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ZOE AND THE MYSTERIOUS X

Richard Thompson
Illustrated by Ruth Ohi

Toronto, Annick Press, 1990. 22pp, cloth, ISBN 1-55037-080-4 (paper) $5.95, 1-S5037-081-2 (cloth) $14.95
Distributed by Firefly. CIP


Grades 1 to 3/ Ages 6 to 8
Reviewed by Pearl Herscovitch.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May


An X painted in front of Zoe's house signals the arrival of a man in a yellow hard hat and the relocation of a road through her house. Zoe and her family resign themselves to the noise and start a cafe in their kitchen and a movie theatre in their living room. They invite Zoe's grandmother to live with them and serve as a crossing guard, but she leaves soon after being pelted by a banana peel. The rubbish created by the rushing traffic becomes unbearable, but our heroine saves the day by painting another X, and in a satisfying ending the road is again relocated.

Strongly reminiscent of Munsch's Jonathan Cleaned Up Then He Heard a Sound, this fantasy conveys the sense of helplessness and frustration created by arbitrary bureaucratic decisions. While this is an improvement on Thompson's "Jesse" series, the lengthy, uninspired text makes this less successful than Munsch's story. Ohi's bright, detailed full-page water-colours capture the chaos and enhance the story. A possible companion to the Munsch story.


Pearl Herscovitch, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alta.
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