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Peter Desbarats. Illustrated by Victor Gad.
Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1985.
60pp., paperbound boards, $14.95.
ISBN 0-7710-2683-8. CIP.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11

Reviewed by Anna L. Holman.

Volume 14 Number 2
1986 March

Peter Desbarats, well-known author, journalist, and broadcaster, is currently Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of Western Ontario. He has written two other books for children, Gabrielle and Selena (Scholastic, 1968) and The Night the City Sang ¹. Colin and the Computer is a topical book for children of the computer age. Colin is a lonely eight-year-old. His father is away on business trips most of the time and his mother has a full-time job that she feels she is about to lose because the office is going to be computerized. Colin's best friend has recently moved to another part of the city. In his loneliness, Colin spends more and more time in the basement of his home, programming the computer to remember "everything he had done or wished he had done." He becomes so obsessed by the machine that he neglects his schoolwork. Soon he discovers that he can make contact, through a vast network of other computers, with people in distant places. The result is an alarming increase in his parents' telephone bill. This fact, coupled with complaints from his teacher, finally alert his parents to the seriousness of Colin's addiction to the computer. The story ends happily with the family brought closer together and with Colin's mother gladly accepting her son's offer to show her how to use the computer.

In simple, incisive prose, the author deals sensitively with the problems of loneliness and family relationships. The mood of the story is established at the beginning of the book. The description of Colin's ride home in the school bus during a blizzard and his struggle through to his empty house enhance the feeling of Colin's isolation and of some mysterious and rather threatening presence. Victor Gad's appealing black-and-white illustrations contribute to the atmosphere of this enchanting story for young readers.

Highly recommended.

Anna L. Holman, Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario, London, ON.

¹ Reviewed vol. Vl/2 Spring 1978, p.l02.

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