CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 22. . . .June 26, 2009
The Secrets of Dynamite Point. (An Angela and Emmie Adventure).
Halifax, NS: Nimbus, 2009.
131 pp., pbk., $10.95.
Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.
Review by Deborah Mervold.
"I don't know," Emmie started to say. "I don't think I have it in me. I mean, I really want to be on the soccer team but I can't imagine running that much or that fast."
Angela nodded in agreement.
Corporal Burrow thought for a minute. "Look, I'll tell you what I'm going to do for my favourite Nancy Drews." Corporal Burrow looked serious. "I'm going to give you a little challenge. You two start doing an hour's worth of exercise each day. Walk or climb hills or swim or whatever. Right?"
The two heads nodded again.
"And just before the summer's over – say Regatta time- what's that, about two months away? I'll take you through your soccer team's requirements under supervision so you don't hurt anything. I'll bet you both easily pass them. Okay?"
The girls nodded, but with little enthusiasm. They still weren't keen on all that exercise, even if it meant getting a chance to try out for the Mahone Bay Raiders.
Corporal Burrows thought for a moment more. "All right, here's the carrot. If you pass the test, you can sail on the Bridgewater police launch as my guests at the Regatta."
Angela and Emmie are best friends who want to try out for their local soccer team in the fall. They feel that they need to improve their fitness level and look for help from a resident Royal Canadian Mounted Police corporal. She encourages them to do one hour of exercise every day. The girls decide that their best option is to walk, and so they walk toward Mahone Bay and Dynamite Point.
The girls are surprised by the area, its beauty and nature as well as the abandoned rail bed. They decide to investigate and see how and when the area was given its name as well as learn some of its history. They wonder who built the huge dock and the rail line. Christie, another of Angela's friends, goes to visit her 83-year-old grandmother, and Angela walks along with her. They discover that the land around Dynamite Point belonged to Christie's grandparents. Angela asks to visit the grandmother again to hear more about the history of the area.
When Emmie hurts her ankle on one of their walks, the girls are picked up by Alister, Angela's family handyman, who knows more of the history. They feel that they are making some progress in their investigation. One day, about three weeks from the Regatta, when the girls arrive at Dynamite Point, there is a new lock on the fence and red markers around the trees. The girls consider that the area will be closed to further exploration because of the housing development being undertaken by a land developer who will sell lots for summer housing. They are shocked that the beauty of the area may be compromised and nature will be destroyed. The community feels that there is little it can do to stop progress. When the girls discover that Christie's grandmother is getting some minimal rent from the land and that a distant relative is managing it for the grandmother, they realize that the grandmother is being cheated as the land is being divided into smaller lots without her knowledge.
When the bulldozers arrive, the girls take one more look at their favourite spot and see some damage caused by a storm. The storm has also uncovered some bones. The girls report their find to Corporal Burrows who calls in Peter Crane from the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. The government of Nova Scotia recognizes the area as an historical site, and the housing development is stopped.
The story is divided into 16 chapters. The vocabulary is suitable for the intended readers. The plot is developed on many levels. It contains adventure, realism, history and a mystery which would appeal to the readers of this age level. The protagonists are both girls, but male, as well as female, readers could relate to aspects of the story. The adults are helpful but realistic and not overbearing.
The theme of the novel is to believe in yourself and follow your dreams. The girls start an investigation from interest and step up to protect something that they see as valuable. The love of nature also comes through in this story. Readers of historical fiction and adventure novels would enjoy the story as well as those readers who like realistic fiction. The Secrets of Dynamite Point would be a good addition to public, school and individual libraries.
Deborah Mervold is an educator and teacher-librarian from Shellbrook, SK. Presently employed by Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST), she works in the areas of faculty training and program development.
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