CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 17 . . . . April 18, 2008
As the novel opens, Justin has made the varsity baseball team at his school, quite a feat considering he is only a freshman. The only other freshman to ever crack the team was the major league player, Booker Wilson, and that was over twenty years ago. The fact that Justin is a less than stellar student and has managed to attain grades high enough to meet the team academic standard is further evidence of his commitment to baseball. But with farm chores, baby-sitting, schoolwork, and baseball practice, Justin's time is stretched to the limit. In order to keep up with all his responsibilities, Justin decides he needs a bike. His friend, Brad, has one for sale, but Justin doesn't have the money. Because family finances are beyond tight, his Mom can't help. To solve the problem, he ends up selling the baby billy goat Kate had given him for Christmas.
Though it seemed like a good idea at the time, Justin and the other children soon learn that the man who bought the goat is an animal abuser, and so the group sets out to steal Billy back and hide him at an old, abandoned farm. This works as a short-term solution, but the young people have to come up with a more permanent arrangement — and soon, because Mr. Grimstead — the man from whom they stole Billy — knows what the children have done and has the police on their trail.
To further complicate matters, Charlie Martin reappears after a four-year absence, and, after getting reacquainted with his children, he presses Justin to come and live with him. In the face of all these problems, it is not surprising that Justin's marks slip and he is in danger of being kicked off the baseball team even before the season has started.
To round out the novel, Jordan has thrown in some teen angst about girls, peers, and family relationships. The storyline surrounding Brad and his family is less than convincing, and there is a bit too much moralizing for this reader, but the interaction of the characters is great. Though not as poignant as Lost Goat Lane, The Goatnappers is a very satisfactory read.
Kristin Butcher lives in Campbell River, BC, and writes for young people.
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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.