________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 20 . . . . June 10, 2005


The Hand of Robin Squires.

Joan Clark.
Toronto, ON: Penguin Canada, 1981/2005.
150 pp., pbk., $8.99.
ISBN 0-14-301512-5.

Subject Heading:
Oak Island Treasure Site (N.S.)-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Georgie Perigny.

**** /4


The purpose of my father's plan was to use the sea to protect Edward's store of riches. Were intruders for any reason to suspect there was treasure buried on the island and dig into the shaft, they would never be able to enter the vault because where they dug deep enough to be near the vault area, they would strike the plug of hard soil. Once this plug was dug into there would be nothing to keep the sea water in the tunnel and the bottom part of the shaft from rising sixty feet to sea level, thus flooding out the diggers.

Joan Clark is the author of seven children's books, including the award-winning The Word for Home and Dream Carvers, two short-story collections, and three novels for adults. As a child living ninety miles from Oak Island, her favourite game was burying and finding treasure.

     In The Hand of Robin Squires, Clark masterfully integrates historical facts with fiction in this adventurous novel. Clark, one of Canada's favourite authors, captures the reader's interest as she attempts to unravel the mystery that has taunted many people since 1795. For over two hundred years, people have been searching for treasure on Oak Island which is located just off the coast of Nova Scotia. It is believed that this treasure was buried there after the Spanish and French ships had been attacked and destroyed by the English and the Dutch. To this day, the world's most sought-after treasure hunt continues, but, in spite of all of the attempts, the mystery still prevails.

     In this thrilling novel, Robin Squires, a young teenager, tells the story of how his exhilaration of going to North America with Edward, his uncle, fades as the event turns into a nightmarish experience. Soon after the journey begins, Robin comes to the realization that he has become a prisoner in the hands of his sea-faring uncle. The tale unfolds two years after Robin's ordeal as he attempts to reveal the secrets that are buried with the treasure.

internal art     After the death of his father, Robin is the only person who can help Edward build a contraption that would be used to conceal treasure in the bottom of the sea. For Robin, this is a golden opportunity, and he enthusiastically leaves his grandfather's home in England to embark on a thrilling journey that will have him enduring many obstacles, hardships and enslavement. The harsh reality of learning Edward's true personality as being cold and heartless has Robin wishing he had never agreed to board his uncle's ship, The Queen's Privateer. To make matters worse, Bill Boyles, Edward's shipmate, thinks that Robin is a troublemaker and would rather see him dead. However, Edward recognizes that Robin is a valuable asset in completing his father's invention and plans on keeping Robin alive until the job is done.

     Upon arriving in North America, Robin sets off to explore the area. He soon meets Actaudin, a young Micmac teenager and his dog, Meko. The two boys quickly become friends, and Robin agrees to take Actaudin to his uncle's ship to trade beaver skin for an axe. However, this decision will put Actaudin's life in danger as Actaudin is seized and chained with the rest of the slaves. Actaudin believes that Robin betrayed him and feels that he cannot be trusted. Robin promises to free his friend, but he is now chained and is under close supervision of his uncle and Bill Boyles. Will Robin be able to save his friend's life? Will Robin escape the menacing grasp of his uncle after his father's invention is built? To uncover the answers, one must read The Hand of Robin Squires.

     The Hand of Robin Squires is about uncovering the mystery of treasures, secrets, and deceptions. Joan Clark leaves the readers pondering over the realities of what really did take place on Oak Island. The book includes a postscript as well as an excerpt from the Halifax-Chronicle Herald to reveal some of the mysteries of Oak Island. The book clearly has readers formulating questions and opinions as they search deeper to dig up the truth.

Highly Recommended.

Georgie Perigny has recently obtained her Bachelor of Education through the University of Alberta.

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

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