________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 19 . . . . May 11, 2007


Cobra Strike. (Orca Sports).

Sigmund Brouwer.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2007.
163 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55143-725-5.

Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**** /4


Normally, I wouldn't have noticed. But after the weirdness with the county health inspector and the newspaper reporter, and with my mind on underground rivers and possible pollution from a big coal-mining company, the black car made me nervous.

I shut my tape recorder off. I turned left at the next corner, turned left again a block later, and finally made another left back onto the same street I had started on. The black car stayed with me the entire time.

It was following me.

I didn't know what to do.

Would the driver try something crazy once I was on the lonely road up in the hills?

I grabbed my tape recorder again. This time, however, I didn't practice Shakespeare. Instead I said, "F-f-five-th-thirty-f-five PM.” I was so nervous my stutter made it hard to talk. "A c-c-car is f-following. B-black. L-late model F-f-ford, probably a C-crown Vict-t-t-toria. I w-will k-keep rec-c-ord of events."

I felt stupid, as if I was in some sort of movie. But if something did happen - like the black car stopping me and the driver trying something - I would report as much as I could before hiding the tape recorder under the seat. Whoever found it later would at least know what had happened.


Roy Linden plays for his high school football team, and the season looks bright now that the Johnstown Striking Cobras have Waymen Whitley, a new star quarterback. However, life gets more complicated when Roy discovers that the water near his grandmother's cabin is polluted and this is all somehow linked to the Johns Corporation, the town's main employer, Waymen's father, and even Roy's own future football career. Roy wonders who will help him get to the bottom of the mystery or if he can trust anyone in town.

     Brouwer touches many themes in this young adult novel. Readers will enjoy the thrill of the sports story, the adventure and mystery of the toxic waste story, and the human interest story about the friendship between Waymen and Roy. Friends help each other both on and off the playing field, so Waymen is patient with Roy's stuttering and admits that he has always had problems with reading.  Eventually the two boys work together to solve the mystery of the pollution, a situation which no one seems to want to acknowledge.

     Orca books are designed with reluctant readers in mind. Cobra Strike is both high interest and low vocabulary, and the chapters are short. However, the book comes across not as an 'easy-read' but rather as an interesting and exciting action novel which will keep readers happy to continue right to the end. Characters are well-defined, and the setting and language used will appeal to the intended audience of pre-teens and early-teens, likely boys in this case.

     Librarians and teachers always need a supply of reasonably short, well-paced and up-to-date novels for the student who "can't find anything to read."Cobra Strike fills the bill!

Highly Recommended.

Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.


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

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