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Yvonne Wilson

Illustrated by Elizabeth Owen
Halifax, Wildthings Press, 1990. 154pp, paper, $6.95, ISBN 0-929065-02-6
Distributed by Nimbus Publishing Ltd., 3731 MacKintosh St., P.O. Box 9301, Station A, Halifax, N.S. B3K 5N5. CIP

Grades 3 to 6/Ages 8 to 11
Reviewed by Jane Robinson.

Volume 19 Number 2
1991 March

Slipper Harbour is a wonderful place for a "...large, unusual family" such as Andrew's to spend a summer of adventure. In her first novel for children, Yvonne Wilson has created such a place - an enormous old house with unlimited character and nooks and crannies on a piece of seaside with miles of sandy beach and garden and hillside just begging to be explored.

But it's doubtful that the intended audience would discover that, since the jacket cover of this book would be completely unappealing to eight- to eleven-year-olds perusing a bookshelf. The cover shows, in black and white, a huge squid in the foreground and two very young-looking children in the background.

And even if readers were to come to Slipper Hbr., by chance, choice or through teacher or parental guidance, they would be disappointed, perhaps even confused by the characters and the action of the story.

The characters of Andrew's family, with the possible exception of a tan­trum-throwing, defiant little girl named "who-Heather," are not at all believable, nor do they seem of an age or interest appropriate to the intended reader. The action of the story, which consists of a series of adventures involving the five children in the family, are either rather ordinary or again, neither age- nor interest-appropriate.

Younger children may find parts of the book funny and be more able to relate to the children and their adven­tures, but the length and vocabulary of the book then dictates that it be read aloud over an extended period of time. This would allow the adult reading the book to clarify and discuss the often confusing interplay between real and imaginary.

The text is heavy on dialogue but Wilson's capability and background as a university-level writing teacher are evident in her narrative, which never rushes any image or event, but takes the time to describe it simply yet fully.

Jane Robinson, Winnipeg, Man.
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