________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 5 . . . . October 26, 2007


Emville Confidential.

Don Trembath.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2007.
188 pp., pbk., $8.95.             
ISBN 978-1-55143-671-5.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Leanne Strang.

**½  /4

Reviewed from Advance Reader Copy.


“Shut up Myles.” Baron’s lips shook with rage. “I’m tired of you being Mr. Know-It-All all the time. The only reason Wilson’s here is because of me, so I should be allowed to talk with her as much as you do. She’s my girl, not yours!”

It took a few seconds for the full impact of Baron’s words to sink in, but when they did, the reactions of the three members of the agency were profoundly different: Myles stared in bewildered silence at his friend. Wilson blushed and covered her face with her hands. With no deep hole in sight to dive into, Baron did the next best thing. He ran into his house.

“Uh-oh,” said Wilson, breaking the long silence that followed.

“I had a feeling this would happen,” said Myles.

He adjourned the meeting and arranged to meet Wilson at an appropriate time on Sunday to carry out their detective work.

Baron Colfax is a 12-year-old daydreamer extraordinaire, a crime-fighting detective-wanna-be, and most importantly a friend who knows what he wants. Baron starts out the story daydreaming but soon reality kicks in and mystery solving is in full swing. Baron has epilepsy and sometimes blanks out – but these blank outs are actually absence seizures. Many of his teachers don’t recognize the symptoms or more importantly – they don’t understand the symptoms and simply ignore them. The author uses Baron’s daydream sequences as his escape from reality. What he desperately wants is to be a detective – just like the old black and white movies complete with cigarette smoking, hot women, fame and glory. Baron has been best friend with Myles since they were five. Living in a smalltown – Emville, Alberta, Myles and Baron started up their detective agency- the C&M (Colfax & Monahan) Agency, and are soon to meet their next client.

     A 12-year-old girl shows up and presents a story that the detectives feel is not true. They quickly get to the bottom of the mystery their new client presented. While they are trying to figure out this girl’s deceptions, both boys begin to like her. Wilson is the client, and she is new to town complete with a secret past. The love triangle starts immediately after Wilson walks into the boys’ lives. Wilson has recently had a tragic and live-altering loss in her life, and she is still trying to come to terms with the events that brought her to Emville. Wilson is soon a partner in the detective agency. The problems begin as the boys each have to work with the new partner separately and rivalry starts to rear its ugly head. Their troubles are typical for their ages – full of misunderstandings and miscommunications – or rather basic lack of communication. The trio of partners finally come together to hash out their differences. The problems were not so difficult once they communicate and tell each other their true feelings. The partners finally come to an understanding of each other after much communicating.

     Although these quick paced dilemmas within the story keep the reader going, keen to find out what happens next, the dream sequences start out too confusing – from the beginning, it was hard to tell what was happening until a few chapters into the book. The epilepsy is an important part of the story and could have been explained further so kids could have a better understanding of what it is really like to live with it. The teachers in this story ignore the seriousness of his seizures, but the readers should not. This was a great venue to identify the realities of having epilepsy to kids, and the opportunity seems to have been missed. The story touched on many other true-to-life scenarios that kids of this age do identify with. The lack of communication is portrayed very well - showing people of all ages the consequences of not saying what one thinks or feels. The theme of standing up for yourself is shown in a great example at the end of the story.


Leanne Strang provides pre-school Story Time at the local public library in Grand Forks, BC. She has three boys who are voracious readers and keep her in the storytelling mode at all times!

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

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