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Budge Wilson
Illustrated by Etta Moffatt

Halifax, Nimbus, 1990. 48pp, paper, $4.95
ISBN 0-921054-38-6. CIP

Grades 1 to 3/Ages 6 to 8
Reviewed by Catherine McInerney.

Volume 19 Number 5
1991 October

This short novel was written by Budge Wilson, author of The Best/Worst Christmas Present Ever, which was chosen as one of Emergency Librarian's Best Canadian Paperbacks of 1986.

Wilson has also produced many other fine examples of fiction, both children's and adults. However, this book gets a mixed review. Although it is listed as a choice by the Canadian Children's Book Centre in Our Choice 1990, I feel that the book is nondescript and bland. Nothing is really wrong with it, but then nothing is great, either.

In the book a young overweight boy, Ramsay, makes friends with an elderly lady, Madame Belzile. Other characters in the story are sketchily drawn, such as Ramsay's business people parents and classmates. The book also stereotypes: when the Hitherton-Hobbs family arrives, Madame Belzile can tell at a glance that they are not francophone because "they were far too serious, much too quiet, and there were no smiles."

The novel is very short, and vocabu­lary (other than the occasional French phrase) not very difficult. The illustra­tions by Etta Moffatt are done in a cartoon style.

The book relies on convenient coincidences to form its plot. It is fortunate that Madame Belzile is Quebecois, since Ramsay needs help in learning French. Also, while his time is over for French lessons, Madame is able to put him on a diet. Ramsay loses weight as Madame fills out; by book's end both are "perfect."

This book would be a light read for the avid reader. It might also be used as a springboard for a discussion of friendship.

Catherine McInerney, London, Ont.
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