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Joan Finnigan. Illustrated by Steve Beinicke.
Toronto, ON: Douglas and McIntyre, 1989.
30pp., cloth, $12.95.
ISBN 0-88899-057-X. A Groundwood Book. CIP.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9

Reviewed by Pearl Herscovitch.

Volume 18 Number 1
1990 January

Joan Finnigan has used her experience as a writer of Ottawa valley folklore to write a contemporary picture-book. Integrating elements of folklore into the story, she has composed a yarn about a dog named Clementine and her owners, Amaryllis and Thaddeus. As owners of an outdoor equipment shop and an outdoor pursuits school, Thaddeus and Amaryllis canoe, kayak and hike their way through Canada's wilderness with Clementine, who hides in the trunk and chases the car to ensure she doesn't get left behind. She becomes the first dog to go down the Nahanni and see the Seven Wonders of the World. However, the story takes an abrupt turn when Thaddeus and Amaryllis have a baby. Feeling neglected, Clementine runs away from home but returns to a warm welcome and the assurance that she is well loved. The ending reveals Clementine living out her days as a "stay at home dog" guarding her owners' growing family and becoming the neighbourhood story-teller.

Finnigan has combined factual geographical information with Clementine's fantastic exploits, an approach typical of some of the tales retold in her previous publications, but in this instance her writing style seems entirely inappropriate for the picture-book audience. The humorous asides and lengthy text lessen the book's appeal for children. The cartoon-like illustrations seem to belittle the text rather than complement it, but the story itself has potential and might come to life in the hands of a good story-teller.

Pearl Herscovitch, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
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