________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 10 . . . . January 18, 2002

cover The Secret of Sagawa Lake. (Sam, Dog Detectives, v. 6).

Mary Labatt.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2001.
118 pp., pbk. & cl., $4.95 (pbk.), 16.95(cl.).
ISBN 1-55074-889-0 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55074-887-4 (cl.).

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Gillian Noonan.

** 1/2/4


"We are not talking about mysteries, Sam." Jennie was firm. "There's nothing up here but woods, so how could there be a mystery?"

That old guy was hinting about something.

"He was teasing us because we're tourists."

No he wasn't. He was giving us clues.

"There are no clues!" Jennie sat up and bumped her head on the top bunk.

Beth leaned over the edge and looked down into Jennie' bunk. "Sam's talking about what Henry said, isn't she?"

"Yeah. She thinks he was giving us clues to a mystery," Jennie muttered.

Sam, the sheepdog sleuth, is on the case again. In this latest book by Mary Labatt, Sam and his human friends, Jennie and Beth, are on holiday at an old cabin on Sagawa Lake. Sam expects that the holiday will be a bore as what kind of mystery would you find in a forest. Of course, Sam is wrong. Jennie and Beth discover an old journal which has been hidden in their bedroom wall, and its contents lead them to believe that "evil lurks" in the lake. When they set out to find the evil, a mystery unfolds. The girls are helped in solving the mystery by Sam because Jennie is able to understand the dog's thoughts. The reader's attention is aroused quickly in the book, but the mystery is easily understood before the characters have a chance to solve it. The significance of the journal is not completely developed by Labatt. Its origins, its story and how it got in the wall could have been more of a mystery than the mysterious lights in the lake. If readers were acquainted with other titles in the "Sam, Dog Detective" series prior to reading this volume, the transitions between the narrative and the dog's thoughts (which are written in italic) may have proven easier to understand. This reader found the transitions choppy at times, a situation which made the switch between the narrative and the dog's thoughts difficult to follow. For children who enjoy animals with human abilities in their stories, The Secret of Sagawa Lake may be a suitable novel. It is an easy read but a weak mystery.

Recommended with reservations.

Gillian Martin Noonan is a teacher living in Old Perlican, NF.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364