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Ken Roberts
Toronto, Groundwood Books/Douglas & Mclntyre, 1991. 96pp, galley, $6.95
ISBN 0-88899-137-1. CIP

Grades 3 to 5/Ages 8 to 10

Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Nothing Wright joins Roberts' Crazy Ideas, Hiccup Champion of the World (Douglas & Mclntyre, 1988) and Pop Bottled in providing children in grades 3 to 5 with fast-paced, light, humorous reading. Fifth grader Noel "Nothing" Wright of Whitby, Ontario, seems to be plagued by streaks of bad luck. For example, Noel can never get up on time because alarm clocks simply will not function in his room.

Noel's sixth grade brother Sam, deciding to capitalize on Noel's "gift/ curse," bets classmate Emma Shipworth, a lover of facts, that their homeward bound school bus will encounter traffic control signals only during their red phase. Mathematical whiz Emma, having calculated the probability of such an event occurring but not know­ing that Nothing's presence on the bus "guarantees" rod lights, takes the bet.

When the bus meets fifteen consecu­tive stop lights, Emma loses the wager, but she decides to study Nothing to discover his unlucky streaks' cause and cure. While Sam dislikes having "obnoxious" Emma always tagging along, Nothing, who has had a crush on Emma since the second grade, is delighted.

Roberts populates the book with a number of humorous characters includ­ing biker-barber Bud and the brothers' extraordinarily parsimonious Aunt Louise. Such individuals are, appropri­ately, more caricatures than real charac­ters. Following a series of amusing incidents, a final Sam-Emma wager requires Emma to solve Nothing's bad luck within a week or to stay away from Nothing forever. Up to the challenge. Emma, in the book's closing chapter, melodramatically reveals Sam's unwit­ting role in changing Nothing's luck.

Dave Jenkinson, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Man.
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