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Paul Kropp.
Richmond Hill, ON: Scholastic-TAB, 1986.
112pp., paper, $3.50.
ISBN 0-590-71675-1. CIP.

Subject Heading:

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11

Reviewed by Brenda Watson.

Volume 15 Number 2
1987 March

Paul Kropp has written many hi / lo novels for adolescents. This novel is aimed at a younger audience and is not part of a hi / lo series. However, it uses the same fast-action, high-interest formula combined with an easy-to-read vocabulary .

Jason, a reliable ten-and-a-half-year-old, and Justin, an inquisitive six-yea-old, have a new babysitter, Fred. Fred is the current project of the boys' father, a high school teacher. Against Mother's objections, Fred, an awkward-looking fellow who lives with an uncaring brother on the wrong side of the tracks, becomes the boys' regular sitter. Fred has a dilapidated truck he uses to haul manure and an enemy called "Beefy." Both the truck and Beefy become part of the madcap adventures of Justin,Jay-Jay, and Fred.

This reviewer sides with the boys' mother. Fred is an irresponsible babysitter and the escapades he and the boys have are unbelievable. The humour that might have redeemed the incredible plot is old hat and stale. The truck smells like "poo," Fred has a fake fainting spell to avoid paying at a burger joint, and Fred 's big offence against Beefy was rigging a toilet to give him a "bumwash."

The characters are stereotyped and all but static, from the smart-mouthed six-year-old to the little professor older brother. Fred does not mature except to admit that he is irresponsible, and to hand the babysitting over to Jason. The issues of Fred's poverty and near homelessness are never addressed. A real affection does develop between the boys and Fred. Justin and Jason recognize the person behind the odd exterior. However, this development is negated by the inanity that accompanies it. There is better humour for children to read.

Not recommended.

Brenda Watson, Dunsmuir J.S.S., Victoria, BC.
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