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Frank O'Keefe.
Don Mills, ON: General Paperbacks, 1991.
132pp., paper, $5.95.
ISBN 0-7736-7295-8. CIP.

Grades 7-8 / Ages 12-13

Reviewed by Theo Hersh.

Volume 19 Number 4
1991 September

Heatherbank, a fictitious Alberta small town located on the highway between Edmonton and Calgary, is about to lose its school and mill. While Robbie and his friends think "School stinks," they would rather go to school in their home town than be bussed one hour to Maplecrest.

At first the grown-ups try to stop the board from closing the school, but they fail. Robbie finds himself allied with Spider, his best friend, and Mona - "Mad Mona" - the community outcast, in a crazy plan to save the school. Their adventures include a drive to Calgary in a car "borrowed" from Robbie's dad's used car lot, with fourteen-year-old Robbie at the wheel, and their trying to see an eccentric millionaire businessman, James Brokefsky, who uses Tarot cards in his decision-making.

This superficial young adult novel touches on a theme that is relevant today. Small towns in every province are being threatened with extinction as factories and mines permanently shut down. The effects are devastating for the population. The novel glosses over this tragic situation.

The characterization in School Stinks! is weak. Even main character Robbie remains one-dimensional. Relationships ring hollow and the dialogue is embarrassingly trite. In short, this is a story without depth. It is a readable book, one that a pre-teen might take to camp or on a trip simply to pass the time.

Theo Hersh, Toronto Public Library, Toronto ON.
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