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McKenzie-Porter, Patricia.

Halifax, Nimbus Publishing, c1982. 160pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-920852-26-2. CIP

Grades 6 and up
Reviewed by Barbara Egerer Walker

Volume 13 Number 2
1985 March

The author of When an Osprey Sails, Patricia McKenzie-Porter came to Nova Scotia in 1976 to learn how to sail and is still captivated in the exploration of the coastal waters around Nova Scotia.

When an Osprey Sails is an exciting, suspenseful adventure, involving two children aboard a sailboat in the waters off Nova Scotia with their father and new step-mother on a summer vacation.

As if the new adventure of learning to sail, and indeed living on a sailboat for several weeks, isn't enough of an adventure for Jane and Mark, the two also become involved in a rendezvous with smugglers of antiques, gold and valuable historical artifacts. The two young sailors learn about respect for individual differences, especially for their father and his new wife, in such confined quarters.

The vacation-like feeling in the story adds to the interest: The sun bronzing one's face, the cool, clean water refreshing on a hot day, the sails obedient to the winds, the smell of salt air, are all vivid in the reader's mind.

The children unearth more than a smugglers' ring and learn more than just about their father and step-mother. They reveal their own weaknesses and strengths on the sailing trip: Jane's impulsiveness and imagination, Mark's immaturity and day-dreaming.

For the non-sailor, the book contains a glossary of nautical terms that assist in making the story more comprehensible and enjoyable and include the reader in seaman's jargon. Diagrams of the sailboat 'Osprey' and the smugglers' boat, appropriately named 'Sea Devil,' aid in the understanding of the structure of the two boats and make the story really come alive. I found myself leafing to the diagrams often to allow myself to share the atmosphere of the trip and visualize the 'Osprey,' including the favourite resting spot of Alabaster the cat.

When an Osprey Sails was winner of the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia award for fiction for young readers in 1982. Readers will become absorbed in the Osprey's adventure and will identify with the fears and doubts, the exhilaration and fantasies, of these two young people.

Barbara Egerer Walker, Etobicoke P.L., Etobicoke, Ont.
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