CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Sonia Craddock.
Richmond Hill, ON: Scholastic-TAB, 1986.
137pp., paper, $3.50.
ISBN 0-590-71613-1. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Runaway children-Juvenile fiction.
Mentally ill children-Juvenile fiction.
Family problems-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11

Reviewed by Jo Anna Burns Patton.

Volume 15 Number 2
1987 March

Claire, aged thirteen, and Adam, aged eleven, are spending the summer with their grandmother, their Aunt Harriet, and her autistic four-year-old, Micky. When it becomes obvious that Micky is going to be put in a residential institution, the children decide to run away to a friend's summer cottage with the autistic child, until their parents return from a hiking trip. Conveniently, when they run away, their grandmother is visiting friends for the weekend and their Aunt Harriet has been hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer.

To it's credit, the story takes an interesting look at early adolescent fears about identity and responsibility, as Claire is continually viewed by her brother as the leader. The issue of autism is highlighted to a greater extent, raising some interesting concerns about institutions and their usefulness.

Upon close scrutiny, however, there are some holes in the story. Before the children run away, they receive a visit from an unidentified stranger. Who was he and what was his significance to the story? After the children leave, the minibus arrives from the institution to pick up Micky. The bus drivers come into the house, see the note the children left for their grandmother (which simply states that they have "gone into hiding until Mum comes back"), and correctly surmise that the children have run away with their autistic cousin. Did the bus drivers have more information than was evident in the story? Once the bus drivers contact the police, although no one has spoken to the children's grandmother or to Aunt Harriet, the full names and ages of the three children are known. If you are willing to overlook these flaws in the storyline, the story is a good read and most children will find it exciting.

Jo Anna Burns Patton, ECS School of Girls, Westmount, PQ.
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