________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 1 . . . . August 29, 2008

cover Katie Be Quiet.

Darcy Tamayose.
Regina, SK: Coteau Books, 2008.
138 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 978-1-55050-390-6.

Grades 5-7 / Ages 10-12.

Review by Jen Waters.

** /4


She didn't want to go to school today — or any day for that matter. She didn't have any friends. She didn't have a nice teacher. She didn't have nice clothes. Her body was going through weird changes, and her emotions seemed to be all out of whack. She never saw her mom anymore, because Emma was too busy drawing up plans for Constantine's lavender farm. But the biggest problem Katie had to deal with was that she missed her dad. How was she supposed to solve that problem when they never talked about him? Her mom was drowning herself in her new project. And Katie? Well, she felt a sinking feeling in her stomach that just wouldn't go away.

Decrescendo, Katie thought. I'm in decrescendo.


Thirteen-year-old Katie is mad at the world, and she has good reason to be — her beloved composer father John Bean has just died, her mother is in denial, they have moved to a small town in Southern Alberta, and she is being bullied by the local gang of thugs. But Katie is a headstrong girl and is able to make friends at school, and, while they are working on a project about ghosts of the past, they unearth some interesting facts about colourful local history, including the mystery surrounding her own father's death (who speaks to Katie occasionally beyond the grave through the pages of the unfinished opera he was composing at the time of his death).

      Meanwhile, Katie's mother is helping John's friend Constantine revamp the local hotel with a focus on lavender so that the town will become known as "The little Provence of the Prairies" and is introduced to Mordecai W. Nightshade and Estelle Michelle, an odd couple who are in Chanteclaire to set up an authentic French lavender cafe. The couple, actually art thieves who have been pursued for years by Interpol for their theft of famous paintings and musical instruments, are in town to steal the unfinished opera written by John Bean. These French caricatures (who are from Moose Jaw but speak with cheesy French accents to foil the police) would be the most interesting part of the story if they weren't so over the top, but they do add a good dose of comic relief.

      Katie Be Quiet is a gentle mystery that may appeal to young teens; however, at times the plot is farfetched, and loose ends are tied up a little too conveniently for my liking, but I must give Tamayose props for the creativity of the murder weapon used on two accounts poisoned tea bags that slowly kill the intended victims over the course of a year. The mother and daughter's grieving process might also strike a chord in some young readers who have lost a parent. I wish Tamayose had developed that part of the narrative further as it provides more sympathy for characters that are a little dull.


Jen Waters is the Teen Services Librarian at the Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.