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Arthur Mayse

Madeira Park (B.C.), Harbour Publish­ing, 1990. 152pp, paper, $12.95
ISBN 1-55917-025-2. CIP

Grades 5 and 6/Ages 10 and 11
Reviewed by Joan Skogan.

Volume 19 Number 2
1991 March

Handliner's Island, set on the B.C. coast in 1946, is the story of thirteen-year-old Paddy Logan's summer spent learning to handline salmon commer­cially. Patty needs $800.00 to save his grandfather's island ranch from bank foreclosure, and his problems include his inability to "think like a salmon," as well a couple of tough creek robbers who threaten him and his "Kwakiutl Indian friend, George Mayus Simon." He triumphs eventually, with some help from a red-headed girl his own age who knows what she's doing:

"You have to read the underwater as well as the surface," his teacher told him. She reached for her long and limber bamboo pole where it wagged over the carvel's stern. "This water's going around in a big circle." Paddy reached (or his handline winder, but Lynn's sharp "No!" checked him.

Arthur Mayse's home territory near the waters of Seymour Narrows and around Quathiaski Cove (given differ­ent names here) and the sea and fishing details are well handled:

Paddy moved up to the nose of his skiff. There he knelt in precarious balance, peering down with the rake balanced across his palms. Almost at once, his eye caught the shimmer­ing undulations of schooled herring. He was about to lower his rake when, on the edges of the school below it, he saw other, very much larger fish-shapes. He realized those long, lazily gliding shadows were coho salmon. They were herding the herring school along like so many border collies shepherding a batch of woolies.

Handliner's Island's theme of a young boy struggling with clearly presented physical difficulties contains no sur­prises, and will likely satisfy some readers with its familiarity. But the story contains a few oddly unresolved intrusions: Paddy's grandfather's point of view is presented early in the book and never again; the boys camp on an island which is an old Kwakiutl burial ground, then, although much is made of their fear and uneasiness, nothing comes of it.

Nola Johnston provides black-and-white drawings and an attractively stylized colour cover.

Joan Skogan, Vancouver, B.C.
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