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


The Complete Screech Owls. Volume 2.

Roy MacGregor.
Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart, 2006.
426 pp., pbk., $19.99.
ISBN 0-7710-5486-6.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4


Kidnapped in Sweden.

Terror in Florida.

The Quebec City Crisis. (Screech Owls Series No. 7).
See review at Vol. V, No. 6, November 13, 1998.

The Screech Owls Home Loss. (The Screech Owls Series, No. 8).
See review at Vol. V, No. 6, November 13, 1998.



Travis curled at the blueline, cutting across the ice to his off wing. Dimitri read the play perfectly and moved to Travis’s wing. Travis was now on the right, Dmitri on the left, as Nish broke straight up centre, carrying the puck.

Sarah saw what Nish was about to do, and she used her shoulder to ride Slava out of the play.

Slava’s coach was leaning over the boards, shouting “Interference!” But no referee, not even Borje Salming, was going to call that. Sarah’s pick was just a smart play. (from
Kidnapped in Sweden.)


Roy MacGregor hit upon the winning combination of imbedding mysteries within hockey settings, and he continued producing this highly attractive reading fare through 20 novels. His publisher has now repackaged the “Screech Owl” books which feature left winger Travis Lindsay and the rest of his 12-13-year-old teammates on a co-ed peewee hockey team, the Screech Owls. Each of the five volumes contains four novels which are presented in the order in which they were originally published. MacGregor brings solid credentials to writing hockey-based fiction. A former minor hockey player and a minor-hockey coach for over a decade, MacGregor once followed the Ottawa Senators for the Ottawa Citizen, and he coauthored Home Game with Ken Dryden as well as independently authoring other adult hockey titles.

     Solving crimes takes a backseat to playing hockey in Kidnapped in Sweden (1997) where the Screech Owls are overseas competing in the inaugural International Goodwill Pee Wee Tournament which involves teams from seven countries. The book's mystery component revolves about the Russian Mob's attempt to kidnap for ransom Slava Shadrin, the Russian peewee superstar. Four Screech Owls, including Travis, become incidental hostages during the kidnapping, but they later manage to rescue Slava and subdue his captors. The book's real excitement comes through MacGregor's creation of on-ice action as the Screech Owls advance through the tournament and ultimately meet the Russians in the championship game which is decided by a dramatic sudden-death shootout.

      Off-ice activities, rather than hockey, feature more prominently in Terror in Florida (1997) which sees the Screech Owls bussing to Florida to participate in the Peewee Division II Spring Break Tournament. To save money, the team is staying in a campground where the boys’ attention is caught by an attractive woman who is accompanied by two mysterious men. When not competing in the tournament, the team spends its time at Walt Disney World. The word “terror” in the book’s title has a double meaning. In part, it is the emotion that Travis and the team’s newest player, the diminutive Simon Milliken, experience when confronted with going on the ride known as the Tower of Terror in which an elevator drops 13 floors in less than two seconds. Although Simon publicly avoids the ride, thereby leading to even more teasing by the team’s joker, Wayne “Nish’ Nishikawa, Travis, the team captain, manages to slip away unnoticed. Near the book’s conclusion, both Simon and Travis, however, confront their fears and successfully ride the plummeting elevator. The team’s other connection to terror comes when they somewhat accidentally become involved in foiling an attack by domestic terrorists, the aforementioned woman and her two companions, who were planning to kill the American president during his visit to Disney World the following week. Hockey is not entirely ignored, and the Screech Owls play three games, the last being the championship game which they win in overtime.

      Fine reading fare for the reluctant male middle schooler, each of these volumes is also economically priced.


Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in YA literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

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

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