________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 11 . . . . February 3, 2006


Spoiled Rotten. (Orca Currents).

Dayle Campbell Gaetz.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2005.
103 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-55143-474-1.

Subject Headings:
Fathers and daughters - Juvenile fiction.
Stepfathers - Juvenile fiction.
Wildernes survival - Juvenile fiction.

Grades 6-10 / Ages 11-15.

Review by Liz Greenaway.

*** /4


"Did I hear something about a lake?" Patti asked.


Dad nodded. "Jessica and I might go exploring."

"What about me?" Amy whined."

This is just between me and my father," I told her. I looked to Dad to confirm it. What I saw did not make me feel good. He looked from Amy to me to Patti with a lost expression on his face. Finally Patti spoke. "Amy," she said, "Jessica and her father are used to going on overnight hikes together. I think they'd like to get away alone."

"That's not fair!" Her whining got louder; she was working on a tear.

"Look, Amy!" Patti said crossly. "You don't think anything is fair unless it is your idea. Besides, you could never keep with the two of them on a hike."

"I want to go, " Amy said stubbornly.

Dad put his hand over Patti's. "Maybe we shouldn't go just now.

"No! I cried inside. Don't take this away from me!

"Anyway," my father continued, "I hate to leave you two alone on the boat."

"We'll be fine, " Patti told him. "What could happen?"

"Well..." Dad looked back up the mountain. "I don't know."

Please Dad! I kept saying in my head. Please! Maybe I should have said it out loud. Instead, I gave him the look.

Amy whimpered. Her lower lip trembled.

"I'd be so-oo scared, " she said. And there it was, one big sloppy tear. This kid should be in movies.

"I'll tell you what," Dad turned to me. "Why don't you and I just take a day hike? You know, get up early tomorrow morning, pack a lunch and see how far we can get?

I shrugged. "Sure Dad, whatever."

Amy smiled.

Tears, two. The look, no score.


Spoiled Rotten is one of three new “Orca Currents” titles aimed at middle school reluctant readers. In Spoiled Rotten, Jessica is reeling from the changes in her life: the death of her mother a couple of years ago and the recent remarriage of her father to Patti, who comes with stepsister Amy. Author Dayle Campbell Gaetz does an excellent job of alluding to all the struggles the characters of this newly blended family are facing without any moralizing or making any of it seem like the topic of a movie of the week. Jessica feels she's lost her mother and now is losing her father to this dramatic manipulative stepsister who seems to want everything that is Jessica’s.

     When her father won't leave his new wife and stepdaughter to hike with Jessica, Jessica tries to salvage what is usually a private holiday with her father by sneaking off alone to investigate a lake, but stepsister Amy follows her. While Amy keeps up on the grueling hike, Amy is hurt and Jessica is forced to leave her alone while she goes for help in bear country. The conclusion is dramatic, but not overly so, and the emotional resolution rings very true.

     Spoiled Rotten is an excellent action-packed read that would work well as a read for a reluctant reader. It takes its place alongside the other excellent titles in this series.

Highly Recommended.

Liz Greenaway, a former bookseller, lives and works in Edmonton, AB.


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

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