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Dowd, John
Vancouver, Raincoast Books, 1992. 126pp, cloth, $16.95, ISBN 0-920417-15-9. CIP

Grades 4 to 7 / Ages 9 to 12

Reviewed by Jennifer Johnson

Volume 21 Number 1
1993 January

Dylan Jackson and his family are "urban refugees" who move from West Vancouver to a 50-acre farm 20 miles from the nearest town.

Within hours of their arrival they find that the previous owner has given right of access to a logging company, which intends to clear-cut the valley. A confrontation, which involves the Jackson family, environmentalists, members of the local Sassqui Band Council, and the loggers, ensues. Dylan and his new friends become part of the struggle when they take an historic Raven mask from the reserve and perform a ritual dance in "The Circle of Tall Trees."

In Ring of Tall Trees, John Dowd has created an exciting, accessible story that combines strong characterization with action and awareness of current issues. The book deftly handles the complexities of forest preservation versus the realities of the forest industry.

As a newcomer to the area, Dylan finds himself caught in the middle in a personal way, as his two new friends are the son of a logger (Nicholas) and a Sassqui (Jake). Jake and Dylan reach out spiritually to resolve the conflict by calling on Raven to make mischief for the loggers. Dowd handles this element well and creates a sense of mystery that complements the images of bulldozers and flatbed trucks.

The conclusion of the book is too hurried and the solutions, though happy, are somewhat unrealistic, but these are small points in the face of such a satisfying read.

Jennifer Johnson is a public librarian in Ottawa, Ontario
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