________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 13 . . . .March 3, 2006


Seven Clues. (Streetlights).

Kathy Stinson.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 1987/2005.
116 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55028-889-X.

Subject Headings:
Treasure troves-Juvenile fiction.
Riddles-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Jo-Anne Mary Benson.

*** /4


The Great Bike Race. (Streetlights).

Kathy Stinson.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 1994/2005.
114 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55028-890-3.

Subject Headings:
Racing-Juvenile fiction.
Bicycles-Juvenile fiction.
Friendship-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Jo-Anne Mary Benson.

*** /4


One More Clue. (Streetlights).

Kathy Stinson.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2005.
115 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55028-888-1.

Subject Headings:
Magicians-Juvenile fiction.
Jealousy-Juvenile fiction.
Treasure troves-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Jo-Anne Mary Benson.

*** /4



Tripping over their own and each other’s feet, Matt and David scurried toward the gate. They were almost there when they heard deep, bellowing laughter. It sounded like some kind of maniac ghost. Huffing and panting, the boys kept running till they were safely back inside Matt’s tent. There they huddled, shivering, deep into their sleeping bags (From Seven Clues).


They were off. Lennox, Amanda, and the kid with the big mouth took early leads. Matt thrust forward and pedalled hard along Sandhurst. He gained quickly on the flashing fenders ahead of him. Then all his practice taking corners at high speeds paid off.

He leaned into the turn onto Booth, cutting close to the big-mouth as he passed him. Coming out of the turn, Matt surged past Lennox, too. Amanda was still ahead, but he’d lose her on the straightaway—no sweat.

Matt stood up to gain an added burst of speed. He headed off Amanda just before taking the bump from the street onto the path into the ravine.

Thud. Clank! (From
The Great Bike Race).


Matt slowly reached down for his flashlight. Above him there began a great and sudden rustling, and when he grabbed for the light, he knocked it into the hole, plunging the area around him into sudden darkness. But even in the dark he could see the white thing moving – rolling it seemed now – along the ground. Closer it came. And closer!

The branches of a nearby tree were swaying hard. Up off the ground the white thing lifted, ready to pounce!

Heart pounding against his ribs, Matt darted behind the statue (From
One More Clue).


The first two titles of this Kathy Stinson trilogy were previously released as Seven Clues in Pebble Creek and The Great Pebble Creek Bike Race. They have been rewritten and updated to reflect contemporary times. The third title, One More Clue, is the most recent and final addition.

     In this trilogy of adventure stories, Stinson does a superb job in allowing readers to observe a wide range of feelings as experienced through her characters. The variety of situations with which the main character, Matt, is confronted in all three titles present him with unexpected dilemmas. Each situation is unique and thought-provoking and will no doubt encourage readers to contemplate what they would do in similar situations. All the books revolve around the interrelationships between friends and the resulting challenges and rewards. The element of fun and adventure is constant throughout yet Stinson delivers numerous lessons as well. The stories are nicely paced and encourage continual reading. They can be equally enjoyed on their own or in sequence. The books will hold appeal to a range of youngsters with easy reader identification. While recommended for ages 6-10 as part of the Lorimer “Streetlights” Series, the books are probably more suitable for the upper end of this age group.

     In Seven Clues, young Matt Randall thought his summer was going to be incredibly boring. Mike, his best friend, was out of town, Sam had moved away, and everyone else seemed to be on holidays. Matt was left with a decrepit old bike and an outdated computer. One day, when he was feeling particularly dejected, Matt returned home and received a mysterious postcard. Written in rhyme and unsigned, the postcard was the first of seven clues just waiting to be discovered. What Matt thought was going to be a dull summer became a fascinating journey of adventure and discovery.

     Kathy Stinson does an excellent job in keeping the reader intrigued and in suspense throughout this book. Readers will easily relate to the feelings held by the characters in the story as they have probably have had similar experiences. No doubt they will vicariously embark on a search to solve the clue themselves while trying to guess the clue’s source and its meanings. While delivering an enjoyable read, Stinson adds depth to her story by touching on the values of friendship and trust. One will also learn that preconceived opinions about people are not always correct.

     Matt Randall’s summer continues to take unusual turns in The Great Bike Race, the sequel to Seven Clues, as the narrative again heavily revolves around the dynamics of friendships. Matt is fortunate to have several friends: David, a boy whom everyone thinks of as a geek; Amanda, a deaf girl who moves in next door; Lennox, Matt’s best friend; and Mr. Grubb, a neighbourhood senior. Matt soon discovers that having friends can be rewarding but, at times, a frustrating experience, especially if they don’t get along. When Pebble Creek announces a Centennial Celebration featuring bike races, the friends find they are pitted against each other. A variety of circumstances unfold prior, during, and after the race that make for pleasurable reading.

     Throughout the narrative, Stinson allows readers to observe demonstrations of loyalty and friendship as well as fun and competitiveness. Stinson beautifully captures the excitement and enthusiasm that takes place at a small town celebration and everyone’s involvement. Through Amanda’s character, one can subtly appreciate some of the difficulties a deaf person encounters. Amanda, however, is portrayed as a very strongly motivated and determined young lady. While people sometimes do not get along, the characters of David and Lennox show that individuals can respect each other’s differences.

     In One More Clue, the final and most recent title of the trilogy, youngsters, by now, can revel in their familiarity with the fictitious Pebble Creek. The consistency in Stinson’s writing makes readers feel a part of the neighbourhood rather than outside observers. In One More Clue, Matt finds unusual items in Mr. Grubb’s attic, one being a magician’s outfit and another, an “old” mysterious rhyme. Both items trigger an intriguing sequence of events. In this title, readers will become immersed in the fun of magic shows, secret places, and playing cupid.

     The dynamics of friendships and their complexities remain a dominant feature of the third book as well. Stinson shows how everyone can experience feelings of jealousy and animosity towards others, but she shows how things can get resolved. While the search to solve the clue is entertaining, Stinson throws in an interesting twist by having someone else, other than the youngsters, benefit from this exploration. Friendships can involve various age groups, and the youngsters’ friendship with the reclusive Mr. Grubb is very evident and proves to be very positive. This, in turn, reinforces a respect and appreciation for the elderly.


Jo-Anne Mary Benson of Osgoode, ON, is a writer/reviewer for North American magazines, newspapers, and journals.

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

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