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


The Summer of the Spotted Owl. (A Dinah Galloway Mystery).

Melanie Jackson.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2005.
180 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55143-412-1.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Wendy Williams.

*** /4



Bald Guy sprinted along the sidewalk towards us. "You!" he yelled, pointing at me. "This time I've got you, Dinah Galloway."

He reached across the rumble seat, his fingers stretching toward me.

I mashed the cupcake in his face. With a crank of gears, Zoe lurched her tiny pink convertible away from the curb, spun it in a U-turn and zoomed toward Capilano Road.

Bald Guy, sporting the cupcake on his nose, shouted, "I'm warning you, this is your last chance, Dinah!"


Yes, Dinah Galloway is back, again up to mischief and using her curiosity and spunk to figure out another fun mystery. This time, she and her older, beautiful sister Madge, are house sitting in a luxurious home located in North Vancouver. Dinah loves the backyard pool, and that is where she first encounters some very strange events. A hang glider swoops in out of nowhere, snatches her inflatable turtle, and escapes through the bushes. Also, Dinah's new next-door neighbour, Rowena, who looks rather witch-like, with long flowing gray hair and lots of cats, has been receiving threatening messages and is acting in a peculiar fashion. Can Dinah resist this invitation to do some amateur sleuthing? No, of course not—she plunges right into local politics, investigates her odd next door neighbour, and involves herself in the future of the endangered Spotted Owl. Also, she feels she should help her sister, the painter, who is trying to paint a mural on the living room wall of their temporary home. Sister Madge keeps painting the mural over, but she finally triumphs in achieving an artistic breakthrough.

     The “Dinah Galloway Mystery” series (The Man in the Moonstone, The Spy in the Alley, The Mask on the Cruise Ship), set in Vancouver and using local landmarks and settings, is lively and entertaining. The west coast landscape of British Columbia makes an impressive backdrop to Dinah's latest adventures. Vancouver is the real star of this book, but Dinah is a bright, brave and bothersome heroine as she pokes her nose into local politics and even local environmental issues. Dinah is too young for romance and is still largely unaware of other people's feelings, characteristics which place her firmly in the pre-teen set. At times she is a pest, and at other times she becomes a buddy to the sister she teases and the boys that she meets. Reading about the Spotted Owl has never been so much fun, and so parents can feel confident that their young readers will gain some excellent information about wildlife while enjoying the adventures and suspense of another “Dinah Galloway Mystery.”


Wendy Williams is a school librarian and a confessed bookworm in Calgary, AB.

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

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