________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 12. . . .November 21, 2014


Honeycomb. (Orca Limelights).

Patricia McCowan.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2014.
145 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $10.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0579-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0580-4 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0581-1 (epub).

Grades 6-10 / Ages 11-15.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Jess plays the guitar solo in the middle of the song and I snap myself back to attention. I can’t quite hear where I fit in the mix. I try coming in for the last verse at least, but stop when my harmonies wobble. Harper and Jess continue without me, their heads bobbing in time.

When they finish, Jess says, “Pretty good.”

Harper hoots, “Pretty good? Darrell has to love this. We’ll slay him with our chops.”

Jess looks skeptical. “Our chops?”

Harper gives her a friendly little push. “Come on. You know what I mean.”

“That can be our band name,” I say. “Slayed with Chops.” I do some cheesy air guitar, hoping no one mentions my off-pitch harmony.

Jess laughs. “Uh, you keep working on that, Nat.”

“Songs first, band name later,” Harper says. “Let’s go again. We need to break down the parts.”

We set to work. A real trio. Finally.


When a trio of Winnipeg girls are discovered at a summer music camp, they try to put their differences aside so they can record a CD and compete in the Tall Grass Music Festival. Fifteen-year-old Jess is the guitarist and best friends with alto singer Nat. Harper is the newcomer to the group and one year older. Nat lacks the confidence and experience that lead singer Harper has, but when their mentor Darrell puts her on lead vocals, Harper sabotages the group’s performance. Although the girls are talented and can perform well together, they need to put their jealousies aside and harmonize as a band. The story takes place over one summer. When the band isn’t rehearsing in Harper’s grandma’s music room, they are exploring relationships outside of the band with new friends and music teachers. A banjo player named Gabe comes between Jess and Nat, but only until they learn the reason he was spending time with both of them. Nat’s family appears briefly in the story. Unlike Harper, Nat grew up with a family that wasn’t supportive of her dreams. They prefer to focus on her brother’s hockey career. However, after Nat’s chosen to compete in the music festival, her mom shows her support by attending the festival. Readers who are in the Performing Arts will empathize with the trio’s struggles and accomplishments. With practice, the girls learn how to sing together, how to breathe properly, and how to perform under pressure. Words are forgotten, band members arrive late, and say hurtful things to one another, but, by focusing on the music and the band’s goals, the girls gain more than they could have imagined. Nat realizes she has multiple talents (singing and whistling). Jess expands her knowledge of the guitar and Harper proves she is a natural entertainer. Together, or alone, they will have successful careers in the music business.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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