________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 8 . . . .December 8, 2006


Daredevil Club (Orca Currents).

Pam Withers.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2006.
103 pp., pbk. & cl., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55143-614-0 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55143-618-3 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Daredevils-Juvenile fiction.
Determination (Personality trait)-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Todd Kyle.

**½ /4



I started down with no rest. I'd made it. Did that mean they'd let me do the last two? If I could do this, I could probably do the drainpipe crawl, number six, and the abandoned grain elevator just outside town, number seven. There was no going back to the guy I had been three months earlier. But surely, I hoped, it was enough that they'd held off doing number five until I'd mended enough to come along. Hanging from one rotten rung after another, dangling my useless leg beside my working foot, I descended as fast as I dared. Pigeons' wings fanned my face, rain pounded the thin walls of the tower, and cockroaches dive-bombed my ears. Three pairs of feet above me adopted a stop-and-go descent to accommodate me.

Silently I told myself, "They're impressed, and I'm still in the club."


Kip is a young athletic ‘tween who, with his friends Fraser, Vlad, and Caleb, forms the Daredevils. The Daredevils make a list of seven dangerous stunts that they vow to perform, the fourth of which results in severe injury to Kip. Undeterred, Kip undergoes physiotherapy and convinces his friends he is still their leader. When their rivals, the Wildmen, steal their seventh stunt, Kip changes it to a dangerous crawl along a bridge support beam 40 feet over a rocky lake. Fraser and Vlad team up with the Wildmen's leader to complete the stunt on their own. While Kip secretly watches them, he realizes from their conversation that they have excluded him because they fear for his safety. Rescuing Fraser from the inevitable fall onto the lake rocks below, Kip realizes what his friends mean to him. As Fraser recovers, the gang combines their efforts to organize a town carnival to save the fund-deprived physiotherapy clinic.

     Pam Withers has created a mostly believable situation for a boy of Kip's age: an injured athlete who vows to return to his former self, and in doing so takes the same risks that injured him in the first place. Kip is self-possessed and determined, thumbing his nose (at least in his narration) at the entreaties of his largely-unaware parents, his physiotherapist Andrew, and the latter's straight-laced co-op student Elyse. Kip's relationships with his friends display complexity: he is constantly nervous that Fraser and Vlad want to kick him out - they eye his bad leg constantly - and is aware of timid Caleb's reliance on his leadership.

     The writing is decent but not brilliant, even considering the book's high-interest, low-vocab limitations. Certainly Kip's voice is authentic, albeit occasionally long on explanation and short on emotion. The plot line wavers a bit; there are moments of some excitement when the stunts occur, but the foreboding sense of inevitability that marks great adventure or danger novels is not quite fully developed. The climax, when Kip overhears his friends during the last stunt saying that they admire him but know he can't complete this stunt, is actually a deft stroke that brings together the character conflicts in a way that makes sense. The dénouement of the carnival is a bit cheesy, but Kip's final question to Andrew ("Is that a dare?"- referring to a tough physio program he has in store for Kip and Fraser) provides classic comic relief that mirrors Kip's relaxed obsessions. In short, this is a fairly average adventure novel, with considerable appeal to reluctant male readers.


Todd Kyle is a former President of the Canadian Association of Children's Librarians who is currently a library branch manager in Mississauga, ON.

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.