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Sikundar, Sylvia
Waterloo (Que.), Quintin Publishers, 1994. 148pp, paper, $5.95
ISBN 2-89435-012-0. (Nature Library). CIP

Grades 6-8/ Ages 11-13

Reviewed by Margaret Mackey

Volume 22 Number 6
1994 November / December

Jason, now fifteen, grew up in Africa but moved back to Canada. On a visit to his brother, Wayne, who is working as a park ranger in their former home, he has a chance to meet old friends.

But times are hard: there is drought, and the (unspecified) country is poor. Desperate villagers are turning to poaching big game animals. Wayne investigates these crimes and suspicion falls on Kyondo, the father of Jason's childhood friend, Peter. Kyondo has always regarded Jason as another son and Jason is very reluctant to believe the worst of him.

Sikundar is careful to be balanced in her account of the evils of poaching and the claims of starving humans. Unfortunately, the complexity of her moral analysis is not matched by any equivalent subtlety in plot and characterization. Plot developments (some more plausible than others) are telegraphed well in advance and none of the characters is really vivid.

It is good to see Canadian books looking at important global questions, but it would be better if they tackled this challenge by means of more powerful stories than this one. The African setting is drawn carefully and affectionately, the issues are explored sensitively, but the story never really makes it off the page.

Margaret Mackey is a Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta.

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