CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 18. . . .May 2, 2008
Peril at the World's Biggest Hockey Tournament. (Screech Owls, #21).
Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart, 2008.
154 pp., pbk., $6.99.
Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.
Review by Pam Klassen-Dueck.
Travis was losing consciousness.
First, he could feel the hands, then the thick arms, wrapping around his neck and tightening, hard. Then he was on the floor, kicking, struggling, trying to figure out how it could have come to this.
He was being strangled by his best friend in the world, Wayne Nishikawa.
The Screech Owls are heading to Ottawa to participate in the world's biggest hockey tournament, the Bell Capital Cup, and the Guinness Book of World Records will be on hand to verify this record-setting feat. To add to the festivities, many of the world's top politicians (who happen to be in attendance at a political summit in the city) will be present at the gold-medal game on New Year's Day. Little do the Screech Owls know that a figure of terror, dressed in the perfect disguise, plans to unleash a torrent of death at the tourney's final game.
In Peril at the World's Biggest Hockey Tournament, MacGregor delivers installment #21 of the Gretzky-approved series. In keeping with the prior episodes, Peril's plot moves quickly, the characters (including level-headed Travis and off-the-wall Nish) are as quirky as ever, and the typical adolescent humour never fades.
MacGregor's hockey expertise is put to good use throughout Peril's pages as he includes plenty of interesting hockey trivia. For example, readers discover an amusing history of superstition among NHL players, including the various octopi, dirty fedora hats, and baby-powdered hockey sticks that litter the way to the coveted Stanley Cup. As well, the detailed
descriptions of old-style Russian hockey, with which the Screech Owls are not familiar, are riveting.
The account of the Screech Owls is interspersed with pages from the terrorist's diary in which he details the plan for his attack. Unfortunately, the persona and the actions of the terrorist, Al, are never really clarified, even at the end of the novel. Throughout his narrative are hints that readers should recognize him because of his involvement with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but this is never fully clarified. As well, rather than including a chapter that focuses on the climax involving Nish and the terrorist, the author uses Nish to tell what happened after the fact, an approach which dulls the suspense to a certain extent.
However, despite the abrupt ending, Roy MacGregor's latest installment of the hockey-crazy Screech Owls will entertain fans of the series.
Pam Klassen-Dueck, a middle years teacher, is presently a graduate student in the M.Ed. program at Brock University in St. Catharines, ON.
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