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Thompson, Richard.

Illustrated by Ruth Ohio. Toronto, Annick Press, 1988. 126pp, paper, ISBN 1-55037-025-1 (cloth) $8.95. 1-55037-024-3 (paper) $5.95. (Annick Young Novels). Distributed by Firefly Books. CIP

Grades 4 to 6
Reviewed by Gail K. Lennon

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January

This story, originally created by the author in 1951 is the adventure of two eleven-year-old friends whose families have brought them to live off the land in the mountainous area of British Columbia. Orin's mother has become disillusioned with this rural life and has taken her two children back to the urban advantages. However, the children return to the mountains each summer to vacation with their father and to rekindle their friendship with Summer and her family.

This year, Summer is having a bad time attempting to dispel nightmares and flashbacks about the death of her father in a van accident, which she escaped.

Together the two friends enter The Land of the Children of the Known via a cave mouth. Summer is drawn to this strange land where no one dies and all forget their sorrows. It is a beautiful land—of so it seems. However, Summer resists the temptation to stay when she realizes that nothing is without its price. The children do not die but they also do not experience the joys and exhilaration of growing up. Through their adventure, Summer and Orin come to realize that the pains and sorrows of life are necessary if one is to have the successes and happiness.

This interesting and realistic narrative is full of excellent vocabulary and figurative language. The plot—while a fantasy—is credible and suspenseful for any student between ten and thirteen. It is definitely intended for the more able junior reader. As a story it is exciting end fast paced. As a teaching tool, it is an ideal way to explore the various characteristics of fantasy as a literary genre.

The characters are well developed and will have wide appeal for both male and female readers. The better readers will appreciate the vocabulary and the subtle use of humour in the dialogue. Teachers using this book as part of an individualized reading program or a novel study will be delighted with the references to Canadian places and to the metric system. They will find it useful for exploring the death of a loved one from a child's point of view and the question of what is real.

Gail K. Lennon, Lambton County Board of Education, Sarnia, Ont.
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