CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 21 . . . . June 23, 2006
Vancouver, BC: Raincoast Books, 2006.
260 pp., pbk., $12.95.
Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.
Review by Kristin Butcher.
Olivier's adventures at the very strange home of his grandfather and step-step-stepgramma, Sylvia de Whosit of Whatsit, continue in the third book of the “Cat's Eye Corner” series by Terry Griggs. Once again, Olivier teams up with his trusty sidekick, Murray Schaeffer, a somewhat outspoken (outwritten?) fountain pen, and, as in the previous stories, the two head out into the Dark Woods in search of …? I'm not really sure. At any rate, they soon meet up with Linnet and Sylvan --friends and fellow adventure-seekers -- and head off to discover the cause of a sudden, enormous, very destructive wind. Along the way, of course, they meet up with all manner of characters who alternately obstruct or aid the little band's progress.
Then…a short distance beyond the boat a hand shot out of the water. A blue hand. It was slightly larger than an adult's hand and had long tapering fingers which it wiggled a little. It quickly vanished, sinking back under the waterline. Then two more hands, identical to the first, appeared on the other side of the boat. They were smooth and blue and had no fingernails, only fingernail impressions. They wiggled and fluttered their fingers as the first had done, then also slipped back under. Then five more hands shot up out of the water, then thirteen, then many, many more. These did not go back under, but remained above the surface to form a dense, blue finger-wriggling barrier around the boat.
The children were paralyzed with fear. If someone had asked them to speak now, they could not have.
Like a gang of bullies in the schoolyard, the hands next began to push the boat around. They shoved it one way, then the other, then back again. They did this for a while, then began twirling it around, faster and faster, in dizzying circles, clockwise, then counterclockwise. When they tired of this game (and before anyone could throw up on them), they started rocking the boat. Blue wrists and forearms were now visible, as they reached up to latch onto its sides. They jerked the boat roughly up and down, again and again, almost overturning it.
Like the preceding novels in the series, Invisible Ink is packed with bizarre people, places and wordplay. It's all very clever, and Griggs has to be admired for her amazing imagination. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a clear plot on which to hang all this fun. Throughout the reading, I had to keep asking myself why the characters were doing what they were doing and going where they were going. They seemed to be moving through the Dark Woods (and the story) haphazardly. Their only real purpose was to try to get Linnet's powers back, and, considering everything that was going on, that hardly seemed substantial enough to carry the story.
Recommended with reservations.
Kristin Butcher lives in Campbell River, BC, and writes for children.
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