CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 14 . . . . March 17, 2006
3 Feet Under. (HIP-JR.).
Toronto, ON: High Interest Publishing, 2005.
66 pp., pbk., $9.95.
3-8 / Ages 8-13.
by Meredith MacKeen.
Fear is not a
good thing. When a person is afraid, things go wrong. When a person
is afraid, he makes mistakes. When a person is afraid, little mistakes
become big ones.
Both Scott and Rico were afraid now.
The tunnel seemed
much darker with only one flashlight. Even worse, that light seemed
to be getting dimmer.
With two lights,
they could see the walls and follow the tunnel. With one light,
they could only see the tunnel floor. It was shiny and wet, with
cracks and lumps that could make a person fall.
The boys were moving too fast now. The fear had crept into their
bones and was taking over. It pushed them to rush ahead, to make
With this hi-lo title, Paul Kropp has created a fast paced thriller
for those experiencing reading difficulties. In a straightforward
plot, Scott finds a map among his grandfather's possessions, and he
believes the map leads to treasure reputedly buried in an abandoned
coal mine. On Scott’s way to school, he is harassed by the local
bully, Clay, who steals his backpack containing the precious map.
Rico, Scott’s best friend, offers his assistance in retrieving
Their first plan fails, but the two decide to explore the old mine
using Scott's memory of the map as their guide. A few calamities arise,
and soon they hear the sound of shoveling. They correctly guess that
Clay must have found the treasure. During the ensuing struggle amongst
the three boys, the mine collapses. Rico, the athletic popular student
with the big smile, handles himself easily above ground and with bravado
against bullies, but, in crisis situations, he crumples. Scott, the
more academic and shy of the two, has the courage and fortitude to
get all of them out of the mine. However, they are obliged to leave
behind the treasure. Their individual stories about their adventures
are added to the folklore that surrounds the mystery of Bolton Mine.
simple plot and uncomplicated sentence structure make the book accessible
to limited readers. Unfortunately, choice of words sometimes limits
the read aloud quality of the novel. The characters are contemporary,
and the setting, abandoned old mines, can likely be found in every
region of Canada. The two dimensional heros are likeable while the
third character is just the bully. This bit of character development
does appeal to everyone and helps make the story seem plausible. At
the end, readers are assured that the bully “...stopped beating
up on little kids. He stopped stealing lunch money. Clay Prentice
never became a good guy, but he stopped being a bully.”
MacKeen is a teacher-librarian at Glen Stewart Elementary in Stratford,
on this title or this review, send mail to email@example.com.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal
use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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