________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 22 . . . . June 22, 2007


Treasure at Turtle Lake.

Peggy Dymond Leavey.
Toronto, ON: Napoleon, 2007.
146 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-894917-49-0.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Lori Giles-Smith.

***½ /4


The place was empty. It smelled of furniture polish and home baking. A plate of cookies sat in the middle of the coffee table, a note taped to the plastic wrap. “Help yourself, Joel. Dad’s bringing home pizza for supper. Love, Chrissy.” The Love wasn’t a word but a stupid little heart above her name.

Did she really think she could buy me off with cookies? The witch! She’d ruined any chance I had of making it here without people knowing what had happened back home. And she was leaving me a plate of cookies.

I punched the buzzer connected to the shop downstairs. Dad’s assistant came on. “Dave’s gone on a pickup,” Ray said when I asked if Dad would come up to the flat.

Great! I snatched a can of pop from the fridge and flipped on the TV, putting my feet up on Chrissy’s polished coffee table. I stared at the plate of cookies. Then I brought the heel of my sneaker down hard, right in the middle of it, and pushed it onto the floor.


After Joel Osler’s failed shoplifting attempt in Toronto, his mother sends him to Turtle Lake to live with his father and new stepmother, Chrissy. While happy to be with his father and escape the shame of his would-be crime, the 12-year-old is not so thrilled with the idea of spending time alone with Chrissy when his father suddenly leaves on a business trip. Joel resents Chrissy for spilling the details of his attempted heist to a classmate’s mother – a classmate, Matt, who seems intent on making Joel miserable. When their teacher’s compass goes missing, Joel is sure Matt is trying to frame him.

     To escape any interaction with his stepmother, Joel takes on a volunteer position at the local animal shelter. He also reluctantly befriends Paige, an intelligent yet odd girl in his class, when he discovers they have something in common. On his bus ride to Turtle Lake, Joel met a strange man who claimed to have a map to stolen treasure. Paige also encountered the same man snooping around her home. With youthful curiosity, Joel and Paige embark on unraveling the mystery surrounding “Bus Guy” and finding the stolen treasure first.

     As the story is told in the first-person, Joel’s angry, resentful thoughts and conversations with others are entirely believable. Struggling to accept his parents’ divorce, Joel smothers himself in self-pity and is looking to blame everyone else for his miserable mood and bad behaviour. Leavey’s careful writing makes readers both care about and be annoyed by Joel. Leavey’s characters are all quite interesting even though readers know very little about most of them. She gives readers only enough information about each person to make readers wish she explored them more fully. Even the dogs at the animal shelter seem to have a story to tell if Leavey would only indulge readers.

     Treasure at Turtle Lake is a fast-paced and an attention-grabbing read. This would be an excellent book for a reluctant reader. As the book is divided into bite-size chapters, the reader can decide to take it slowly or to keep reading “just one more chapter.”


Lori Giles-Smith is an Assistant Librarian at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.


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

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.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.