________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 13 . . . . March 4, 2005


Running Scared.

Brenda Chapman.
Toronto, ON: Napoleon, 2004.
122 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-894917-14-6.

Subject Headings:
Hit-and-run drivers - Juvenile fiction.
Children of divorced parents - Juvenile fiction.
Responsibility - Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**** /4


Then, in a moment that I was to relive over and over, I watched in horror as her collie pulled her into the road just as the car swung around the corner and swerved into her path. She was sent hurtling into the air, landing with a horrible thud and lying motionless, her legs twisted at a funny angle. Somehow, the dog wasn't hit. It immediately sat down and began to howl - a sound so haunting that it filled me with panic. I felt my hands go up in the air and my mouth formed a silent scream.

This first novel of Canadian author Brenda Chapman is likely to make her a favourite among young mystery readers. The title and cover both predict a story full of scary events, and the tension begins to build in the first ten pages.

     Thirteen-year-old Jennifer Bannon is protagonist of the story and deals with many typical teen stresses: homework, bad marks in grade nine, making the volleyball team, boys....to say nothing of the recent breakdown of her parents' marriage. But then things get really difficult when Jennifer sees a hit and run accident and is sure the car belongs to her father. The tension mounts with anonymous phone calls, suspicious people following Jennifer, anonymous notes, and an "accident" which befalls her younger sister, Leslie. The horror affects Jennifer's relationships with everyone in her family and with her friends as well. Jennifer has a tough decision to make: tell everything she knows and risk hurting someone she cares about or remain quiet and keep secrets.

     The tension and excitement build early in this novel, and Chapman manages to cast suspicion equally on several characters, keeping the reader guessing right to the end of the book. The final solution is somewhat contrived, but this doesn't detract from a successful novel. Chapman's work is certain to please mystery fans and may convert other readers to the genre.

Highly Recommended.

Ann Ketcheson is a former teacher of high school English and French and currently is the teacher-librarian at Peterborough Collegiate in Peterborough, ON.

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

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