CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Produced by Christine Kavanagh' directed by Dan Moscrip
Screen Star Entertainment in association with Looking Glass Productions, 1991. VHS cassette, 11:00 min., 10:00 min. and 10:00 min. respectively, $99.00
Distrib­uted by Magic Lantern Communica­tions, Unit #38,775 Pacific Rd., Oakville, Ont. L6L 6M4

Grades 5 to 8/Ages 10 to 13

Reviewed by Ann Pagan.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Eric Wilson has written (and contin­ues to write) a series of mysteries featuring a pair of young detectives, Tom and Liz Austen. His stories use well-known Canadian localities as their settings. Most of Wilson's readers are either familiar with, or have at least heard of, these locations and this is part of the reason for the popularity of his books.

The video series, consisting of approximately 10-minute segments, features three provinces as backgrounds for Wilson mysteries. In A Mystery Writer's Nova Scotia, for instance, the author describes a little of the province's history and people and ties this in with legends and superstitions he has discovered in his travels there. All this becomes background for his novel, The Ghost of Lunenburg Manor. He gives viewers an idea of the process a writer goes through to make a story interesting and believable to his reader.

The cinematography is outstanding: some magnificent footage of the wild horses on Sable Island and the Bluenose riding the waves adds interest to the video. A brief dramatic sequence from the novel is designed to lead the viewer into reading this story.

Just as beautifully filmed, but less successfully presented, is the second segment, A Mystery Writer's Prince Edward Island. The potential of the subject matter is here since Wilson is describing his research for The Green Gables Detectives mystery. Is there a Canadian student who has not heard of Anne of Green Gables? Yet the narration and interviews seem more directed to adult viewers. For instance, a Japanese tourist is interviewed about her love of Anne of Green Gables. But her almost incomprehensible English will test the patience of young viewers. Furthermore, too much time is spent showing and discussing Montgomery's original manuscript and scrapbook. I feel that better use could have been made of ten minutes about PEI.

The last segment is A Mystery Writer's Newfoundland. Eric Wilson's description of the research that went into his novel The Ice Diamond Quest is presented in an interesting fashion. There is footage of Terry Fox's run, which began in Newfoundland and with which almost every student is familiar, as well as some fascinating original film of old-time sealers. There is some meat for discussion in this segment.

Technically, the quality of the video is excellent. The background music is appropriate and not intrusive. The dialogue is clear and age-level appropri­ate. The re-enactments at the end of each segment may not be professionally produced, but will probably be enjoyed by the viewers and whet their appetite for the books.

The purpose of the video is to give readers some background to Wilson's stories, and for those who are not familiar with his work, an incentive to read his books. I think the video will be moderately successful in achieving this goal. Although the narration lacks some verve, I think students and teachers will find merit in this video. The author does not impart the same charisma that Gordon Korman achieved in his video ("Meet the Author" series)/ but the film's other qualities make this a worthwhile purchase for school and public libraries collecting Canadian material.

Ann Pagan, Mackay Center/Woodland School, Montreal, Que.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copyright information for reviewers

francaisDigital Collections / Collections Numérisees francais