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Morck, Irene.

Saskatoon, Western Producer Prairie Books, 1988. 176pp, paper. $12.95. ISBN 0-88833-257-2. CIP

Grades 5 to 9
Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January

Fifteen-year-old Keri is afraid of everything from rambunctious cows on the family's Alberta ranch to hens, which resist her egg-taking efforts. Perceiving herself unpopular, Keri dreads being bussed to a new high school near Calgary. Her greatest fear, though, involves riding her tall horse. Fancy, at a rate beyond a walk, for whenever Keri attempts cantering, she panics, stops jerkily, and falls. The fact that Colleen, Keri's much younger sister, can gallop only elevates her embarrassment and shame.

Momentarily angered by parental criticisms of her riding, Keri retaliates by revealing that classmates are cheating in school. When the parents share this information, Keri is first ostracized by most schoolmates and then framed for shoplifting. Further, a small pony that Keri had borrowed to gain riding confidence dies because of her forgetful-ness. When a school skiing trip offers Keri another opportunity to conquer her fears, she finally displays appropriate courage.

The strength of Morck's writing resides in her portrayal of teen interactions, particularly those focusing on Keri's rejection by peers. Less successful are Morck's adults, especially Keri's parents and her English teacher, Miss Phillips. A romantic triangle involving Keri, new neighbour Steve and fellow student Ron is hinted at but remains undeveloped. The climactic skiing incident appears contrived and the book's ending is predictable, but this first novel by a new Alberta author will still find a ready audience amongst middle school readers.

Dave Jenkinson, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Man.
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