________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 4 . . . . October 15, 2004


Catching Spring. (Orca Young Readers).

Sylvia Olsen.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2004.
123 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 1-55143-298-6.

Subject Headings:
Fishing - Juvenile fiction.
Sportsmanship - Juvenile fiction.
Determination (Personality trait) - Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Julie Hunt.

*** /4


Bobby headed up the dock toward home. He was proud that Dan depended on him to do a good job. He was proud to bring one dollar home to Mom. But when he neared the tackle shop he slowed down and glanced inside at the blue bike. He almost stepped in the door to take a better look, but then he turned away. What was the point at looking at the bike again? By next week some kid would be riding it up and down his street while all the other kids on the street wished it was theirs. He wished he didn't even know about the bike or the derby or Dan Adams.

Ten-year-old Bobby yearns to take part in a fishing derby that he has seen advertised at the marina where he works. First prize is a beautiful blue bike with chrome fenders and at least a million spokes. The entry fee is $5 - a princely sum. Bobby earns only $1 a weekend and shares half of that with his mother so she can buy groceries for the family. Even if he could find the money, how could he possibly enter when Dan is counting on his help on the day of the derby?

     Sylvia Olsen paints a picture of Bobby as a responsible, hardworking boy. Readers will make an easy connection to him and will be hoping that there's some way this likeable character can enter the contest. With his uncle's help, Bobby gets his chance and, at the end of the day, his fish is closely matched to the catch of a sniveling rich kid. Predictably, Bobby wins the new bike, and this happening provides a satisfying resolution to the story.

     Bobby's character is well developed for an easy reading novel. Readers get a sense of his connection to his family, the difficulties of being a championship marble player when competitors tend to shy away from his talent, and his changing emotions throughout the book. Bobby is a Tsartlip First Nations boy, and it is excellent to have this character profiled as the protagonist. Readers may raise their eyebrows at the word Indian used in the book as well as the mother-daughter fishing team who first visit the dock in their dresses and fancy shoes. However, when they realize the story is set in 1957, the context becomes clear. Recommended as a predictable "feel good" story for independent reading.


Julie Hunt is a teacher-librarian in West Vancouver, BC.

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

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.