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Heather Conkie

Toronto, HarperCollins, 1991. 106pp, paper, $4.50
ISBN 0-00-647036-X. Road to Avonlea series, #4. CIP


Gail Hamilton

Toronto, HarperCollins, 1991. 123pp, paper, $4.50
ISBN 0-00-647041-6. Road to Avonlea series, #6. CIP


Fiona McHugh

Toronto, HarperCollins, 1991. 124pp, paper, $4.50
ISBN 0-00-647038-6. Road to Avonlea series, #5. CIP.

Grades 4 to 7/Ages 9 to 12
Reviewed by Pat Steenbergen.

Volume 19 Number 6
1991 November

In The Materializing of Duncan McTavish Marilla Cuthbert is goaded by the smug ladies of the sowing circle, who think they know everything about her, into fabricating a long-ago beau named Duncan McTavish. Imagine her consternation when a travelling patent medicine salesman named Duncan McTavish arrives in Avonlea. The ending is satisfying to anyone who has lived in a small town or told a fib to polish his or her image.

In Quarantine at Alexander Abraham's Felix and Sara enter the house of the local recluse on a dare. Meanwhile, Mrs. Lynde, searching for a truant Sunday school pupil, forces her way into the same house. Unfortunately, the truant has smallpox! During the resulting quarantine, Rachel Lynde transforms not only the house but also its curmudgeonly owner.

In Conversions, a visiting missionary inspires Sara to try missionary work in Avonlea. The town's treatment of the-local "witch" and the children's treat­ment of the Rose cottage hired boy are the focus of the conversions.

Each of the novels follows its televi­sion version closely and includes four pages of stills as well as 3 cover illustra­tion from the film. Considering the number of authors used for the "story­books" and teleplays, the writing is remarkably consistent, although Heather Conkie's portrayals are more sympathetic. The novels do not suffer from the traditional problems of formula paperbacks — the characters have some depth and the situations and dialogue are not entirely predictable. Although numbered, the stories do not need to be read in chronological order, and perhaps should not be, otherwise it will be disconcerting to find #5 featur­ing events which are referred to in the past tense in #4.

Young readers, especially girls, will enjoy these visits to Avonlea whether or not they have seen the original pro­grams. The books would also serve as introductions to Lucy Maud Mongomery's Anne books for good young readers or less able older readers.

Pat Steenbergen, City of York Board of Education, Toronto, Ont.
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