________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 3 . . . . September 30, 2005


Tunnels of Tyranny: A Fourth Moose Jaw Adventure.

Mary Harelkin Bishop.
Regina, SK: Couteau Books, 2005.
238 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55050-316-2.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Betsy Fraser.

*** /4


“The truth is that we’re just an ordinary organization of people looking to protect our country and its people,” he stated.

“Yes, but by the sound of it, you’re only protecting the ‘chosen’ people, the ones you’ve decided are special or privileged. You’re not going to protect all people,” Vance interjected. “You’re not going to protect the Chinese people.”The two Klansmen closed in on Vance. He almost disappeared, lost in the yards of white material of their costumes. “We’re protecting you, boy, unless you go against us. Side with us and you’ll be fine. Protect the others, and you’d better watch out.”


When Andrea, now 16, is given a mission by her critically ill grandfather that would take both her and her younger brother Tony back into the tunnels and back in time, she feels she has no choice – Grandpa Vince’s life may depend on it. Andrea and Tony will be going back with a purpose, one that they must keep hidden from everyone. When Andrea and Tony arrive back in time, however, they find Moose Jaw occupied with its own troubles. Initially, they think they see ghosts in the tunnels, but when they find out the truth, it turns out to be even scarier. The new gang in town, seeking payment for membership and running out of business anyone they feel is of inferior race, is the Ku Klux Klan. Andrea and Tony are able to give their grandparents, newspaper reporters at the time, background information about the group, as well as help them to find out what the Klan is really up to when they learn that the Klan is mixed up with bad guys from previous Bishop adventures. All the while, Andrea works to fulfill her promise to a dying grandfather in the present.

     Another fast-moving plot makes this a very smooth, fast read. It adds to the series and does not require previous knowledge of the earlier books, although the presence of bad guys that inspire fear in the young protagonists would make such knowledge helpful. The multicultural and multigenerational aspects of the book are very nice aspects of historical fiction and ones to be lauded in a Canadian series. Curiosity inspired by presenting the KKK in the Moose Jaw area leads me to believe that the book could make a very good introduction into civil rights, especially since it can be very difficult to find any Canadian historical material on the subject relevant to younger children. In all, this is a book with well-rounded characters of both genders that will be very popular with readers of historical fiction and time slip fantasy.


Betsy Fraser is a librarian with Calgary Public Library.

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

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