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Paul Kropp
Richmond Hill (Ont.), Scholastic Canada, 1992. 168pp, paper, $4.50
ISBN 0-590-74062-8. CIP.

Grades 5 to7/Ages 10 to 12

Reviewed by Ray Doiron

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

With many of the same story elements as The Three Stooges, this novel for young readers is built on slapstick humour, situation comedy and exaggerated characters. An Ontario family of five arrives at their uncle's state-of-the-art chalet for a ski holiday in the company of Fred, a clumsy, awkward university student who seems lo invite disaster wherever he goes.

The story centres on the misadventures of Fred and Justin and Jason, the brothers in the family. They have the usual tumbles on the ski slopes, hair-raising rides on snowmobiles, and attempts to impress a girl. Well-known character types arc drawn, with children being "cool" and "with it" while the adults are "old-fashioned" and fail to understand their children.

We see little growth in the characters, with most emphasis on moving the predict­able plot forward. The one original clement is the talking computer, who controls the environment of the ski chalet. This "charac­ter" never really reached full potential in the story, being left out of many situations where it could have added greatly to the comedy.

The roles of the father and mother portrayed in the family and the ski-off between the two males, who fight it out over the affections of the young female ski instructor, leave the reader with a sense that many out-of-date stereotypical situations are being reinforced in this novel. Some readers may even object when the computer tells the boys that to succeed in romance they need to be caring, to have confidence and lo take control. There is no explanation why the goofy and oddball character Fred is even in this family, and his personality fluctuates between complete idiot and fearless hero.

Young readers will enjoy the antics on the ski slopes and may see Fred as a likeable, bungling fool. They are unlikely lo find this story lasting or anything more than a very light escape.

Ray Doiron, Glen Stewart Elementary School, Southport, P.E.I.

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