________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 14 . . . . March 2, 2007


The Golden Boy. (A Sirius Mystery).

Beverley Wood & Chris Wood.
Vancouver, BC: Polestar/Raincoast Books, 2006.
387 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 1-55192-953-8.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Mary Thomas.

*** /4



"Guess you couldn't hear me coming, could you, Patsy Ann?" the man said in a sort of affectionate growl. ..."Who's your friend, then?"

He seemed to be speaking to Patsy Ann. Clutching his newspaper, Tomi nodded a noncommittal hello. The big man stepped back to get a better view of the boy, "You new to Juneau?" For some reason he was speaking even louder now, as though he thought perhaps Tomi was deaf. "First time in Juneau?"

"Yeah," Tomi answered. "My first time here. Just visiting." I hope.

"Speak English pretty good, don'tcha?" The man said this like it was something unusual. "Where'dja learn that, hey?"

The man's attitude rankled. Then again, Tomi was a stranger here and this guy was the size of a football lineman. Across the street he saw Captain Harper come out of a store and step around a row of wheelbarrows lined up by the door. He took a chance.

"Mister, I didn't learn it. I speak it. Just like my parents and my grandparents do." Jeez. What cave did you crawl out of?

The man sneered. "What? They come over in the Mayflower? How stupid do I look?" He stalked off, shaking his head. Tomi caught the words "Damn Japs" floating back to him.


The Golden Boy is the third book Beverley and Chris Wood have written about Patsy Ann, the bull terrier who became Juneau's official town greeter in the 1930s, and, to my mind, this is the best one so far. Patsy Ann was unusual in many ways, not least because, in spite of being totally deaf and unable to hear the ship's whistle, she knew instinctively when a boat was coming to dock in the harbour. In these books, she also is a time traveller. She trots off into the future and brings back someone, usually a young teen with an attitude, who can accomplish a specific task and perhaps learn something before being returned to his own time. She also has a circle of devoted human admirers living in Juneau who are not only prepared to interpret (correctly) her various barks and nudges but are prepared to act on these "orders." However, once you have accepted that Tomi Tanaka, a half-Japanese, half-Anglo 13-year-old from Vancouver, has a mission in "her" Alaska, and that he, Patsy Ann and a few others are going to save Juneau from becoming a ghost town when its original gold mine shuts down, this is a really good story. Tomi learns a lot about himself and what is important to him. He endures some of the racial slurs he's got so sick of hearing his grandmother talk about and, incidentally, does manage to use his talent with things mechanical to find the solution to the mystery of a clockwork figure in the town's museum.

     I like reading about kids who have a real talent in one direction, and I sympathize with their impatience with those who want them to broaden their interests. So I can empathize with Tomi and his troubles with his blended family. It's a good thing that he escape for several weeks from the pressures at home, and the past is a better place than most to allow him to get some perspective on his problems, as well as to accomplish something really useful. Good for Patsy Ann! I look forward to her next import.

Highly Recommended.

Mary Thomas works in an elementary school library in Winnipeg, MB, and has some experience with focused kids—mostly one of her own!

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

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