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


Under the Sea With Googol and Googolplex. (Orca Echoes).

Nelly Kazenbroot.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2005.
64 pp., pbk., $6.95.
ISBN 1-55143-366-4.

Subject Headings:
Humans-alien encounters-Juvenile fiction.
Robots-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-3 / Ages 7-8.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

** /4


Troy and Pippa jump out of the pool and run toward their friends. Googol and Googolplex bleep and blurp happily when they each get a hug.

"Hello, we humans. How are you doing?"

Pippa laughs. "I guess we're a bit soggy."

"Never mind us," Troy says. "How are you guys? You've been gone for ages."

Googol bleeps sadly. "Yes, we were given another job to do. We have to count all the moons in your solar system before we can continue our scavenger hunt here on Earth.

"Now that we've counted your moon, we have to fly from planet to planet and count all the others," Googolplex explains.

"No you don't," Pippa says. "I can tell you how many moons there are in our solar system."

Two friendly robots return to Earth to continue a scavenger hunt that began in the first book, Down the Chimney with Googol and Googolplex. This time, human friends Troy and Pippa provide a tutu and accompany the robots to the Philippines to find peacock feathers but return empty handed. The children's elderly neighbour, Madame Myfanwy, gives them peacock feathers from one of her old ballet costumes. The robots and children collect sand dollars on the beach only to have them broken by antagonist Martin Kelly. The robots find more when they learn to swim as the tide comes in. The scavenger hunt is interrupted when the pair is seconded to help Madame paint her house on the last day of their Earth visit, thereby paving the way for another book.

     The author uses a combination of omniscient viewpoint and viewpoint shifts between the robots and children. The result is a good deal of telling, rather than showing, and considerable use of passive voice. While present tense helps to create a "you are there" feeling, character development is limited, and the reader feels distanced from any close involvement with a single main character, or team of characters. This story lacks tension as each small problem is easily solved, and there is no high point in the action. Martin Kelly appears briefly in the second half of the book as a mild 'nuisance', (his only act is to kick a bucket of sand dollars over) rather than the bully bent on revealing the robots' presence. His more active role in the first book kept the reader guessing about the outcome. His 'demise' - being scared off by what he thinks are sharks in the water (actually kelp) - has nothing to do with the kids or robots.

     This book is linked to the first one with rather vague references such as, "they had some real adventures hiding from Martin...." For young readers who enjoyed meeting these characters in Down the Chimney with Googol and Googolplex, this second light-hearted adventure will have some appeal. As a stand-alone, however, it is less satisfying.


A former teacher-librarian, Gillian Richardson, who lives in BC, is a freelance writer of children's fiction and nonfiction.

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

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