________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 6 . . . . October 14, 2016


In Over Her Head. (Hannah Smart, Book 3).

Melody Fitzpatrick.
Toronto, ON: Dundurn, 2016.
186 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $12.99 (pbk.), $12.99 (pdf), $8.99 (epub).
ISBN 978-1-45973-160-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-45973-161-5 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-45973-162-2 (epub).

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Aileen Wortley.

*** /4



"Good morning, everyone." Captain Steele takes a sip from his tiny teacup. "So can we start now? No one has chosen to be ill this morning or to sleep in?"

Excited to draw attention to the fact that I'm on time and I have my sea legs about me (Massimo's seasickness bands rock!) I decide to answer his question. So, in my most professional voice I say, "Yes, Captain Steele. Everyone is on time and we all appear well."

I hope he notices my professionalism and realizes that I'm a team-player, and not just some seasick, excuse-making, semi-celebrity kid who's just on this expedition because I have an "in with the station."

"Hannah," the captain says, sucking air in through his nose, "The question was rhetorical."

"What's that mean?" (I've learned it's always best to ask when you don't understand something; otherwise you end up making yourself look doubly dumb.)

"It means I wasn't looking for an answer."

"Well, then why did you ask?" I say shrugging.

The captain sighs angrily. "I was making a point."

I shake my head. "Well, you were still asking a question."

Hannah Smart literally 'embarks' on her third adventure as she climbs aboard ship! She has been invited to participate in a treasure-hunting reality show for teens. With her fear of water (she doesn't even like bath-tubs!) and propensity for sea-sickness, Hannah would rather decline, certain the venture will end in disaster. When she learns that her latest crush A.J. will be on-board, she hastily accepts. Unfortunately, his old crush, the 'perfect' Piper Steele, daughter of the ship's demanding captain, will also be part of the adventure. With her usual vigorous determination, Hannah resolves to overcome her sea-faring limitations, resulting in hilarious or near disastrous results. And though she has some control over her own abilities, she has no control over Piper's machinations aimed at sabotaging her reputation.

      This volume follows the rather predictable formula of the previous two books in the series, Operation Josh Taylor and On a Slippery Slope, that recount Hannah's escapades. Once again, readers are confronted with Hanna's complexes, her good intentions, her complicated attempts to conform and save face that often result in calamity, and an antagonistic female out to get her! Nevertheless, In Over Her Head is a funny, lighthearted page-turner in a series that continues to appeal to those aged 9-12.

      Despite its frenetic quality as Hannah moves from one desperate situation to another, the book is well-written and captures the dialogue and self-absorption that some teens exhibit. Despite her rather privileged life, Hannah also makes noble attempts to rise above her weaknesses. The plot is a fast-paced frolic that keeps readers involved and entertained. Piper's malice is rather extreme, and the resolution, as usual, over-simplified – but despite in some ways being lightweight, the book also provides some life-lessons about being your own person, doing your best, and taking the high road. Hannah has her own type of courage and lots of initiative and resilience.

      Although the series was intended as a trilogy, could it be that the end of In Over Her Head sets the stage for a further Hannah Smart escapade, one somewhere in Paris?! If so, it is sure to be greeted enthusiastically by Hannah fans.


Aileen Wortley is a retired librarian who lives in Toronto, ON.

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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ISSN 1201-9364
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