________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 36. . . .May 20, 2016


Water Works. (Emma & the Elementals: Volume Two).

Tanya Karen Gough.
Toronto, ON: Baba Yaga Press, 2015.
221 pp., trade pbk. & eBook, $14.99 (pbk.), $3.99 (eBook).
ISBN 978-0-9878506-2-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-9878506-3-8 (eBook).

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Libby McKeever.

** /4



Mani was indeed in trouble. As the new kid, he was an easy target for Babs and her gang. It did not help that no one knew much about him or that he looked different from everyone else. And it really did not help that his mother, Mrs. Pheegee, was a particularly difficult teacher. His skin was a rich golden brown, and his eyes were large and midnight black. At that moment, they were wide open in fear. Babs had him by the collar, bent backward over the pool. It was clear he did not want to fall in.

… “This is wrong.”

Emma looked at Reggie with surprise.

“Don’t Reggie.” She put her hand on his sleeve gently. Her eyes begged him not to do anything stupid.

…Babs got a-hold of Reggie’s shirt, just as he rushed into range. In a single, fluid motion, she turned, dragged him to the edge of the pool, and sent him flying into the water.

Reggie sank like a stone.

…Babs turned to see Emma approach, but this time Emma was moving too quickly. She pushed Babs out of the way and dove head first into the water.

…Water crushed her chest, she needed to breath. But she and Reggie kept sinking deeper. Three tiny sets of kelp-green eyes flashed in the darkness and followed as they fell.

Everything was silent. And then all went dark.


Emma is not looking forward to the swim meet, and, after being caught in the continuous rain, the idea of being wet again doesn’t thrill her. Neither does being on the team with the three girls who’ve been bullying her since her last adventure, Root Bound, the first volume in the “Emma and the Elementals” series. Emma has noticed that these girls are now taking direction from their swim coach, Mrs Malaqua, and it appears now both Emma and Reggie are in danger. When their water-fearing friend Mani is pushed into the pool by Babs, Reggie immediately goes in to save him. Emma dives in too, fearing they both will drown. Rather than being able to reach Reggie and Mani, they are all pulled into the depths of Under and into a race that challenges Emma as she endeavours to save her friends.

      In this second installment of “Emma & the Elementals”, Tanya Karen Gough has pulled readers deeper, literally, into a world of myth and magic. In Under, Mani reappears as Maui, the Polynesian demi-god and Emma’s ally from her last adventure, Leucosia (Leucy), the siren from Greek mythology, joins Maui to guide Emma. As the friends navigate through the dangers of the Yesno jungle and treacherous seas that surround a barren island, the three bullies join the witch in one final challenge. The bullies have morphed into an octopus, an electric eel and a turtle, and the witch appears as a vengeful bunyip. With the help from Maui, Leucy and her head mistress, who again appears as the stone goblin Amulet, they battle these creatures. When victorious, Emma is rejoined once again with her mother. Although she wants to stay with her mother and is amazed by her new life-giving powers, Emma is guided out of Under and back home with Reggie now healed and full of his own stories of adventure.

      Water Works is darker than Root Bound with Emma’s concern for her own safety and also that of her friend Reggie, who spends the bulk of the novel wrapped in a shroud-like cocoon near death. The story is lightened somewhat by the abundant use of onomatopoeia and readers will enjoy the light humour. One caveat to reading Water Works is that, unless you have previously read Root Bound, you will find the new story confusing due to the myriad of characters and the author’s assumption that you know their relationships. Lacking the usual catch-up and quick recap of the storyline that other authors often weave into subsequent novels in a series, this book does not hold up as a stand-alone read. The story is quite complex, though a mature reader with knowledge of Root Bound will be able to navigate the waters with satisfying results.

      As previously noted, Water Works is the sequel to Root Bound and the second of four books in the “Emma and the Elementals” series. Currently the author is writing the third, titled Heat Wave. Tanya Karen Gough established Poor Yorick Shakespeare Catalogue and has contributed to a number of Shakespeare-related publications.


Libby McKeever is the Youth Services Librarian at the Whistler Public Library in Whistler, BC.

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

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