________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV . . . . August 31, 2007


Into the Ravine.

Richard Scrimger.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2007.
258 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-0-88776-822-4.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reader Copy.


The cell phone rang from inside my pocket. It and my money were the only things I'd taken from the knapsack. "That'll be Ma," I said.

"You want to tell her about Corey?"

"No." I fished out the phone. "Can you imagine, Chris? She'd scream so loud you could hear it from here."

The problem is that my mom can usually tell when I'm lying. I'd have to be very careful. I took a deep breath and opened the phone. Come on, Jules, relax. Be natural.

"Hello there, mother of mine. How's every little thing?"

Too relaxed! Drat. I opened my mouth to correct myself but never got a chance.

"I'm not your mom."


Good friends Jules, Chris and Corey decide to use a maple tree downed in a recent storm to build a raft. In this way, they can explore the ravine and the small river which runs just behind their homes. They plan a few hours on the raft drifting downstream, and then they'll be picked up by their parents when they reach the lakeshore park - a relaxed and lazy way to spend a hot summer day. Little do the boys suspect what awaits them over the next few hours. Their adventures include almost drowning, bicycles dropping from the sky, a gang of bullies, ominous-looking hobos and pretty girls at a pool party. Several of these seemingly unconnected events and individuals come together in a wild and crazy ending to the story.

     Scrimger's book is full of humour which often reaches the absurd thanks to the character of Corey. As well, the near misses, captures and escapes in various settings create non-stop adventure and plenty of laughs from beginning to end. The plot is fast paced; the characters and dialogue are realistic. At times the book seems 'larger than life' and pushes the limits of believability, but it all promotes the adventure and farcical comedy which are the prime pillars of the novel. Scrimger writes in the first person, from Jules's point of view, and seems incredibly able to portray the mind of a 13-year-old boy. 

     A few asides, aka interruptions, help the reader understand Jules and, therefore, comprehend some of the more serious aspects of the novel. The book is full of contrasts: the noise and chaos of suburbia in a large city vs. the wildlife and serenity of a small river and ravine; the three 'regular kids' vs. the leather-jacketed members of the gang; and the 'haves' vs. the 'have-nots'. At this level, the rafting expedition becomes symbolic of all of the various places we go in life and the people we meet en route.

     Such ideas are for use in a language arts classroom where this would make an interesting choice of literature for class study. On the more informal side, Into the Ravine is just a great tale and lots of laughs for anyone who chooses to go along for the ride.

Highly Recommended.

Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364
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