________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 19 . . . . May 26, 2006


The Raspberry Room. (Orca Echoes).

Alison Lohans. Illustrated by Gillian Newland.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2006.
59 pp., paper, $6.95.
ISBN 1-55143-353-2.

Grade 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

***½ /4


Maybe Laura didn't hear. The raspberry patch was at one end of the yard. The swings were in the middle of the yard. The grass was in between. Laura kept on swinging.

Abby kicked some dry leaves. Laura had been busy all week. At last she had time to play. But all Laura wanted to do was swing.

“Don't you want to see it?” Abby talked loudly, so Laura would be sure to hear. “There's a special little room! It's by the fence.”


Abby lives with her family. Abby has a funny mom. Her mom hides cookies in the dryer. Abby has a fun dad. Her dad lifts her to the ceiling to play tractor. Abby also has a baby brother named Brayden- owner of a stuffed toy monkey. And Abby has a friend named Laura. But most importantly, Abby has found a raspberry room.

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     Abby likes to pretend. She believes in make-believe monsters, and she envisions herself exploring in the raspberry room she discovered in her backyard. Abby especially wants Laura to explore with her. However, bugs, prickly plants and dirt scare Laura. Abby cannot lure Laura away from the swings, not even for a moment, and not even with the words, “I have something to show you.”

     Abby is a little sad when Laura goes home without saying goodbye to her. Laura missed out on seeing the raspberry room, a room where the leaves make up the ceiling, a fence makes up one wall, leaves make up the floor, and where the raspberries resemble red jewels! And not only do you find flowers and insects in the raspberry room, sometimes you might find a toy! Abby finds a red tractor in the raspberry room. She decides to keep the tractor and push some berries and her baby brother's stuffed toy monkey through the knothole in the fence. (The knothole allows the curious to peek through to the neighbour's yard.) Maybe whoever Abby saw and heard on the other side of the fence will enjoy her offering of berries and a monkey.

     The Raspberry Room touches on a few issues, such as being honest; running away from home; and having an accident when you just cannot make it to the bathroom on time. All these are dealt with in a serious, yet loving, way.

     At the end of the story, Abby the explorer in her raspberry jungle, has plans that include monster watching, lunch, and spy-hole peeking. Will it be with Laura or with the mystery person on the other side of the fence??

     Every two or three pages, the illustrator, Gillian Newland, has drawn a picture that complements the text just read. All the pictures, except one, are full page. The illustrations resemble pencil drawings. The pictures are life-like with just enough detail to give the characters emotion and depth. Seeing that stuffed toy monkey lying in the puddle, in the rain, with stuffing coming out of his bum makes me feel a little sad. I'm sure children will want to rescue him too!

     This chapter book will surely be enjoyed by everyone who appreciates imagination…………. and secret rooms.

Highly Recommended.

Tanya Boudreau is a Youth Services Librarian and Resource Librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

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

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