CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 12. . . .November 25, 2016
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).
Libby McKeever is the Youth Services Librarian at the Whistler Public Library, in Whistler, BC.
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