________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 2 . . . . September 14, 2007


Martin Bridge Out of Orbit!

Jessica Scott Kerrin. Illustrated by Joseph Kelly.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2007.
111 pp.,  pbk. & hc., $5.95 (pbk), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55453-149-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55453-148-6 (hc.).

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Carole Marion.

**** /4


Harper infuriates Martin with his incessant tall tales. Harper doesn't live in a house; he lives in a castle complete with a drawbridge and a moat, but it looks like a plain old house to eight-year-old Martin. Harper missed getting hit by a car by leaping so high that the vehicle drove right underneath him, thanks to the mega malted energy shake that he had for breakfast. And Harper's new bicycle looks like any other bike, but not to Harper:

"He's exaggerating," said Martin. "Again."

Alex and Stuart looked perplexed.

"It's just like his bike," said Martin. "Remember?"

Martin could not forget. Last month, Harper had gone on and on about how he was getting a new bike that could actually fly. But when he finally rode it to school, his bike looked just like everyone else's.

"I thought you said your bike could fly," Martin had called out.

"My dad took off the jet packs," Harper had explained, "until I get a little older."

The crowd had murmured in admiration.

Martin remained highly skeptical. "Old enough for jet packs yet?" he taunted whenever he spotted Harper on his bike.

"Not yet," Harper always replied without missing a beat. "But soon. You'll see."

It was infuriating.

When Principal Moody plans a costume parade as a tactic to raise awareness of reduced speed zones surrounding the school, Harper brags that his "costume is going to be out of this world," Martin can't take it anymore, and so he decides to create a costume that is even more spectacular than Harper's. But Harper's costume turns out to be even more flashy and spectacular than Martin expected, and Martin is fuming. Will he be able to put aside his dislike for his classmate when Harper gets into trouble, or will he let the bragger get what he deserves?

     In the second adventure of this two chapter book, Martin reveals to his classmates that he wants to be an astronaut. With friends Stuart and Alex, he spends hours acting out the scenes in Spyder Mappleson's series of comic books featuring Zip Rideout. As it turns out, most of his fellow classmates want to be astronauts, "with a few firefighters, police officers, hockey players, paleontologists and ballerinas sprinkled in." When their teacher, Mrs. Crammond, announces that Spyder will be visiting the class, Martin becomes obsessed about meeting the illustrator. But when Martin discovers first-hand that astronauts - or at least would-be astronauts acting out his hero's stories - can get hurt, he wonders if he has made the right career choice.

     New chapter book readers will identify with the characters in the Martin Bridge series and will want to read them all. Joseph Kelly's frequent black & white, cartoonish illustrations supplement the text admirably and are especially adept at showing the emotions of the characters. They add a "graphic novel" dimension to the storyline that will further captivate the young reader who is making the transition from picture books to easy chapter books. All five tomes in the series are well worth the read.

Highly Recommended.

A former youth librarian, Carole Marion is the CS Manager of Calgary Public Library's Forest Lawn Branch. She has been working with children and caregivers for over 20 years.

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

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