________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 18 . . . . April 27, 2007


Racing for Diamonds. (Orca Young Readers).

Anita Daher.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2007.
113 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 978-1-55143-675-3.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Brianne Grant.

*** /4


Jaz looked over her shoulder. Colly was standing up straight and stiff on the sled, as if he had a board up the inside of his parka. He looked cold and angry.

“We will be met,” Gunther said.

“Where?” Colly snapped. It sounded as if there was something more he wanted to say, but he held back. Barely.

“Take it easy, Colly,” Jaz said. She looked back and forth between Gunther and Colly, her stomach tightening.

Despite the bite of cold and fear, this didn’t feel real. What had happened to the nice man who smiled and gave her strudel? If she could only get him to talk, maybe they could find a way out of this. Maybe whatever happened could be fixed. She had to give it a shot.

The call of the wild has infected Jaz, a 12-year-old girl who is thrilled to be a part of the Junior Canadian Rangers in Racing for Diamonds, by Anita Daher. Although she is reluctant to listen to Colly, her partner who also outranks her, Jaz is more than eager to learn everything to do with being a JCR. Her parents have recently divorced, but she loves her new home in the small and distant town of Destiny with her dad. Jaz feels content with her new living arrangements; however, she is bothered by the fighting between her parents and their distrust of her abilities in a wild environment. By racing and winning the JCR derby on the Canol Trail, she hopes to prove to her parents that she can take care of herself and stop their incessant arguing.

     Unfortunately, while Colly and Jaz are making their way on the trail, their plans are greatly altered by a run-in with Gunther. Instinctively, Jaz believes that Gunther does not mean to harm them, although he is taking them against their will by gunpoint. She remembers Gunther as a sweet man, and a delicious baker. As a diamond mine worker, Gunther is being extorted by rogue friends who forced him to mark blood diamonds with the Canadian diamond mark. Gunther was in a snowmobile accident in the middle of the wilderness before he could deliver the altered goods to the Russian mob at Blue Mountain. He needs the two JCR’s and their sled team to take him there by the next day. Jaz and Colly are in the middle of a very complicated and intensely political conflict, but as JCR’s they are prepared to do what is right and to help Gunther. This grandiose plot is undertaken through the gentle and determined eyes of Jaz, who still bickers with Colly and who ultimately sees the world before her with the sensibility of a child.

     Racing for Diamonds is a light adventure that moves swiftly through a clearly defined plot. Daher reveals a beautiful and exciting place where great adventure can be discovered even without the Russian mob, blood diamonds and a desperate man.


Brianne Grant is a student in the Master of Arts in Children's Literature at the University of British Columbia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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