________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 3 . . . . September 29, 2006


Bats Past Midnight. (HIP-JR.).

Sharon Jennings.
Toronto, ON: High Interest Publishing, 2005.
69 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-897039-13-1.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Georgie Perigny.

**** /4



I looked at my best friend, Simon. “I dare you,” I said.

“Get lost,” he replied. Then Simon pushed his glasses up his nose.

So I glared at Simon and made chicken noises.

“Bwak, bwak, bwak, bwak, bwak!”

“I'm not a chicken, Sam,” Simon told me. “If you want to run around the streets after midnight, go ahead. I'll pass.”

“Aw, come on,” I said. “It's almost our last night of freedom. Once school starts, we'll be trapped until next summer.”

Simon and I were in his backyard, sleeping out. He lives on the street behind mine, a few houses down. The two of us have been hanging out together for years. In the summer, when our parents let us, we sleep outside in the bat house.

The bat house is really just a tree house. We fixed it up when we were little kids and called ourselves the Bat Gang. The Bat Gang is a club with only two members. We have secret codes, a secret handshake and stuff like that. We even caught some crooks and got our picture in the paper. But that was three years ago.

Sam and Simon have been best friends since grade two. They do everything together, from sleepovers in the bat house to secret codes. Simon, being more reserved, tries to be sensible, but Sam's curiosity somehow always gets Simon involved. The two six graders are inseparable, a bit mischievous, and they always seem to get themselves into trouble with very little effort.

     Their previous quests for adventure have led them to become notorious. They once caught some crooks breaking into a house; another time they had an opportunity to be extras in a movie, and they even found cash and jewels hidden in a compost bin.

     In Bats Past Midnight, Sam and Simon get in trouble once again by sneaking off to the park in the middle of the night for some last minute freedom before summer is over. Shortly after arriving in the park, they observe a vehicle pulling up without any headlights on. Fearing that it may be their parents, Sam and Simon hide in a bush only to witness a second vehicle, a bright yellow corvette pull up beside the car. A few minutes later, the two vehicles drive away, and the boys head for home. As they approach the area where the two vehicles were parked, they discover a wad of cash on the street.

     Simon, being a bit more level headed, wants to hand the money to the police immediately while Sam is a bit reluctant. Afraid of getting into more trouble, the two boys decide to keep the money for a while until they could come up with a good story of where they found the money. A few days later, they notice the bright yellow corvette hanging around the school, and when they try to discover more about the mysterious vehicle and the driver, they end up in more trouble than they can handle. Their detective work causes the two boys to become late for class, having stones cast upon them, being teased by other classmates, being kidnaped and even going on a wild horse chase. How will the two boys ever get out of this one?

     Bats Past Midnight is a fascinating fiction that captures readers' attention through the use of thrilling adventures. The language and pace of the book are appropriate for the intended audience. The book is divided into eight easy to read chapters and is complemented by black and white illustrations drawn by Kalle Malloy. Bats Past Midnight keeps readers in suspense and captivates their attention as they continue to read the pages to find out what will happen next. It is an action packed story about friendship, trust and having fun.

     Canadian author Sharon Jennings lives in Toronto, and she has written more than 15 books for young people. Although Bats Past Midnight is Jennings fourth “bat” novel, readers do not need to read the first three books in order to appreciate Bats Past Midnight. Each book is creatively written for a young audience and has a story plot of its own.

Highly Recommended.

Georgie Perigny is a teacher at River Valley School at Sundre, AB.

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

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