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Blakeslee, Mary
Toronto, General Paperbacks, 1991. 141pp, paper, $5.95
ISBN 07736-7321-0. (Junior Gemini series). CIP

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11

Reviewed by Catherine McInerney

Volume 20 Number 3
May 1992

Mary Blakeslee, author of Ida Mae Evans Eats Ants 1 and many other successful children's and young adult books, has written a high interest/low vocabulary series about a gang of children known as the Lemon Street gang. While there is nothing wrong with the idea of the series, there is nothing to particularly recommend this title, either.

The characters are rather shallow and stereotypical-- characterization can be completed in a single paragraph. For those unfamiliar with the other books in the series, the first two pages are very confusing and fast paced as the author, in an attempt to get the story up and moving neglects to fill in any background detail for the first-time reader.

The plot is oversimplified as well. The gang members spend a week of their vacation at a mall (which is a thinly disguised West Edmonton Mall). While there they meet a boy who turns out to be an unhappy rich girl whose parents have divorced. She is living in the mall. However, she seems awfully easy for the boys to locate a second time, and unusually hard for security people to find Penny, the runaway, has left home because of her evil stepfather, Tony. The girl's allegations of abuse are not taken seriously by any of the characters in the book. It is only when Tony is going to sabotage one of the rides at the mall that the Lemon Street gang goes into action to protect Penny from her stepfather.

Although all these kids manage to elude Security after the mall has closed, Penny coincidentally runs into Tony at the amusement park. Since she has a fear of heights, he leaves her at the top of the death drop ride, and arranges the machinery so that when the power comes on at the mall's opening in the morning the ride will crash and kill Penny

Fortunately, one of the boys is able to make a heroic rescue a moment before the elevator crashes to the ground. Tony is put in prison, and Penny is returned to her mother's custody.

This novel would make good light reading, or a good novel to assign to a reader reading well behind grade level.

Catherine McInerney, London, Ont.

1. Reviewed vol. XVIII/6 November 1990.

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