________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 10 . . . .January 20, 2006


The Lost Locket.

Carol Matas. Illustrated by Susan Gardos.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1994/2005.
70 pp., pbk., $4.99.
ISBN 0-439-98973-6.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Meredith MacKeen.

**** /4



A Rotten Recess

The first thing we did at school the next morning was math. I used to hate math but Mrs. Lester makes it fun and this year I've been getting all VG's.

A small group of us sat around a table with Mrs Lester while the other kids worked at their desks. And guess who ended up sitting right beside me? Curtis. Now, you'd think Curtis, being the jerk he is, would also be a stupid jerk. But the weird thing is, he's smart. Especially in math.

Anyway, what I can't understand is, if Curtis is so smart, why isn't he smart enough to know that bullies don't have friends and everybody hates them?


Carol Matas has created a very likeable and believable eight-year-old, Rosaline, who narrates her experiences after she receives a locket that belonged to her great grandmother. Rosaline recognizes immediately the significance of this gift and, of course, wants to show her classmates her precious locket. Despite her mother's advice of not taking the gift to school, Rosaline succumbs to temptation and predictably the locket is stolen.

     Recognizing that the locket might be a liability in gym class, Rosaline removes it from her neck and tucks it away inside her desk. Upon her return, she realizes that the locket is missing and is terrified that her mother will find out. She enlists the help of her best friend, Sam, and by chance, she plays a game with a friend who likes to act like a robot. The robot reveals who has taken the locket, and the girls develop strategies to retrieve the locket from the school's biggest bully. Ben, Rosaline’s younger brother, sometimes wanders into her class, and this time Rosaline suggests that he visit Curtis, the bully, who has jelly beans in his pockets. Ben is disappointed when there were no jelly beans and begins to hit Curtis. As the fight develops, Rosaline plays her part, saving her brother by the use of a karate move that she has learned. At supper that night, Ros explains the whole problem while her parents listen critically. Ben leaves to search for something, and he returns with the locket, proclaiming it as his. Ros works out a trade, and brother and sister are once again friends.

     Matas has captured well the logic of an intelligent eight-year-old girl and has explored equally well the experience of not following parental advice and the trouble which then ensues. The words, "It all started when Mother placed the small, square, blue velvet jewellery box on the kitchen table," which appear on page one will motivate young readers. As well, Matas adds little bits of detail that enhance the story. For example, when Rosaline is being given the gift on her great grandmother's birthday, she notices that "there had to be something awfully important in the box. Mom had even waited until Ben was in bed so we could be alone." Readers feel for Rosaline as she narrates her traumatic experiences with the locket. This book is a welcome addition to the collection of beginning chapter books for girls.

Highly Recommended.

Meredith MacKeen is a teacher-librarian at Glen Stewart Elementary in Stratford, PE.

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

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