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Hood, Kit and Linda Schuyler with Eve Jennings.

Toronto, James Lorimer. c1986. 164pp. paper, ISBN 0-88862-994-X (cloth) $12.95, 0-88862-993-1 (paper) $4.95. (The Kids of Degrassi St.). CIP

Grades 2-4
Reviewed by Ronald A. Jobe

Volume 15 Number 2
1987 March

Three in one. Episodes taken from the popular Canadian television program, "The Kids of Degrassi Street," find their appeal in focusing on the everyday happenings in the lives of ordinary kids on the block. The book focuses on three disruptions that force changes on children: the youngest member of the secret neighbourhood club has to go the the hospital to have her appendix removed, a new girl arrives on the street, and a kids news team makes a mistaken identification of a neighbourhood thief.

There is a quiet sense of story, with each episode based on the duality of reality and miscommunication in a child's life. It appears in the appealing twist of events when, as six-year-old Cookie is lying in the hospital fretting for her doll, her two friends Ida and Noel are actually plotting schemes and disguises to get past the observant desk clerk in the children's ward. Many readers will relate to Ida's insecurity, jealousy, and hostility towards the new girl on the block who. she assumes, is trying to take away her friends. The authors have recognized the loyalty of being friends as a significant concept for nine-year-olds, and the need of younger children to be recognized by older brothers and sisters. There are some delightfully serious moments between an older brother and younger sister as she tries to have him understand the importance of her reporting endeavours for her neighbourhood newspaper.

Unfortunately, the book smacks of being a text, as the format is reminiscent of that assigned to basal readers in school. The print, artistically varying in width of stroke for each letter, is challenging to read, and when combined with the broader than usual white spaces between lines, suggests that the book is really designed for younger children. In addition, the bleeding of text and illustration through the paper is distracting to the reader.

The illustrations have a distant quality to them, almost as if they were xeroxed from another source and randomly placed in the book; many do not appear to relate to the text. With the difficulty of distinguishing the characters and the emotions portrayed, why were photographs from the television series not used?

The book is written in a rather matter-of-fact style, filled with cryptic dialogue and child-like serious humour. At times, there appear to be gaps in the logic and sequence of events in the stories, but this could be due to the adaptation from the television program and will certainly not bother the children.

Readers will undoubtedly find enjoyment in understanding both views of the story predicaments, as well as relating to the familiarity of the events. Other children, familiar with the TV series, will enjoy reliving the episodes in this book format.

Ronald A. Jobe, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
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