the theft. Amanda is sure she knows who actually took the arti­fact but is reluctant to expose the thief. As an unlikely friendship develops between Amanda and James, Amanda realizes that she must reveal her secret.

Street of Three Directions

Vancy Kasper

As Amanda and James' friendship intensifies, so does the conflict Amanda experiences as her traditionalist Chinese culture clashes with Canadian culture. Rasper's treatment of the subject will provide readers with a realistic picture of young people growing up in an urban ethnic area. The topics of archaeology and photography are covered in just enough detail to maintain readers' interest without losing them in techni­calities. The plot moves along at a satisfying rate, characters are believable, and the narrative is smooth.

A well-bound, readable paperback, Street of Three Directions would be a recommended buy for a general interest paperback collection.

Katherine Wallis, Barrie Public Library, Barrie, Ont

Luiken, Nicole. UNLOCKING THE DOORS. Toronto, Scholastic-TAB, 1988. . 144pp, paper, $3.95, ISBN 0-590-71808-8. CIP

Grades 5 to 8

Sixteen-year-old Mercedes is the only person in her family who is visited by Vivian, a twelve-year-old ghost whose

March 1989 CM XVII/2 71

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