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Edward Cloney
Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1991. 163pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-868-5 (paper) $11.95, ISBN 0-88750-867-7 (cloth) $23.95.

Grades 7 and up/Ages 12 and up

Reviewed by Pat Bolger.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Life in a tiny Nova Scotia village is dull and lonely for eleven-year-old Danny, an orphan whose grandmother fears he will fall victim to the wander­lust that is "the weakness" of the male O'Briens. The arrival of his cousin Matthew from Toronto, however, fills the summer of 1961 with adventures that include a successful scheme to steal a poster of Yule Brynner from the abandoned movie theatre, the expansion of their secret club (from two members to three), and an expedition to Pugwash to secure as honorary member the space pioneer Yuri Gagarin, a visitor at Cyrus Eaton's estate.

Young readers will find Danny and Matthew good company, and the adults are well drawn: the grandmother whose toughness is exceeded only by her love; the hump-backed dwarf who balances Matthew's wildness; and their raging, senile grandfather. The less believable incidents, such as their escape from the Pugwash jail, are anchored in reality by simpler events that have a definite autobiographical feeling.

Recommended for school and public libraries as an exciting novel that has much to say about responsibility, duty and love, it will remind readers - justifiably - of Huckleberry Finn. It is well worth the effort that librarians will have to expend to sell it to young readers, since Oberon has chosen cover art unattractive enough to discourage even adult readers, who would enjoy its nostalgic evocation of childhood in a simpler time.

Pat Bolger, Renfrew, Ont.
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