CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 41. . . .June 22, 2016
Weerdest Day Ever! (The Seven Prequels).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2016.
198 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1155-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1156-0 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1157-7 (epub).
Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.
Review by Mary Thomas.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
THIS STORY IS TRUE -- most of it. Some parts I will have to make up because I dont remember every word people said way back then. But mostly its true. You wont think so but it is. Like the war. Yah there reely was a war. Or the cow. Or the hollow tree. Or what happened to the 1 arm man. That was funny all rite.
It all happened a while ago. Im in Grade 10 now and this was back at the end of Grade 6 so -- that long ago. Grampa took me and Spencer camping. No one else. No Mom or Dad or the other cousins. Just Grampa and me and my brother. Thats what this story is about. We stayed over night but it was Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning so it was really only 1 day. I culd call it My Day with Grampa or My Day with Spencer. Only I didn't see much of them and some reely weerd things happened. I mean really weerd. So Im calling it Weerdest Day Ever! I think thats the rite title.
OK I will start now.
Bunny, our dumb bunny (a joke that no one ever makes, by the way, unless the very fact that he is called Bunny rather than Bernie as a nickname for Bernard), is back, just as thick, just as kind, and just as bumblingly well-meaning as in the two previous books, Ink Me and The Wolf and Me. And why not? This story is after all a prequel to the others in that it is told as a Grade 10 English assignment: "Write a story about a time with a family member." So Bunny harks back to the summer after Grade 6 when he, his brother Spencer, and their grandfather, that same Grampa who may or may not have been a spy, set off on an overnight camping trip in the park at Queenston Heights, or, as Bunny puts it, "Queen something Park". History isn't really his thing. Grampa lets the two boys go off on their own, merely setting rules about checking in and so forth, but saying that he wants them to have fun, that "this is not a normal weekend at the park. There will be surprises."
The first surprise, one not planned by or even reported to Grampa, is that Spencer loses his new, very expensive, cell phone which he had been expressly told not to take with him. So Bunny goes off alone, searching for it and exploring at the same time, and finds himself in the midst of people wearing uniforms, carrying guns, and even firing them. He meets a couple of young Indians wearing fringed leather and feathers and, through observation and conversation, gradually comes to realize that there is a war scheduled for the next day between the Americans and the Canadians. Bunny is worried. 'Fiting' is something his dad does not approve of, and he has tried to instill in Bunny that it is very wrong. (Bunny is a big guy for his age; his father has a good point!) It is totally obvious to the reader that this 'war' is a re-enactment of the Battle of Queenston Heights, part of the War of 1812, complete with Laura Secord and her cow; so Bunny's misunderstanding of the whole affair, including total puzzlement over what part chocolates could play in a war, just gets funnier and funnier.
While I am not a fan of books written and spelled badly just to be in the 'authentic' voice of a young protagonist, in this case it works well. I am, however, grateful to Scrimger for not having Bunny write as he would have after Grade 6 and before he got some very good teaching while he was in jail. Ink Me was pre-jail, and I found it a trial to decipher.
Any teacher trying to talk about the War of 1812 would have great fun with this as a novel study or read-aloud. It is true that Bunny is not a deep character, but he means well. As he said to his grandfather, "You should do what you want Grampa. Unless it hurts someone." That's his rule -- and I agree that it's a good one. So is the book.
Mary Thomas lives and occasionally works in Winnipeg, MB. She has enjoyed the “Seven” series and hopes that Ted Staunton will take Spencer back to the same camping trip. I want to know what happened to his cell phone!
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