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Robert Gibbs.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1984.
96pp, cloth, $17.95 ; paper, $9.95.
ISBN 0-88750-512-0 ; 0-88750-513-9.

Grades 4 and up.

Reviewed by Boh Kinczyk.

Volume 12 Number 6
1984 November

If the editors at Oberon had corrected the sentence fragments, added a dozen illustrations, and scrapped the first forty-five pages, this book might have had a chance. But they didn't. A Mouth Organ for Angels is a failure for Oberon. Kids will not enjoy this book.

For no apparent reason, Madeline, a strong-headed little waif, has been imprisoned in a sprawling, gloomy boarding-house for eccentrics and grotesques. She begins work in a depressing little shop, meets a boy named Tibby, runs away with him, finds her dog, Gingercat, and seeks help to find her way home. Help arrives in the form of a cryptic poem. She sets out for the river and Weaver's Landing.

Her trip to Weaver's Landing is rather fun. And so is her adventure-filled trip to Mount Joy. There she finally learns why she was sent to the boardinghouse:

"Maybe you were sent there because you weren't a prisoner. Maybe you were sent there to do something about it. Who'd you say now, honey, the real prisoners were?"
"D'you mean to let them out? To let them all out?"
"Let them out or get them out. By hook or by crook, honey. That's work you were cut out for."

Predictably, her new knowledge sets her on the road to freedom.

The book's Oliver Twisty characters and Alice-in-Wonderlandish adventures give it a lot of sparkle, but kids, I think, will find the story-line difficult to follow. I did. And personally. I had trouble. Getting past. The sentence fragments:

Next to her is Georges. The Belgian coalman. Nobody's ever told me his other name. And he can't speak English himself. He's bent too. But not so bad as Marjorie. And he does have some yellow teeth. In his dark flat face.

Boh Kinczyk, Central Elgin C. I., St. Thomas, ON.
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