________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 12. . . .November 25, 2016


Bungee Jump. (Orca Currents).

Pam Withers.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2016.
123 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1216-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1217-8 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1218-5 (epub).

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Libby McKeever.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Craven shakes his head like we’re the troublesome ones. “Your sister is bothering the children!”

I stand up so fast I almost fall off the pipe.

“Is Caitlin on Hospital Island? By herself? Now?”

“She’s on Thorn Island. She was bothering the children. They got mad.”

“Where’s Thorn Island, and what children?” Gord asks me. He pauses from scribbling numbers on the plans.

“Thorn Island is what Hospital Island used to be called. And he’s talking about the leper children. I mean, the ghosts of the leper children.” I attempt a chuckle but it comes out like a hiccupy cough. “Sorry, Gord. Gotta go. But my Dad asked me to give this to you.”

Gord accepts the envelope and stares at me. I scramble up and start crawling. My knees are on the pipe. My hands are on the cagelike structure around it.

“Hey! That’s not safe, Christopher Bigg!” Gord calls out to me. “You get down right now. Safer to crawl through if you have to go across, you know.”

“Caitlin crawls through. I crawl on top.” I inform him. Halfway across, while crawling over the hatch, I glance down at Craven. He scowls upwards.

“You’re in charge?” Gord shouts suddenly, waving the letter he has just opened. “A thirteen-year-old is my boss?!” He laughs like it’s the best joke he has heard all day. “Now I’be heard everything!”


Chris’ dad has left home to take a job in the city as their tree farm is in financial trouble. Not only does he need to support his family, but he now needs to meet the bills coming in from a new project, one they are all counting on to save them from financial ruin. This project is the creation of a bungee jump which will be built along an old pipe spanning the water between the family’s property on the mainland and Thorn Island. Chris’ family bought the property including the island, aka Hospital Island, the past home of children who suffered from leprosy.

     Chris, 13 and a budding engineer whose school science project wins first place, is unhappy when his dad needs to leave. He is somewhat mollified though when he is put in charge of the project during the week. He is tasked with keeping an eye on Gord, the engineer, to ensure all safety precautions and procedures are being met. Chris has his work cut out of him as he finds some shoddy workmanship and becomes suspicious of Gord’s abilities. At the same time, Craven, the town’s character, continually tries to disrupt the project’s progress as he believes the Bigg family are “disturbing” the children who used to live on the island.

     Withers’ Bungee Jump is a fast-paced story with twists and a spooky, historical theme that will catch readers’ interest. Chris, a science whiz and an excellent model bridge builder, is a very likable character. Readers will relate to his fears and rally behind him as he puzzles through the mysterious set of mishaps. His sister, Caitlin, is a good ally as well as an irritant at times, in short, a believable sibling.

     Chris and Caitlin are fascinated with the island’s legend and make frequent trips across the pipe (though warned not to) to investigate the old hospital and its grounds. To get there, they need to cross the pipe. Chris has a fear of being enclosed in small spaces and would much rather walk on top of the old pipe than crawl through it like Caitlin does. The legend asserts that the island is haunted by the ghosts of the children who died there, and it becomes all too true when odd accidents begin to happen.

     Withers’ Bungee Jump is an “Orca Currents” title, a high-interest novel written expressly for middle-school students reading below grade level. Withers is a young-adult/middle-grade author of 18 adventure books especially popular with teenage boys, including reluctant readers. She’s also a boys’ literacy advocate, speaker (parenting groups, library and school visits), and a blogger on parenting boys and more. She co-authored Jump-Starting Boys: Help Your Reluctant Learner Find Success in School and Life (Viva Editions, July 16, 2013).

Highly Recommended.

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.

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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