________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 04 . . . . September 24, 2010


The Gargoyle Overhead.

Philippa Dowding.
Toronto, ON: Napoleon, 2010.
147 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-926607-03-0.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen.

*** /4


"Gargoth stared after her, his heavy arms nearly touching the floor at his scaly feet, his leathery wings held tightly to his back, and a small pouch bulging at his side. At the bottom of the stairs, he looked up at the open door to the roof, the stars beyond twinkling and inviting. He sighed deeply. There were twenty steep stairs to climb to het up to the rooftop, and Katherine had bounded up them in a few seconds.

He shook his winds for a few moments, and a look of concentration crossed his leathery face. His wings began to move, faster, faster, faster. His pushed his chin into the air as he worked his wings harder and harder, finally as hard as he could. His wings were fanning hard enough to blow dust across the floor of the store in little eddies and to gently move some of the closer crystals and bells hanging from the ceiling. They started softly ringing.

But nothing happened. He didn't budge. He sighed and stopped fanning his wings. He started to climb the stairs slowly, mumbling about giants.

And if you have ever seen a gargoyle struggle up a steep set of stairs, you know it is not a pretty sight. "

The Gargoyle Overhead continues the story of Gargoth, a live gargoyle that lives with the Newberry family in Toronto. With the help of Katherine Newberry and their friend, Cassandra, Gargoth is still trying to find his friend Ambergine, the only other live gargoyle that he knows of. At the same time, The Collector, an enemy of Gargoth, is trying to find both Gargoth and Ambergine in order to lock them away.

     The Gargoyle Overhead is the sequel to The Gargoyle in My Backyard. Philippa Dowding has done a great job in continuing her exploration of themes such as homelessness, loneliness and friendship, while still keeping her characters appealing to a variety of readers.

     Gargoth and Ambergine are very appealing characters which are easy for readers of all ages to identify with. While some human characters, such as The Collector, are rather two-dimensional, the primary focus of the story is Gargoth, and his character is well developed. The gargoyles have very human feelings and emotions which will draw readers into the story and into a deeper understanding of the themes being explored.

     The pace of The Gargoyle Overhead is quicker than the previous book, but Philippa Dowding ensures that the book does not feel rushed. Although events over 400 years are covered, Dowding still takes the time and space to ensure that the reader knows what is happening and the context of the event within the story. While The Gargoyle in My Backyard kept the setting in one place and time period, The Gargoyle Overhead jumps around in both time and place in order to tell the story of Gargoth and his adventures over 400 years. Dowding has put most of Gargoth's story together in one narrative, which helps to pace the book well while keeping the narrative accessible to younger readers.

     Philippa Dowding has created an enjoyable and appealing story which should be well received by her readers.


Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen is a graduate of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.

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

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