________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 23 . . . . February 20, 2015


Mac on the Road to Marseille. (The Adventures of Mademoiselle Mac, Book 2).

Christopher Ward.
Toronto, ON: Dundurn, 2015.
185 pp., trade pbk., EPUB & PDF, $8.99 (pbk.), $7.99 (EPUB), $8.99 (PDF).
ISBN 978-1-4597-2188-3 (pbk), ISBN 978-1-4597-2190-6 (EPub) ISBN 978-1-4597-2189-0 (PDF).

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Lisa Doucet.

**½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



The Marauders chose this moment to make their grand entrance, horns blazing, the drumbeat from "We Will Rock You" blasting at deafening level and a team of dancers in sailor suits doing cartwheels alongside the Marauders' cabs. It was impressive, and the crowd loved it. A fishnet carpet was rolled out as Margot Mallard emerged from the lead taxi, a tank-like vehicle in freshly painted battleship grey with porthole illustrations on the doors. Margot shot a stream of spit through the considerable gap in her teeth and waved to the adoring crowd. She turned back and hissed something to the car's other occupant, who appeared reluctantly from the passenger side.

A boy of about fifteen or sixteen with what can only be described as a tousled look (Penelope, are you paying attention?) emerged in a blue- and white-striped shirt, red neckerchief, and yes...an eye patch! He slowly joined Margot, who grabbed his hand possessively and dragged him to the podium.
Her son? Must be. Cute? Might be. Lose the scarf and the eye patch and you'd really have something, I thought.

The crowd chanted "Mar-got!" as she clumped up the steps to the stage. Anatole Belmondo couldn't hide his disgust, his nose curling up at the sight of her; Marcel Lestrade couldn't hide his fear as he visibly recoiled. Dizzy took the high road, bowing his head slightly in deference and removing his hat. Margot scratched herself vigorously and then, to my surprise, looked down from the stage, pointed a yellowed finger at Blag and made the sign of the horns, which he cheerfully returned.

"You know her?" I asked, surprised.

"She's Margot Mallard, kiddo, everyone knows her in the taxicab world," he said with a tone of respect. "She'd force you off the road and throw you to the sharks before breakfast just for a laugh if you gave her the chance."

Six months have passed since Mac's first (and highly eventful!) trip to Paris, and now she is once again bound for the City of Lights. This time, she and her parents are attending the wedding of her father's long-time friend and former bandmate, Rudee Daroo. Mac's parents are blissfully unaware of her previous Parisian adventures, and she is anxious to keep it that way. She is nonetheless delighted to be reunited with Rudee and his cab driving cronies. Rudee and Sashay's wedding is a magnificent affair, and the celebrations are as joyful and outlandish as she had expected of this entertaining crew. But as the festivities kick into high gear, Rudee's best friend Dizzy surprises Mac with an urgent request. It turns out that the annual taxi road rally is set to begin in several days time while Rudee will be on his honeymoon. The Parisian Partypoppers, therefore, need Mac to fill in for Rudee as Blag Leboeuf's navigator in the rally. Without her help, the evil Marseille Marauders will likely replace the Partypoppers as champions. At first, Mac politely declines. But when Dizzy convinces her mother that this is a not-to-be-missed cultural experience, Mac soon finds herself fully immersed in preparations for the big event.

      However, while the cab drivers obsess over the rally, the big news is in the art world. Someone has committed the first of what will quickly become a series of "art attacks", replacing some of the world's most beloved paintings with slightly altered replicas. Unbelievably, as Mac and the Partypoppers struggle to win the rally, she stumbles upon the identity of the man behind these strange attacks. Suddenly, Mademoiselle Mac must stop a madman, save a masterpiece and try to help her friends defend their title of taxi rally champions.

      In this second saga of Mac and her zany new Parisian pals, readers get to revisit the colourful cast of characters from the first book, Mac in the City of Lights. Rudee, with his charming (and oftentimes baffling) "Rudeeisms", is as endearing as ever, and his odd assortment of cabmates are equally memorable. The Marseille Marauders are delightfully villainous, and their underhanded exploits to eliminate the competition inspire outrage at every turn. However, the two storylines that ultimately interconnect are not as seamlessly interwoven as this reader would have liked them to be. The resolution of the art mystery feels rather sudden and forced. The "art attacker's" motivation was suggested but not fully explored, nor was his ultimate goal readily apparent. In addition, the outcome of the rally was also somewhat unclear. How precisely did the previously-eliminated Champagne Supernovas manage to win the rally? Yet these issues notwithstanding, the story is a lighthearted romp that features a likeable and resourceful heroine and enough wit and whimsy to satisfy young readers.


Lisa is Co-Manager of Woozles Children's Bookstore in Halifax, NS.

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

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