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Hearn, Emily
Illustrated by Yvonne Cathcart
Toronto, Second Story Press, 1993. 32pp,
paper, $5.95, ISBN 0-929005-4 4-9. CIP

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10

Reviewed by Jane Robinson

Volume 22 Number 1
1994 January / February

Unfortunately, readers do often judge a book by its cover, and this book does not present well from the beginning. The dimensions are not "standard" paperback, and it's too large and thin for readers in grade 3 to 5 who are looking for the typical paperback novel. The cover shows an old-fashioned-looking girl, younger than most of the intended audience, lying on a bed with an open book. The effect does nothing to pique prospective readers' interest or capture their attention.

Told retrospectively by the narrator herself, the story begins when she is struggling in school. Unable to read, Janey concentrates on her imaginative story-telling ability. She finds a receptive audience and a special friend in the family's boarder, Hattie Pearl. With Hattie's help, Janey becomes a successful reader and discovers her stories can bring new-found enjoyment in book form as well. And so begins her chosen path as a writer...

The "old-fashioned" mood of the book, consistent in the narrative style and the simplicity of the black-and-white drawings, is appropriate to the period circa 1940. But the effect is dated without being historically interesting, and is too immature for the target audience.

It's not clear whether the story actually reflects experienced children's writer Emily Hearn's own life. The explanation at the end of the book telling how school children exchange stories with the narrator via computer does parallel Hearn's own situation, at least in Scarborough, Ontario. While this provides readers with an excellent opportunity for individual or classroom writing and computer projects, by then it's a case of too little, too late.

Hattie Pearl Click Click is not interesting or attractive enough to have wide-ranging appeal across the intended audience's equally wide range of age and interests.

Jane Robinson is a former teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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