CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 10 . . . . January 4, 2007
Well-known author Sigmund Brouwer has begun a humorous, boy-friendly series with this first instalment of the Howling Timberwolves. In Timberwolf Chase, the reader meets the three main characters around which all the action is based. Johnny Maverick, as his name implies, is the kid with the big ideas who regularly gets in trouble. He intentionally, or unintentionally, is the catalyst to the action of the novel. His bumbling sidekick, Stu Duncan, is the easy-going “chubby” boy who likes his food and one liners. Tom Morgan is the big city boy with lots of talent and even more attitude who is stuck playing small town minor league hockey.
The story begins at the first practice of the year for the Howling Timberwolves when the coach introduces a new player, Tom Morgan. However, as the story progresses, we learn Tom is not happy to be part of his new team. Tom wants the team to win games, and after practice he decides Stu will hold them back. As a result, Tom begins to harass Stu about being too big and slow to play hockey and suggests Stu quit the team. Though Johnny tries to explain the two morals of this tale - it is fun to be part of a team, and everyone is needed - Tom will not understand. So, when Tom will not stop teasing Stu, Johnny challenges him to race Stu. If Stu wins, Tom must wear a dress to a hockey game; if Tom wins, Stu will quit the team. With this, Sigmund sets up the traditional tale of the tortoise and the hare, with a twist. In this morality tale, the winner is not only the slow and steady, but also the ones willing to be team players.
Brouwer effectively employs stereotypical characters to assist the reader in immersing quickly into his chapter book. The setting is also depicted as a stereotypical small town. Therefore, the author is able to focus primarily on the dialogue between Tom, Stu and Johnny. The use of one-liners and physical humour will especially appeal to boys.
An experienced writer, Brouwer’s use of appropriate language and simple sentence structure will allow the young reader easy access to the story line. The chapters are short with one or two pages of black and white illustrations to break up the text.
Though a well-written humorous telling, I feel Timberwolf Chase occasionally lacks credibility. For example, Stu’s references to Oprah and turn the other cheek attitude are too adult. As well, the conclusion is contrived in its intent to spell out the moral for the reader. My co-reviewer was a seven-year-old boy who does not play hockey. He indicated that Timberwolf Chase was a funny book. He liked the race chapter the best. When he finished reading, he asked if the second book was written yet.
A witty retelling of the tortoise and the hare, this early chapter book series will be popular with boys primarily ages 7-9.
Jonine Bergen works at the Millennium Library while completing the Library Technician program at Red River College in Winnipeg.
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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.