________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 15 . . . . March 16, 2007


Attack by Knight. (Looney Bay All Stars).

Helaine Becker. Illustrated by Sampar.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2006.
66 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 0-439-94621-2.

Subject Headings:
Lacrosse-Juvenile fiction.
Knights and Knighthood-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Stacie Edgar.

*** /4


Reese found himself in a dank, musty hall. Dull suits of armour stood on guard along both sides. As he walked between the rows, the eyeholes in the helmets seemed to wink at him. He kept a tight grip on the coin for comfort.

Reese tried to imagine how it would feel to wear all that heavy armour. I'll never complain about my lacrosse pads again, he thought.

He stood in front of a suit that had a battle-axe clasped in its glove. He could almost hear the clash of metal on metal.

Just for a goof, Reese pretended to swing a broadsword at the knight. "Take that, you can of tuna!"

Suddenly, a ringing voice said, "Pray, desist your foolery!"

     Reese McSkittles discovers historical characters who have been transported into the future and must somehow help them fit into a strange society. Instead of going back in time like other popular series novels, the Looney Bay All Stars teammates try to solve the characters' problems in present day Newfoundland. Attack by Knight involves a pair of feisty medieval knights who continue their quarrels even though they have been transported 500 years into the future.

     However, the two spirited characters come in handy when the Looney Bay All Stars challenge their archrivals, the Trinity Bay Marauders, to a lacrosse rematch. The two school teams, who also compete against each other in hockey, each take one player from the Middle Ages and convince them that it is a duel to the death - or in today's language, bragging rights. Sir Hugh and Sir Waverly accept their assignments so that they, too, can settle their score while playing lacrosse. The referees, pirates from a previous installment in the series, host the game on a dry-docked pirate ship. The All Stars are victorious, and the knights resolve their quarrel with each other. In the end, the pirates and the knights are duelling in the arena parking lot, enticing the reader to seek out the next installment of the series.

     This new series by author Helaine Becker combines many current topics. It is entertaining and adventurous with active characters who play both of Canada's official sports - hockey and lacrosse. There are historical references as well as modern-day problems to be solved. If it can capture the right audience, the series promises to be both popular with young readers and approved by discriminating adults. The award-winning illustrator, Samuel Parent, otherwise known as Sampar, depicts the emotions of all the various characters with black-and-white illustrations that give life to the story.

     Even though the novels have made a promising start, there are some slight holes in the story. In Attack by Knight, there is no explicit link to the previous installment. There is no explanation at the beginning to clarify for the reader the circumstances of the characters and the reason for the time travel. For some unknown reason, the characters just appear. The reader needs to be familiar with the first novel and how it works to figure out what is going on. Yet, to turn a further twist into the plot, it seems that characters from the past volume also remain in the present. This may confuse the reader but could entice them to seek out the next installments, Vikings Have a Field Day and Explorers out of Bounds, to find out what happens when different characters from different times in history somehow interact in the present.

Highly Recommended.

Stacie Edgar recently graduated from the University of Winnipeg and currently teaches in the Winnipeg School Division.

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

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