CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 14 . . . . March 2, 2007
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.
Mary Thomas works in an elementary school library in Winnipeg, MB, and has some experience with focused kids—mostly one of her own!
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.