________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 5 . . . . October 6, 2017


Caged. (Orca Soundings).

Norah McClintock.
Victoria, BC: Orca, November, 2017.
106 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1499-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1500-1 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1501-8 (epub).

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Stephanie Johnson.

** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



"Clancy! Come on, boy!"

He still didn't come. And I couldn't see him anywhere.

I went down the porch steps and around to the other side of the yard, calling his name.


I started getting a little scared. I walked all around the house and right to the trees at the back of the yard. I checked the fence while I was at it. It was solid. There was no way anything could have got through. Was there? And there was no way Clancy would have jumped over it. He knew better than that.

So where was he?

Clancy whimpered in the darkness. He had been out in the yard, relieving himself, when he saw the meat. Right there. Right in the yard. He ate it. It tasted so good, especially since he was already hungry for breakfast. That was all he remembered until he woke up. He didn't know where he was, but he knew he wasn't at home.

He had woken up in a small space. A box with a door with metal bars on it. But it wasn't the cramped box or the inky darkness that made Clancy whimper with fear. It was the smells all around him, and what they told him.

Waking up to find his dog, Clancy, missing, Kenzie immediately embarks on a mission to find his best companion. Kenzie puts up posters, asks all around town and still does not find a trace of his dog. When Gayle, an oddball girl at school, tells him that the town has had many dogs disappear without a trace, Kenzie begins to think that maybe Clancy is in bigger trouble than he could have imagined. Putting his detective skills to the test, Kenzie discovers a suspicious van that could lead him to his missing dog, and, when the police don't help, Kenzie slips inside the van and arrives at a secluded cabin in the woods. What he discovers there is the answer to all the missing dogs – an underground dog fighting ring. Luckily for Kenzie, he finds Clancy with only a few injuries, and once Clancy is set loose, Kenzie proceeds to free all the other caged dogs before managing to escape from the evil men running the place.

      As part of the "Orca Soundings" series, Caged is a short, high-interest read aimed at reluctant readers. Typically, these books are about contemporary and relatable topics, but this particular title came across as outlandish. The story has a good beginning as it immediately launches into the fear and concern Kenzie has for his missing dog, but, as the plot continues with implausible scenes like Kenzie hiding in a random van and ending up at a dog fighting ring, the book loses its footing in reality. The writing style of Caged is another area which lacks appeal. Although books of this nature are typically more simple than standard fiction, the writing of Caged comes across as too basic. There are extremely short sentences that do not read well, and the vocabulary doesn't include variances in its complexity.

      Caged may appeal to some readers, especially those interested in dogs, but the implausible story and unstimulating writing make this an onerous read.

Recommended with Reservations.

Stephanie Johnson is a graduate of the Master of Library and Information Studies Program from the University of Alberta and is the Director of Devon Public Library.

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