________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 6 . . . . November 10, 2006

cover The Big Snapper. (Orca Young Readers). 

Katherine Holubitsky. Illustrated by Samia Drisdelle.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2006.
131 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 1-55143-563-2. 

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.  

*** /4 


“Was it the snapper?” 

Granddad nods. “It was the snapper. The biggest and strongest red snapper I’d ever seen.” 

Eddie’s eyes widen. “How big?”

“Well, let’s see.” Granddad considers Eddie. “Maybe about the length of you plus half again, but more the weight of a grizzly bear. Back then the water was cleaner, and there weren’t so many commercial boats. The fish had a better chance to get real big. He was a young buck. He had to be to have that much strength. I have to admit, I was impressed. After breaking the surface, he made a perfect arch over a fellow in a kayak. But before he disappeared beneath the waves again, he turned and cursed me with a shiny black eye.” 

     Ten-year-old Eddie and his granddad cannot get enough when it comes to fishing! Granddad tells the stories, and Eddie baits the hooks with octopus. They catch rock cod and silver salmon. But what they would love to catch is the big snapper. In the beginning, Eddie sees this equation in his head - catching the big snapper would equal new glasses for grandma, a new vacuum for mom, and a new bike for himself. However, later on, the big snapper takes on a new importance for Eddie.  

     Granddad’s been telling Eddie several tall tales. One involves a unique Sasquatch-ish character, and another involves something just as big - a whale. This whale had a talent for creating huge impressions! But Granddad never tires of telling big snapper stories. Unfortunately, both the big snapper and the fishing boat have physical reminders of the times they’ve met. But, behind each dent in the boat and nick in the fish is a story. The taller granddad’s tales, the more humorous, silly and interesting they get! They keep Eddie’s attention, as they will young readers. After all the stories Granddad has told about the one that got away, Granddad is finally told a tale about the one that got away. Although the stories and circumstances are very different, they are similar in one important way. They are both told through love.  

     People come and go in Eddie’s life on the Queen Charlotte Islands, but these transitions bring adaptation and understanding to the characters. Eddie is not the only one who summons up strength and courage in this story.  

     Storytelling is a way to hold on, and to let go. We remember the stories we are told, and we share the stories we hear. In The Big Snapper, storytelling bonds and heals the family. It’s no exaggeration to say the author, a CLA Young Adult Canadian Book Award winner, has a talent for telling stories.  


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB. 

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

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