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Swede, George.

Illustrated by Mary McLoughlin. Toronto, Three Trees Press, c1985. unpaged, paper, ISBN 0-88823-101-6 (cloth) $11.95, 0-88823-102-4 (paper) $4.95. CIP

Grades 3-5
Reviewed by Sally Davis

Volume 14 Number 2
1986 March

The story opens as a birthday party is in progress for a boy of the age when cassette tape recorders are the "in" gift. Each set of grandparents has sent Dudley one. The duplication provides a solution to a problem arising later in the story. After his birthday party, Dudley goes for a walk and meets an old man after he climbs through a broken fence and discovers a trap set for birds, with a bird caught in it. Dudley knows it is wrong to capture wild birds, so he sets about to free the creature, when he hears the old man yelling at him to stop. He is a very poor old man, judging from his "tattered clothes and run down home. Dudley learns that the old man captures birds before they fly south, keeps them caged in his house during the winter months so he can enjoy their singing, then releases them in the spring. It is his one pleasure in life. Dudley gives the old man his extra tape recorder, showing him how to record the songs of birds, and thereby eliminating the need to trap them.

The author puts across the point that it is wrong to interfere with the lives of wild birds. Swede also might arouse the sympathy of the young reader to the plight of the old man living in such poverty. On the negative side, however, if the author meant to portray an unselfish boy, it is questionable that this is so. Would not a better example of self sacrifice have been made if Dudley had received only one tape recorder on his birthday, and he had given that to the old man? Or at least shared his one tape recorder?

Sally Davis, Paradise, Nfld.
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