________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 11 . . . . January 23, 2009

cover The Edge is Burning. (HIP Edge).

Paul Kropp. Illustrated by Catherine Doherty.
Toronto, ON: HIP Books, 2008.
104 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-897039-33-5.

Subject Headings:
Arson-Juvenile fiction.
Teenagers-Juvenile fiction.
Best friends-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-11 / Ages 12-16.

Review by Todd Kyle.

** /4

cover The Edge is Burning: Teacherís Guide.

Lori Jamison.
Toronto, ON: HIP Books, 2008.
20 pp., stapled, $5.95.
ISBN 978-1-897039-32-8.

Grades 7-11 / Ages 12-16.

Review by Todd Kyle.

** /4


When I came to, I was on the kitchen floor. My hands and feet were tied together. Another rope was tied to the table so I couldn't move.

Marco was on the other side of the room. He was tied up, as I was, but he was still out cold. There was blood dripping from his mouth, and his forehead was already turning black and blue.

"You killed him. You killed my best friend."

I heard a laugh from behind me.

"Not yet, kiddo," said a voice.

Sixteen-year-old Nick and his family barely escape when their home catches fire. Suspecting a rash of arson as other homes burn in his Edgemont neighbourhood, Nick teams up with his friend, Marco, and Marco's cousin, Rosa, to investigate a real-estate firm that is trying to buy up properties in the area for a condo development. Getting too close to the truth, Nick and Marco are tied up in Nick's burning house but rescued at the last moment by Rosa and the police.

     Part of a series of high-interest, low-vocab novels published for reluctant and remedial readers, this book is a decent, if not imaginative, attempt to create a fast-paced mystery at a grade 3 reading level. The storyline is taut and full of cliffhangers, with little in the way of character development or description.

     Some readers might be hungry for more insight into the decaying suburban neighbourhood and even a little more romantic tension between Nick and love interest Rosa, but the intention of this book is nothing more than to keep teens reading who would otherwise not read. At that, it does an admirable job, but not one that breaks the mold in the way that a book like Diary of a Wimpy Kid does for a younger, also reluctant, crew.

     Although the vocabulary control of books like these may sometime seem to strangle the creativity, The Edge is Burning is an important addition to the literacy arsenal, especially for school libraries.

     The teacher's guide is a very handy and easy-to-use supplement for when the book is used in an educational setting, with background thematic readings, exercises, and discussion points.


Todd Kyle is a former President of the Canadian Association of Children's Librarians who is currently a library branch manager in Mississauga, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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