________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 18 . . . . January 16, 2015


Rock The Boat. (Orca Limelights).

Sigmund Brouwer.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2015.
119 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0455-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0456-2 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0457-9 (epub).

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Kerri Hutchinson.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



"We're music people. Not agents or managers. If you wrote the song, no way is it your first song. So I'm okay doing this to you: play us something else of yours."

Webb understood where this was going. He went back to the center of the loft and stood alone among the cords and speakers. He picked up his guitar and strummed it a few times to be sure it was still in tune. Of course it was, but that was something he did automatically. Webb didn't see any point in playing another up-tempo song like "Rock the Boat." Harley's challenge was simple: show us you are a songwriter because we know Gerald Dean is not.

Rock the Boat marks the third appearance of the character Jim Webb, who first appeared in Devil's Pass as part of "Seven the Series" and again in Tin Soldier, part of "The Seven Sequels". After an Arctic adventure and a mystery in the southern United States, Rock the Boat picks up with Webb as he prefers to go by, living in a house boat in Nashville. In his will, Webb's grandfather had arranged and paid for Webb to record an album with one of the best producers in Nashville, Gerald Dean.

      The album is a mix of covers and original songs, but Dean quickly deflates Webb's confidence when he tells him one of his original songs, "Rock the Boat", isn't good enough to record and should never be played again. Dean takes advantage of Webb's inexperience within the music business and keeps increasing the production costs and refusing to give Webb his album before he pays the extra money. Webb is left with a tough choice of spending nearly every penny he has to finish his album or to walk away without it. When Webb refuses to pay, Dean accuses him of stealing guitars from the studio and tries to ruin Webb's reputation in Nashville. Things go from bad to worse when Webb hears another musician, one who is also working with Dean, perform "Rock the Boat".

      With everything he has at stake, Webb has to find a way to take down Gerald Dean and restore his reputation and avoid legal ramifications. Webb learns that loving music and being successful in the music business can be quite different. The strength of his character and a chance in encounter with a fellow musician make all the difference in the end for Webb.

      Rock the Boat is part of the Orca "Limelights" series that focuses on the performing arts. Rock the Boat is a fast-moving, easy and enjoyable reading experience that will appeal to many readers. The vocabulary is at-level, but the quick pace and shorter chapters will appeal to reluctant readers who will have a sense of accomplishment when they finish this book. Jim Webb is a recurring character in Sigmund Brouwer's books, but it is not necessary to read the previous two to understand the context. Rock the Boat can be read as a standalone or as a continuation of Webb's story.

      Webb is easy to root for against the slimy Gerald Dean, but by the end of Rock the Boat, readers will be cheering for Dean's demise, and they won't be left disappointed in the end.


Kerri Hutchinson is a library technician with the Region of Waterloo in Waterloo, ON.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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