________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 8 . . . . December 7, 2007


Rebel’s Tag. (Orca Currents).

K.L. Denman.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2007.
104 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55143-740-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55143-742-2 (hc.).

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Marina Cohen.

***½ /4


Indi crosses her arms. “Maybe we should call the café and ask.”       

That’s the upside of having a girl around. I wouldn’t have thought of that. “Sure. Are you going to call?” I ask.

I get another eye roll as Indi goes for the phone book. She’s flipping through it when her father walks in and asks, “Indira, did you finish your homework?”

Indi’s dad doesn’t say hi to me. He used to like me fine when we were younger. Now? Not much. I think he figures I’m a bad influence on his honor roll daughter. And Indi says her dad is always complaining: “Your friend being a boy is not right.” We know what he means, but we laugh about the way he says it. It sounds like being male is a mistake I should fix.

Sam arrives home one day to a mysterious letter from a grandfather who walked out of his life the day of his father’s funeral. The letter sends Sam to a strange restaurant where he receives an old cradle and further instructions. As Sam reluctantly follows his grandfather’s bizarre instructions, he begins to gain a deeper understanding of just who this stranger is and what drove him to abandon Sam all those years ago. In order to cope with all his mixed emotions, Sam turns to his secret passion—climbing on the rooftops of houses at night with his best friend, Indi. Part of this ritual includes leaving his mark—the symbol for the planet Uranus—so that he can continue to feel connected to the exhilarating experience. But one night Sam’s paint can explodes, and he loses more than just his stained shirt.

     Rebel’s Tag is a wonderful novel that will draw reluctant readers in from the get-go and hold them captive until the bittersweet end. Denman’s writing is clean and the voice brilliant. Her dialogue is not only credible, but so real that her characters spring to life. Although Rebel’s Tag teeters on the brink of being overly didactic at times, Denman’s engaging characters, quick pace, marvelous voice and mysterious intrigue will keep her readers hooked.

Highly Recommended.

Marina Cohen has a Master’s Degree in French Literature from the University of Toronto. She has been teaching in the York Region District School Board for over 12 years. Her second novel, Trick of the Light, will be released at the end of November.

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

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