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Woodbury, Mary
Richmond Hill (Ont.), Scholastic Canada, 1992. 148pp, paper, $3.95, ISBN 0-590-74047-4. CIP

Grades 4 to 6/Ages 9 to 11

Reviewed by Carol Carver

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September

It is 1956 and thirteen-year-old Sara is excited at the prospect of spending three months with her feisty Gaelic-quoting grandmother Maggie in her huge boarding house on Toronto's Centre Island. Sara's job is to keep an eye on her beloved grandmother following her grandmother's heart attack, while her mother cares for a new baby in town and her father, a teacher, takes classes in Montreal.

During the course of the summer, Sara, with the help of her friend Billy, is involved in the Save the Island movement, snoops on looters, plans secretly to give Maggie her annual visit to the Canadian National Exhibition, and embarks on her first romance. When Maggie dies, Sara blames herself for promoting the trip to the CNE. Sara learns to face trouble rather than run away and to "let go" of her childhood, of the Island as it used to be, and of her guilt over her grandmother's death.

The novel is peopled with interesting characters: Sara's strict mother, the grouchy neighbour, Mr. Quantz, crusty Captain Joe, and Grandma Pitts, who humorously mangles long words. Sara and her concerns are treated sympathetically and the plot moves along quickly with subtle foreshadowing. However, the insipid cover and occasional anachronisms bikinis, locked bikes, and the anti-nuclear cause detract from the pleasure.

Recommended. Will appeal to young girls and readers familiar with the Toronto Islands.

Carol Carver is a Primary teacher at Dieppe School in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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