________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 6 . . . . November 10, 2005


Martin Bridge On the Lookout!

Jessica Scott Kerrin. Illustrated by Joseph Kelly.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2005.
142 pp., pbk. & cl., $5.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55337-773-7 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55337-689-7 (cl.).

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Mary Thomas.

***½ /4



Ding dong.

Martin answered the door. There stood Laila Moffatt holding a big, lumpy present. ...

"Happy birthday!" said Laila.

She turned to wave good-bye as her mom beep-beeped, then drove away.

"You're here for my birthday party?" Martin asked. He couldn't believe it.

"Am I early?"

"No, Laila," said Martin dryly. "You're late. My party was yesterday."

"Yesterday? But the invitation said today. I think." Laila's smile faded.

"No," corrected Martin. "Yesterday. It said yesterday. I invited the whole class, and they all came yesterday."

Laila felt her pockets for the invitation. When she came up empty-handed, she whirled around. But her mom was long gone. Laila slowly turned back to face Martin. Then she reached for her left foot and pulled it up behind her.

Laila always did that when she was nervous.


What could be worse than being dropped off for a birthday party that happened yesterday? Well, try having your least favourite classmate turn up for your party not only the day after it actually happened, but also, although you have a special outing arranged with your best friends, having your mother insist that you stay and play with her instead. Or how about forgetting your permission slip so that your class goes off to the dinosaur museum and you have to spend the day in your last-year's class where everyone is younger than you except for the dork who was held back and who eats erasers and pencil shavings? Or being the useful guy who opens the window to let out the smell of last week's tuna sandwich just as someone else lets the class parakeet out of her cage?


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     All three of the stories in Martin Bridge On the Lookout! are based on an initial “it's-not-fair, I-didn't-mean-to situation” that works itself out to a much better than could have been expected conclusion. This is a very satisfactory formula for readers anxious to read real chapter books, but who are not yet quite up to a long continuous narrative. Each chapter is a story in itself, but Martin and his pals are in all of them, lending continuity to the episodes. The situations described are all basically school-centred, and are scenarios with which any child can empathize---especially the forgotten permission slip!---making the book a positive encouragement to reading for the fun of it.

     This is not a picture book, but it is well illustrated with black-and-white sketches placed so that there are never two complete pages of dauntingly solid text for the reader. The pictures tend not so much to give clues to help in decoding the text as to be excellent indicators of the mood of the story. Joseph Kelly is to be congratulated on his atmospherics, and Jessica Scott Kerrin on producing a believable and appealing hero placed in recognizably understandable situations. Kids should really enjoy this book.


Highly Recommended.


Mary Thomas is presently on leave from her job in elementary school libraries in Winnipeg, MB.


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

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