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Brenda Bellingham.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic-TAB, 1990.
129pp., paper, $3.95.
ISBN 0-590-73296-X. CIP.

Grades 5-6 / Ages 10-11

Reviewed by Theo Hersh.

Volume 18 Number 4
1990 July

Thirteen-year-old Katy Martin, attending an auction with her father and stepmother Vivian, is attracted to an antique silver box. Vivian outbids a strange-looking man for the box. An even stranger-looking boy drops a note in Vivian's lap with the message: "Cursed be ye who keep this box from its rightful owner. Thee and thine shall suffer and perish."

Katy's family makes light of the curse, but Katy is not so sure they should ignore it, especially when a series of mishaps occur.

This fast-paced novel has an exceptionally promising beginning. It is flawed, however. Throughout the story there is a debate among the characters: belief in the power of the curse versus a rational explanation of the harmful occurrences. The vacillation between the two points of view seriously mars the story. The ending suffers, in particular, as the mystery is logically explained away. It is as if Bellingham has sent her readers on a wild goose chase in the same way Simon, the strange boy, leads Katy down a dead end. The conclusion goes nowhere.

On a positive note, one of the appealing aspects of the novel is the family relationships. Katy's divorced parents, both remarried, are still caring friends. The caring extends to Katy and her sister Jenny and to the new spouses, too.

All things considered, this is an imperfect light read, which will have a certain appeal to children in grades 5 to 7.

Theo Hersh, Toronto Public Library, Toronto, ON.
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