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Quigg, Pamela Jacobson and Joan Pedersen.

Markham (Ont.), Fitzhenry & Whiteside, c1985. 32pp, paper, $3.95, ISBN 0-88902-605-X. (Canadian Families) CIP

Grades 2-3
Reviewed by Fran Newman

Volume 14 Number 3
1986 May

First of all, this is an unattractive book, reminiscent of the 1950s in its illustrations. Yet the theme is exceedingly pertinent; suburban sprawl taking over farmland while the downtown core begins to decay. How does one get this concept from a book of this title? That is part of the weakness that I see. There are really two stories here. The first is a simple going-to-see-Grandpa for a surprise birthday celebration. On the way, didactic measures abound. The children ask very pertinent questions. "Are we going to go on the bridge that goes over the road, Dad? What's it for?" (The children appear to be eight or nine. Can they really not know the answer?) The language is simple to the point of absurdity, obviously because it is meant to be read by young students. When they reached their grandparents' house both girls jumped from the car:

"Here we are,"
"Surprise, Grandpa!"
"Surprise! Surprise!"

A new story unfolds as the children notice that their downtown area is a series of closed and closing-out businesses. Then the principal (a woman, not a surprise any more) announces to the school assembly that they have one extra classroom and are soon to have a second. "We may have to close the school because of empty classrooms." The children come up with a series of ideas to use the extra space: before-school choir practice, recess rainy-day films, lunch room, after-school arts and crafts, and behold, the school should not have to be closed. Balderdash. A school closing is a matter for long study and board decision. It is economic as well as political, and no list of activities such as this would sway the administration. We are led to believe that the principal has the authority to keep the school open, which is ridiculous. This is one of a series. It is to be hoped the rest show more imagination and more reality. I do not recommend this one.

Fran Newman, Murray Centennial P.S., Trenton, Ont.
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