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Bernice Hunter.

Richmond Hill, Scholastic-Tab Publications, 1983.
160pp., paper, $2.95.
ISBN 0-59071-220-9.

Grades 4 and up.
Reviewed by Annette Goldsmith.

Volume 12 Number 2
1984 March

Discover Depression-era Toronto through the eyes of the spunky young girl we first met in That Scatterbrain Booky ¹, winner of the 1981 IODE Award and runner-up in that year's City of Toronto Book Awards. Now Booky is twelve, going on thirteen. Having outgrown her "scatterbrain" stage, she has become an aspiring writer. Hence the letters, complete with delightful malapropisms, signed "With love from Booky."

Hunter's feel for the language of the period is superb; every word rings true. I had to look up "marcelled" hair (a type of permanent wave), but the general meaning is clear from the context. The lively pace and sufficiently self-contained adventures make individual chapters perfect for reading aloud. In fact, the pace is a little too lively; more variety would be welcome. Many episodes, battles with bedbugs, the rare joy and dire consequences of overeating, spring from the family's poverty. Others deal with the broader themes of, yes, love and death. There are no gratuitous happy endings. As children's social history and as just a good family story, this book rivals The Moffats.

The cover photo of Booky pondering a letter in progress is attractive and apt. (Happily, the cover of That Scatterbrain Booky now features a skinny little girl; the original cover photo of an affluent-looking child was incongruous.) Both books are charmingly illustrated with carefully chosen black-and-white family photos and archival pictures from contemporary Eaton's catalogues. The two books need not be read in sequence, but both should certainly be read. The nostalgic, up-beat tone combined with such realistic subject matter will appeal to adults and children both simple and sophisticated.

Annette Goldsmith, Toronto, ON.

¹ Reviewed vol. X/2 1982, p.85.

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