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Betty Waterton
Toronto, Groundwood Books/ Douglas & McIntyre, 1994.
85pp, paper, $5.95, ISBN 0-88899-199-1. CIP

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11

Reviewed by B. Henley

Volume 22 Number 4
1994 September

Betty Waterton has written dozens of children's books, including several starring Quincy Rumpel and her eccentric family. In this particular story  Quincy Rumpel and the Mystifying Experience, readers travel with the Rumpels to Toronto and Niagara Falls as they go to visit their Aunt Fan and Grams, their great-grandmother. Grams is turning ninety-one and they want to surpise her for her birthday.

Each of the children in Quincy's family looks forward to many of the tourist attractions: Leah desperately wants to sleep in a heart-shaped bed in Niagara Falls, Morris is dying to see the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Kip would like to take in a ball game at the Sky Dome, and Quincy is interested in the Maid of the Mist boat ride at Niagara Falls.

The family sets off on its adventure, which turns into a series of misadventures, as they desperately try to find Grams. Their journey takes them to Lake Wannabanna, where they mistakenly enter the wrong cottage in looking for Aunt Fan's. Caught playing in the whirlpool in their bathing suits, they then realize what the reader has already guessed--Aunt Fan's cottage is the purple one with the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs figurines out front. From here they travel in their wet bathing suits to Aunt Fan's condo at Harbourfront. Everyone tries to guess where Grams could have gone with her eighty-nine-year-old boyfriend in his yellow convertible.

Quincy solves the mystery from a series of mystifying clues, and, finally, the whole family is together at Niagara Falls.

This book's good qualities include the mention and description of several of southern Ontario's tourist attractions. Young readers who have not been to Niagara Falls, for example, will look forward to seeing it, based on Waterton's, highlights. As well, some children will enjoy the unusual Rumpel characters, especially if they've met and enjoyed them in other books of this series. Many children enjoy " mysteries" and might enjoy deciphering the clues Quincy finds.

I believe, however, that for most readers, the book promises more than it delivers. The characters are eccentric to the point that they take over the story, the clues are far-fetched and simply too hard to believe, and the ending is disappointing.

Because of these reasons I would recommend  Quincy Rumpel and the Mystifying Experience as an optional purchase only.

B. Henley is head librarian at Brantford Collegiate Institute in Brantford, Ontario

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