________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 12 . . . .February 18, 2005


By a Thread.

Ned Dickens. Illustrated by Graham Ross.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2005.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55143-325-7.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4

Reviewed from f&g's.



So, in brief, each of the gang,
"Except Bard,"
Was hanging or trapped in a difficult place.
"Excuse me," sniffed Bard. "I'm allergic to lace."

"I sympathize, Bard," murmured Curtis politely,
"But, frankly, I think that you've landed quite lightly,
While I am, I think, at the end of my thread.
If I am and I fall, I'm afraid I'll be - "

"Wait!" shouted Alice.


Children have explosive imaginations, and in this book we learn how a dangerous eruption creates peril and suspense. Written in rollicking rhyme, By A Thread will thrill and delight young readers. Its rhymes are clever, the illustrations and layout add to the fun, silliness and sense of danger young Beo and her toys experience.

     The story starts out innocently enough. Beo (who takes her name from Beowulf) and her toys are "busy pretending." The toy box volcano demolishes the room, leaving everyone except Bard the Bear hanging in precarious positions over a bottomless floor. Bard lands softly in the underwear drawer from where he uses his ingenuity to fashion rescue cords. He subdues their panic and coaxes his friends to safety. They are immensely impressed with his quick thinking and surprised at their own courage. Everyone takes part in a group hug as they all head downstairs for another adventure at lunch. Mother, of course, has been monitoring the situation all along, and lets it run its exciting course.

     This book is a fun read-a-loud with expressive illustrations by Graham Ross that will delight the reader. The illustrations are drawn from unusual angles with characters whose fear is palpable, and Ross draws differently on each page. There is no predictability—each turn of the page is a thrill. The text changes size, position and colour to correspond with the story. In some books, this kind of complicated design can be dizzying and annoying, but in By A Thread the design is complementary and enjoyable.

     Ned Dickens is a Toronto playwright whose Beo character has been written into a play, Beo's Bedroom.

     This is a book that can be read and reread and enjoyed each time. By A Thread would make a fine purchase both for the school library and for the bookshelf at home.

     Parents should be prepared to find toy boxes exploding all over bedrooms all over Canada.

Highly Recommended.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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