________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 8. . . October 27, 2017


POV. (Orca Limelights).

Ted Staunton.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2017.
127 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1237-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1238-3 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1239-0 epub).

Grades 8-10 / Ages 13-15.

Review by Karen Rankin.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


I’m hustling along Dundas Street in downtown Toronto, imagining everything framed as a long tracking shot. It’s trickier than it sounds. Try moving and keeping your focus fixed, like a camera’s, instead of letting your eyes roam all over. If you can do it, it makes you king of dizzy. It also makes you stumble into down low stuff you usually would see on a busy street, like small dogs and uneven pavement and panhandlers sitting on milk crates. This spices up the soundtrack, but I don’t recommend it.

I angle right and into the Starbucks at Elizabeth Street. It’s spring, but today is cool enough that when I push open the door, the warm air fogs up my glasses. I lose the shot entirely. I also inhale the nauseating smell of good coffee and bump into someone with a double low fat chai soy latte. I can’t see it, but these days I’ve got a nose that knows.

My glasses clear and there’s Scratch, sitting facing the door, back to the wall. He was sitting that way the last time we met. He could just be protecting his clothes. Scratch is a dapper guy, and spills happen. I shrug my messenger bag higher on the shoulder of my curling sweater and head over.

“Spencer O’Toole.” Scratch stands and we do props, then shake hands like business guys. He’s now rocking a pair of black framed hipster specs like mine, with a white silk scarf and a spring overcoat – black, naturally – worn cape style over one of those slim fit suits, like some French movie director from whenever. I guess you could say directing things is Scratch’s line of work too.

“How are you, my man? How’s Bunny? It has been a day.”

It’s been since Christmas, in fact, when Scratch helped me with something involving my younger brother, Bunny. I’ll explain later.

“Bun’s good,” I say. “I’m good.”

“You want a coffee?”

“No thanks. I work in one of these places. I’m kind of off coffee. Milk too.”

Scratch looks alarmed. “Why? There something wrong with– ”

“Oh, no, no. The coffee’s great. The milk’s fresh. You just get coffee’d out, is all. Sometimes after a long shift you’re wired just from smelling it.”

Scratch nods. “Occupational hazards. We all have ’em.” Scratch’s are probably worse than mine. He sits back down. “Tell me you’re not movied out. You’re doing film school?”

“Oh yeah. I’ll never be movied out. I’m busy right now though, finals and everything.”

“First year?”

I nod.

“Remember it well.” I guess I look surprised, because he says, “Business admin and marketing. Good program. Learned to read a balance sheet.” Scratch smiles. “Had to quit after second year – too much real business to run, you understand.”

I nod. There are interesting movies about Scratch’s business. Boyz n the Hood, for instance. Or maybe Goodfellas. Scratch sips his coffee, keeping it well away from his scarf.


As per the above excerpt, Spencer, 18, is in his first year of college and works part time as a Starbucks barista. He also lives with his parents, Jer and Deb (his younger brother being temporarily out of the picture). Scratch runs the Fifteenth Street Posse, of which neither Spencer’s parents nor the police approve. However, Scratch has decided to ‘diversify’ and manage a bluegrass/rap band, BlueGrap; so, he offers Spencer a thousand dollars to make them a promotional music video in just 10 days. Before agreeing, Spencer wants to hear the band. To do this, he has to go to a bar. When his dad insists on tagging along since Spencer is underage, Spencer asks him to pretend he’s a film professor, not his father. At the bar, Jer – a music aficionado – makes a much better first impression than Spencer on the members of BlueGrap and Scratch. From then on, they all want Jer, who knows nothing about making videos, to be their video producer. Instead of telling them the truth, Spencer continues the deceit and pretends to relay Jer’s instructions in order to make the band members do what he wants for the video. At the same time, he makes sure that his father doesn’t actually meet with BlueGrap a second time by telling them that Jer has a heart problem. Spencer spends an intense few days filming with the band in various locations, from a rehearsal studio, to a cottage, to a green room, to a graffiti filled alley in Toronto. On day nine, just after Spencer tells the band members that Jer died, one of them sees him walking along the street, looking very much alive.

     Spencer has a convincing, good relationship with his parents. He uses “care and discretion” in deciding how open to be with them about some aspects of his life and would rather figure things out on his own than let them solve his problems. But, he takes a musical tip from Jer, and at another time thinks, I may be channeling Deb here. … Don’t you hate it when your mom’s advice turns out to be right? When it comes to making the video, he definitely has his own, unique point of view (pov). With some deftly chosen details and authentic dialogue, Spencer, his parents, Scratch, and the members of BlueGrap not only come to life, they practically jump off the page. Readers also get not only some insight into how a low budget music video is made but also some realistic sketches of Toronto and cottage country northeast of the city.

     Staunton’s writing is tight, the pacing is perfect, and the plot has some nice surprises.

     POV is another great addition to Orca’s “Limelights” series. While it may be intended for reluctant readers, POV will likely be enjoyed by all.

Highly Recommended.

Karen Rankin is a Toronto, ON, teacher and author of children’s stories.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

© CM Association

This Creative Commons license allows you to download the review and share it with others as long as you credit the CM Association. You cannot change the review in any way or use it commercially.

Hosted by the
University of

Commercial use is available through a contract with the CM Association. This Creative Commons license allows publishers whose works are being reviewed to download and share said CM reviews provided you credit the CM Association.

Next Review | Table of Contents For This Issue - October 27, 2017
CM Home
| Back Issues | Search | CM Archive | Profiles Archive