Fitzhenry & Whiteside
195 Allstate Parkway
March 28, 2005
David Jenkinson, Editor
Dear Mr. Jenkinson:
I am enclosing a copy of a letter recently received from Melanie Jane Banner, which in the interests of fairness, I am hoping you might run in an upcoming issue of CM. Having read and re-read Jane Bridle's review of Ms. Banner's first novel, Smoke, I find myself in agreement with the author's dismissal of the review as ill-informed and needlessly pedantic. Like the author, I too
would hope that young readers will continue to tell other young readers what a marvelous adventure story it is.
Rebuttal from Melanie Jane Banner to Jane Bridle's review of Smoke, CM Volume XI, Number 7
I am saddened, but also bemused by Jane Bridle's pedantic dismissal of my novel, Smoke. She seems to have completely misunderstood the story and I find her criticisms most unfair.
Smoke is not a Natural History book on The Wolf, but a fictional novel of a troubled boy's rite of passage into adulthood, encompassing loneliness, bullying, the breakdown of today's family, homelessness, and ultimately, true friendship and responsibility. The wild animal welfare issue is of course an important integral part too.
Ms Bridle's annihilation of Smoke seems vaguely based on a few debatable aspects of wolf behaviour. I researched the feasibility of this storyline extensively. I talked with specialists, rescue centres, wolf enthusiasts; and of course experts from The Born Free Foundation were very happy with the tale. A UK wild animal sanctuary uses some of its rescue wolves for educational
purposes taking them along to schools, and even onto children's programmes on TV. They tell me some of their socialized wolves have much better temperaments than dogs. And often go inside the house, with children.
I do hope young readers will now flock to buy a copy of Smoke and make up their own minds. I think it would be very sad indeed to rob Canadian children of the joy of a story which has repeatedly been referred to as "the best animal story I have ever read" by children and adults alike in many countries of the world.
Melanie Jane Banner