________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 41 . . . . June 22, 2018

cover

In the Buff. (Orca Currents).

Vicki Grant.
Victoria, BC: Orca, August, 2018.
131 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1882-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1883-5 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1884-2 (epub).

Grades 4-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Kay Weisman.

**½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.

   

excerpt:

My grandfather's name is Alan J. Smithers, but everyone calls him Gump. He's old and he's skinny and he's really cranky.

He's also naked.

Like, totally butt naked.

And not just at bath time. I'm talking 24/7.

I'm used to the old, skinny, cranky part of him. I'm even kind of okay with it. He's been like that for as long as I can remember. The butt-naked part is new, though, and I don't like it.

After a fight with his wife, Rupert's grandfather, Gump, packs up and moves into Gentle Breezes Nudist Community for Active Seniors. The family is concerned by Gump's behaviors, but since everyone is very busy, it falls to 13-year-old Rupert to visit the old man and try to talk some sense into him. Gump is predictably cantankerous and resists all suggestions that he put on clothes or return home. Then the old man's blind (and incontinent) Shih Tsu runs off into the forest, and Rupert and Gump take off in pursuit, becoming hopelessly lost. A lost cell phone and an overnight in the woods, as well as encounters with a deep pit, an armed marijuana grower, and a stray panther further complicate their odyssey and delay their rescue.

      Grant's fast-paced, hilarious story is filled with nudity-related jokes, puns, and asides. Told from Rupert's perspective, Grant focuses on the discomfort Rupert feels when he is forced to confront the imperfections of aging bodies. ("His bum looks sort of sad and deflated. It reminds me of a couple of balloons the week after a birthday party. I slam my eyes shut and try to erase what I just saw.") Large print, short chapters, and mostly simple sentences also add to the book's appeal, especially for younger or reluctant readers.

      Adults reading In the Buff may question what kind of mother leaves her young teen alone with an aging relative who has recently exhibited questionable mental judgment, but those realities are not part of this story. Those who can get beyond the premise will find themselves rewarded with a very enjoyable read.

Recommended.

Kay Weisman is a former youth services librarian at West Vancouver Memorial Library.

To comment on this title or this review, contact cm@umanitoba.ca.

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