________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 17 . . . . April 25, 2003

cover Summer of Changes. (Summer Series #1).

Ann Alma.
Victoria, BC: Sono Nis Press, 2001.
172 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 1-55039-120-8.

Subject Headings:
Schizophrenia-Juvenile fiction.
Mother and daughters-Juvenile fiction.
Wilderness survival-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Liz Greenaway.

**** /4

cover Summer of Adventures. (Summer Series, #2).

Ann Alma.
Victoria, BC: Sono Nis Press, 2002.
144 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 1-55039-122-4.

Subject Headings:
Schizophrenia-Juvenile fiction.
Family-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Liz Greenaway.

**** /4



Mother still wasn't home. Anneke looked up and down the street. Mother was starting to wander farther every day, it seemed. I haven't checked her medication either, Anneke thought. I forgot.

She looked for the pills but couldn't find them. After making macaroni and cheese for herself and Sheera, she got her pillow and lay down on the floor to watch TV. She fell asleep, but woke to a loud crash in the kitchen. Sheera didn't bark, so it had to be Mother.

"Ohhhmmm, ohhhmmm," came the chant.

When Anneke blinked through sleepy, half-closed eyes, she saw Mother dressed in heavy snow boots, shorts, and her fake-fur coat. She was holding a smoking twig into a candle flame.

Anneke's eyes flew open. "Put that out. Where were you?"

Mother continued chanting.

Anneke glanced at the clock. "It's after midnight, for heaven's sake." She grabbed the twig and blew out the candle.

Eleven-year-old Anneke never invites friends to come over as she's never sure how she will find her mother when she gets there. If she's taken her medication for schizophrenia, her mother may be making cookies. If she hasn't, she is often standing on her head and chanting, if she's home at all. Lately, her mother has been wandering off more and more.

     Anneke is the protagonist of the “Summer Series,” realistic adventure stories by award-winning B.C. author Ann Alma. In the first book, Summer of Changes, Anneke goes out on her own, with her border collie, Sheera, and moves into a cave near her home in the Kootenay mountains. Her survival skills are good as she's been taught by former foster parent, Larry, about what to do in the wild. When she realizes that her mother is in the hospital after being hit by a car and that there is a huge organized search under way for her, Anneke is determined to keep on living alone until her mother can re-join her in their home.

     However, after surviving a thunderstorm and a cougar attack, she is ready to be found. The rest of the book figures around her difficult adjustment to life in a family, that of her foster parents, Larry and Eileen and baby Elishia. Anneke is used to looking after herself and her mother and is not ready to give up some of her freedom. Her foster parents respect this as much as possible, setting up an outdoor workshop for her to live in, as well as practise her talent for carving.

     In the second book, Summer of Adventures, Anneke is still living with Larry and Eileen who would like to adopt her officially. It is hard for Anneke to accept that her mother may never live with her again now that she is out of the hospital and in a group home.

     While Anneke struggles with this decision, she has many other decisions to contend with -- a search for a Japanese treasure leads to a reckless decision and a longer adventure as Anneke and her friend, Ken, have to survive until help can arrive when they get completely lost.

     Despite the heavy emotional content of these books, the books are very much adventure driven. The resourcefulness of the protagonist is reminiscent of novels like My Side of the Mountain. The books are fast-paced and extremely well written. The author's ability to draw likable characters is equally strong. The dialogue and emotionally charged central issue are handled well without ever sounding overly sentimental. The scenes with Anneke's adoptive family are real and touching as are those with her mother. I also liked the way the author incorporated painful Canadian history into the second novel via the discussion of the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.

     This series would be an excellent addition to any school or classroom library.

Highly Recommended.

Liz Greenaway has worked in bookselling and publishing and now lives in Edmonton, AB.

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

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