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


Two Foot Punch. (Orca Sports).

Anita Daher.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2007.
167 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55143-876-4.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**** /4


I race along the front edge of the building, so that they can see me, and jump down to the roof one level below. I roll out and check the street. Good. They're following. I stay where they can see me. Ignoring their shouts, I leap the next space to the roof beyond. Let them think I'm a gazelle! Let them think I'm some sort of freaking superhero. They've probably seen parkour in the movies, though I doubt they'd have known what it was. They don't strike me as the kind of guys who are interested in healthy activities.

I'm not about to take the kind of risks stuntwomen take in the movies, but these guys don't know that. I pick up speed and wall-hop to the last roof, the one with three levels. Now I turn right out of their line of sight. But before I do, I glance over my shoulder to see if they're keeping up.

They're out of shape so they're a little behind. At the back end of the building I check out the roof across the alley. It's the same level as the one I'm on, but it's too far away. The alley is narrow, but there's still no way I can jump it.

I don't have to.

In this action-packed adventure for young adults, Nikki is confronted not only with her own grief at the death of her parents but also with her brother Derek's tremendous guilt, feeling he was responsible for the house fire that killed them. The siblings' relationship seems to be deteriorating hopelessly until Derek finds himself in trouble and Nikki's love for her brother prevails.

     This book has the elements of any good thriller - chase scenes, kidnapping and ransom, a criminal gang, drugs, and the uncertainty of just who the 'good guys' really are. Daher incorporates such contemporary issues as gangs and grow-ops into an urban environment she knows well - downtown Winnipeg. The book is written at a grade 4 level and so is ideal for reluctant readers, but the mixture of emotion and action in the plot will appeal to any teen reader.

     Much of the novel centres on the sport of parkour. According to Wikipedia, "the physical aspect of parkour is getting over all the obstacles in your path as you would in an emergency...An important characteristic of parkour is efficiency. A practitioner moves not merely as fast as s/he can, but also in the least energy-consuming and most direct way possible...Parkour is also know to have an influence on practitioner's thought process.(sic) Traceurs and traceuses experience a change in their critical thinking skills which helps them overcome physical and mental obstacles in everyday life."

     Daher's intense adventure story has a plot which mirrors the fast action of the sport of parkour as Nikki overcomes both the physical obstacles between herself and Derek and the emotional hurdles between them. Daher has done her research. The vocabulary of the sport and its moves, including the "two foot punch" which is the book's title, are seamlessly woven throughout the story.

     This is Anita Daher's fifth book for young adults, and she knows her audience well. Two Foot Punch is approachable for reluctant readers, is thrilling for those who seek the adventure of a fast-paced movie or television script, and is focused on a new and challenging sport which will appeal to athletes of all kinds. It is a current novel and a light and easy read which deserves a space on library or classroom shelves.

Highly Recommended. 

Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON, where she has found a new career as a travel consultant.

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

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