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WILD NIGHT.

Godfrey, Martyn.

Don Mills (Ont.), Collier Macmillan, 1987. 90pp, paper, $4.95, ISBN 02-947420-5. (Series Canada). CIP

Grades 6 and up
Reviewed by Maryleah Otto

Volume 16 Number 2
1988 March


There are almost two dozen titles in "Series Canada," a group of high-interest, low-vocabulary melodramas for adolescent non-readers. In this one, Tony, a sixteen-year-old boy who works the night shift in a convenience store, is held up by "a punk" who seems to have a gun under his coat. Tony already has his hands full because a suicidal teenage girl has phoned the store by chance, begging for help from anyone. Then a pregnant young woman in advanced labour comes in, and Tony, with the verbal assistance of an arthritic old crone who was once a nurse, finds himself delivering a baby. Meanwhile, there's a scuffle between the punk and the store owner, who trips and injures his head in a fall. Since the phone has gone dead, Tony persuades the punk to drive the store owner and the new mother to the hospital, but not before the eccentric old nurse has made a valiant attempt to get the punk to seek help for his drug addiction. He makes the trip to the hospital all right, but once that's over, he takes off with the store owner's car.

Too much? Well, that's a lot of yarn to spin into ninety pages of large type and plenty of pictures, but the intended audience will probably love it. Godfrey's style is perfect for the purpose: bare bones plot, violent action, abundant dialogue in contemporary street language without the usual obscenities. Greg Ruhl's black-and-white illustrations are really excellent, easily conveying as much of the storyline as the text does. The full-colour cover is boldly inviting.

Teachers of language arts will find good use for this type of material in motivating reluctant readers in grades 6 and up. I have a reservation, however, about the topics and language used in hi-lo books. Although the readers of these stories will easily identify with them, they are in a way putting down these young people by presenting role models with a low socio-economic background, it's as if the formula for this material wereŚ"Yes, this is literary junk food, but these kids don't want anything else anyway." Well, maybe junk food is better than starvation, but there's still a segregational element that disturbs me.


Maryleah Otto, London Public Library, London, Ont.
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