________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 8 . . . . December 10, 2004


No More Pranks. (Orca Soundings).

Monique Polak.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2004.
100 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-55143-315-X.

Subject Headings:
Practical jokes-Juvenile fiction.
Whales-Juvenile fiction.
Kayaking-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 10-12 / Ages 15-17.

Review by Christina Pike.

**** /4


One thing about pranks is that they kind of have a life of their own. Once a prank gets started, you can't just call it off. Especially when you've got a guy like Real winking at you like crazy when you push the kayak with the lady and her hubby off from the shore. "Bon voyage!" I tell them, and I can't help thinking it may be more "bon" for me, watching from the shore, than for them.

You should have heard the woman scream. It was like what they describe in mystery books as bloodcurdling. Real and I and the rest of the crew had a perfect view. We were out on the cliffs by the beach, and the Real had brought along the binoculars from the office. I was looking through them when I saw the husband pass the suntan lotion over to the wife. Then I saw her reach into her pocket and scream.

I saw the scream before I actually heard it. I guess that has something to do with how sound travels when you're out on the water. It's a good thing kayakers sit so low in the boat. Otherwise, I think the woman might have fallen in. And then who knows what could have happened to her extremities?

Uncle Jean paddled right over to see what was happening. I saw him talking to the woman. Then he looked up at the cliffs where we were. Which is when I put down the binoculars. Only, by then I knew it was too late.

Monigue Polak in No More Pranks is the story, told in first person, Pete Larkin, 15. Pete, or Pierre as his uncle and aunt in Tadoussac call him, has pulled one too many pranks. In this last prank, he has targeted his teacher, Mr. Quincy, and gone too far. His parent are fed up and send him to stay with his aunt and uncle in Tudoussac for the summer. They are hoping that a summer working at the B&B and kayaking business will help Pete to mature. It isn't until part way through the summer and a couple of pranks later that Pete finally learns his lesson.

     Polak has created the character of Pete as a typical teenager with a chip on his shoulder. His troubles in school and at home are somebody else's fault. This isn't, however, a quick fix story but a story that is a realistic portrayal of life. Pete doesn't just wake up and realize the errors of his ways, but he struggles to find out who he really is and what is important to him. At the heart of this journey, he realizes what motivates him to pull these pranks. As Pete comes to terms with this motivation, it isn't an easy realization. In this book, Polak has succeeded in telling Pete's story and making it more than a happy-ever-after ending. She has capture the teenage mind while still making her point. A good read.

Highly Recommended.

Christina Pike has been seconded to the Department of Education, Evaluation Division, in Newfoundland.

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

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