CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 12 . . . . February 17, 2006
Tunnels of Time: A Moose Jaw Adventure.
Mary Harelkin Bishop.
Regina, SK : Coteau Books, 2000.
262 pp., pbk, $7.95.
Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.
Review by Tanya Boudreau.
“Quiet, kid,” a rough voice spoke in her ear. “We don't want the whole town to know that we're down here!” Andrea nodded and the hand slowly slipped from her face.
Andrea sagged against the dirt side of the tunnel, willing her jelly knees to work again. She still couldn't see a thing, but she knew Old Scarface was very near. She could hear his rapid breathing, feel his moist, cigar-tainted breath on her face. “Wind just blew out the lanterns, kid.” Scarface explained, almost gently. “Happens all the time down here. You''ll get used to it.”
She heard the sound of a scrape and a flare of tiny light blinked into the darkness. Scarface had lit a match and was looking for the next lantern on the wall. He found it, lit it, then lit a cigar from the lantern flame. “Come on, girlie,” he said, bending down to pick up her hat which had fallen at his feet, “let's get all the lanterns going again- no tellin' when you'll need'em.”
I would like to go back in the past; to the time of James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.
And I must admit, I've been drawn to Moose Jaw ever since I heard about the tunnels. The tunnels, the ones rumored to be used by Al Capone. Last summer I did visit Moose Jaw , and I headed straight to the tunnels. Andrea, aka Andy, finds herself in the tunnels too, but she got there via a completely different route! This 13-year-old girl, who is fond of biking, slips back in time to the 1920's. Yes, she gets out of her cousin's wedding, which she was dreading, but this is not a good alternative. On the plus side though, she does meets Vance who shows her how to quickly, yet secretly, guide some questionable characters around underground Moose Jaw. Al Capone, or Big Al as he likes to be called, takes a liking to Andrea. He offers her a job as top runner. Will she take it? Vance might lose his job if she does. What will Big Al want her to do? Andrea learns how to survive the tunnels. She doesn't do it alone though. She has the help of Vance, a boy around her age, and his little sister Beanie. Rosie, who is Al Capone's girlfriend, also becomes a friend. Andrea grapples with quite a few choices throughout the book. To whom should she be loyal? Whom should she help? Whom can she trust?
What a jolt to the system when Andrea goes from present times to 1924! Her surroundings and her way of life change dramatically. And she even picks up some of the dialect and slang from the 1920's. In present time, she was worried about embarrassing herself at her cousin's wedding. She was to be a junior bridesmaid, but she was a little resentful because she was missing the big bike trip. In 1924, Andrea learns how to earn coins and how to hide from possible gangsters. She wonders where she'll sleep at night. And how will she get home? She and Vance seem to be forever racing against the clock in this story; or racing to beat the cops in order to warn Al Capone someone is coming and he had better hide. What's scarier- those tunnels underground where the lights get blown out by the wind and the walls tumble and crumble, or a mad Al Capone? The author, who lives in Saskatchewan , makes both convincingly scary! Andrea has two big secrets. One, that she is a girl, and two, that she is from the future. A little humor is injected when Andrea slips up and refers to items commonly used in the future, items like flashlights and ice! Although her time in the past amounted to about 24 hours, she is transformed. Going to the past makes her appreciate her family more and see a couple of relatives in a whole new light.
Tanya Boudreau is a Youth Services Librarian and Resource Librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake , AB.
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