Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

Devil’s Pass, by Sigmund Brouwer, 237 pages.

“The animal responsible for the huge prints had been here very recently. “Don’t move” said George suddenly. Webb looked up the trail and saw it. The grizzly.”

Seventeen-year old Webb survives on the streets of Toronto by busking with his guitar and working as a dishwasher.  When he undertakes to solve a fifty-year-old mystery, as requested in his beloved grandfather’s will, he finds himself hiking on the isolated Canol Trail in the Canadian far north wilderness with a native guide, two German tourists and his guitar. There’s danger at every turn: grizzlies, wolves, the cold and deep, fast-flowing rivers. However, it doesn’t take long for Webb to discover that the greatest danger isn’t a grizzly or a wolf … it’s a man.

Readers will sympathize with Webb - an imperfect but likeable protagonist – in this suspenseful, fast-paced survival story full of danger, adventure, intrigue and the unexpected. The conclusion is fitting and believable.

Devil’s Pass is one title in a new series entitled Seven the Series. Written by seven different well-known Canadian authors, such as Shane Peacock, John Wilson and Eric Walters, the books are well-written and can be read in any order. (The stories – each featuring one of the seven grandsons of David McLean - happen simultaneously and separately from one another, but all seven are linked.)  The Seven the Series adventures are already proving to be quite popular with older elementary and younger high school readers, especially boys.

** Recommended for ages 10 to 14 years.

The Sports Pages, edited by Jon Scieszka, 245 pages.

Children’s author and former teacher Jon Scieszka (who wrote “The Time Warp Trio” books, among others) has long been dedicated to getting boys interested in reading and becoming life-long readers. The creator of the popular web-based “Guys Read”  literacy program for boys ( ), Scieszka has now written a new series of books, also entitled “Guys Read”.

The Sports Pages is the third and most recent volume of the series. A total of ten short stories (eight fiction plus two short memoirs by NHL player/captain Dustin Brown and CBS sport anchor James Brown) have been written exclusively for The Sports Pages, each by a different author.  There are stories of both victories and defeats. A couple of the tales involve bullying. A variety of sports – hockey, basketball, baseball, football, mixed martial arts and track – are represented in the stories, which are appealing, often light-hearted and even humorous.

One story, “The Trophy” by author Gordon Korman, recounts the valiant efforts of a team of high-school students to win a coveted basketball trophy, the Interboro Cup, only to have it “kidnapped”.  (Readers will chuckle at the place in which the trophy is finally located.)

Another selection, “Max Swings for the Fence” by Anne Ursu, features a boy who tries to become accepted in a new school by claiming that his father is a famous baseball player.  (The result, predictably, is a “whopper” of a strikeout.)

The Sports Pages will interest boys who participate in sports as well as those who are spectators.  Previous titles in the “Guys Read” series are Funny Business and Thriller, also located at the Stratford Public Library.  

** Recommended for ages 9 to 14 years.

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on January 24, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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