________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 16 . . . .April 14, 2006


Flower Power. (Orca Currents).

Ann Walsh.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2005.
107 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-55143-386-9.

Subject Headings:
Mothers and daughters-Juvenile fiction.
Environmentalists-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Carole Marion.

*** /4


Embarrassed, exasperated, angry … that’s really how Callie feels. But she cannot tell the reporter, because this is just another wacky scheme her eccentric mother has concocted to support yet another cause. This time, she’s trying to save an old maple tree from being chopped down. The tree divides her family’s property from neighbour Harold Wilson’s; the tree sits on Harold’s property but hangs over Callie’s yard, scratching her bedroom window when the wind blows. Years ago, when Harold and her Mom were children, their parents built a tree-house in the old tree, and all the neighbourhood kids spent hours hiding and sleeping in it. She can even reach the tree-house from her bedroom, but no one uses it anymore. So Harold wants to cut down the tree and build a garage to store and work on his motorcycles.

Now Mom has chained herself to the tree in protest, moved into the tree-house, and staged a media circus that is disrupting the whole neighbourhood. Callie wants nothing to do with it, but, as usual, Mom is counting on her support and assistance:

“Why are you in the tree? Why is that chain around your ankle?”

“I need your help, Callie. Go downstairs. Beside the phone is a list of places I want you to call.”

“Before breakfast?”

“Before anything. Start phoning.”

“But it’s too early. No one will be up yet.”

You’ll be calling offices. Newspapers. TV stations. They’ll have answering machines or voice mail. Read what I wrote for you to say – every word, Callie – and make sure you give your address.”

“But Mom, you promised to take me shopping for jeans this morning.”

“Your new jeans will have to wait. This is important …”

The first call was the hardest because I got a real newspaper reporter, not the answering machine I had hoped for.

Westside Tribune, Peter speaking.”

“Hello, my name is Callie Powers and my mom is up a tree.”

“Don’t you mean your cat is up a tree, kid?”

“No, my mom.”

“Try the fire department. They’re good at getting cats out of trees. Maybe they also rescue mothers.”

“You don’t understand,” I said. “I’ll read what Mom wrote down.”

“Okay, I’ve got a minute. Go for it.”

I read, “I, Dianthus Powers …”

“Dianthus? What kind of name is ‘Dianthus”?”

“It’s a flower, like a small carnation. Why don’t you just call her Dian? Everyone does.”

“Dianthus is fine. How do you spell it?”

I spelled it for him, then went on reading Mom’s press release. “I, Dianthus Powers, have chained myself to my neighbor’s maple tree and will stay here until he agrees to leave it standing. I will be holding a press conference at the tree at ten o’clock this morning. Please attend.”

“Your Mom wrote that?”

“Of course she did,” I snapped. “I’m not up the tree, am I?”

“She sounds like an interesting lady,” he said.

“That’s not exactly the word I’d use to describe Mom.”

He chuckled. “I know what you mean.”

“How could you? Do you know my mom?”

“No. But …”

“Look, I’ve got a lot of calls to make. Are you coming to the press conference or not?”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. But what do you think about what your mom is doing, kid?”

“Think? I think this is the craziest thing she’s ever done, and she’s done some really weird stuff.”

This humourous and inventive story is full of wit, revealing a 12-year-old girl’s anguish and frustration towards a divorced mother who thinks nothing of imposing her unorthodox views on everyone around her. Reporter Peter Dawl (“Your name is Peter Doll? Really?” “Not ‘doll,’ Dawl. D-A-W-L …” “Good thing you’re not a girl and your parents decided to call you Barbie,” I said. “My mom did want to name me Ken.”) becomes the catalyst that enable Callie to open up and reveal how she really feels about her mother’s frequently embarrassing behaviour. He also provides much of the humour and warmth in the story.

     This brief story is one of many in the “Orca Currents” series for reluctant readers. Written by award-winning Ann Walsh, it will appeal to young teens who will cheer as Callie takes matters into her own hands so that her life can return to normal – well, as normal as life can be with a mother like that.


Carole Marion, a Public Service Librarian with Calgary Public Library’s Shawnessy Branch, has been working with youth and their caregivers for over sixteen years.

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

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