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


Martin Bridge Sound the Alarm.

Jessica Scott Kerrin. Illustrated by Joseph Kelly.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2007.
110 pp, pbk. & cl., $5.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (cl.).
ISBN 978-1-55337-977-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55337-976-8 (cl.).

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Ellie Contursi.

*** /4


As he scrambled toward the back, he noticed that Thomas, one of the older passengers, was smirking at him.

Martin paused to look down and check himself out. He was wearing his superhero jacket like always, but it wasn't zipped up funny or anything.

Martin continued down the aisle. When he passed by, Thomas called out sarcastically, "All systems ready, Captain?" and gave Martin a mocking Zip Rideout salute.

The older boys on either side burst out laughing.

Martin fumed. He knew perfectly well that Thomas used to love Zip Rideout. Thomas was one of the few kids who owned a complete set of Zip Rideout cereal cards and could act out entire scenes from Zip's television show complete from memory. But now that he was almost in Junior high, Thomas made fun of almost anything that had to do with Zip -- and anyone who liked the space cadet.

"Zip Rideout: Space Cadet" is Martin's favourite cartoon hero even though his schoolmate Thomas teases him no end. Martin knows Thomas used to love Zip as much as he does. Why would Thomas own the complete set of Zip Rideout cereal cards and memorize scenes from the TV show? Martin didn't care; no one could change his loyalty to Zip.

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As readers move along into the story, things start to get very interesting when Martin's friend Stuart calls him to come and help him run an errand for his mother. Stuart's mom owns a toy store called "The Toy Box." Stuart needs to fetch a remote she needs for a display and take it to the store. Once it's delivered, Martin and Stuart begin to explore the toy store. Naturally, they head for the Zip Rideout aisle. There, at the end of the aisle, they find a huge model of Zip Rideout's rocket ship, and it's fantastic! The boys climb in and act out scenes from one of the cartoon episodes. The inside of the ship is lit up with control panels making it easy to act out any scene from their favourite cartoon. Finally, when it's time to go, the lights go out in the rocket. They feel their way to the hatch and get out of the ship but realize the toy store is closed and that they are locked in. They can't even reach a phone to call someone about their predicament. With time on his hands, Martin finds the most difficult thing he has to deal with is his fear of mannequins, and sadly there are mannequins in the store. He remembers a childhood event that helps him to come to terms with his fear. Now he is ready to signal for help using flashlights they found. The story ends with their riding home in a police car with the sirens sounding.

     Martin Bridge Sound the Alarm is an entertaining story that children will be able to relate to. The story includes elements of peer pressure, childhood fears and, more importantly, coming to terms with the fear. Black and white illustrations are throughout the story. A great first novel for kids ready to move beyond easy reader books.


Ellie Contursi is a Children's Librarian in London, ON.

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

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