________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 22. . . .June 26, 2009


Timberwolf Tracks. (Orca Echoes: Howling Timberwolves).

Sigmund Brouwer. Illustrated by Graham Ross.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2009.
61 pp., pbk., $6.95.
ISBN 978-1-55143-734-7.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Jonine Bergen.

** /4



"Guys," Tom said. "What's up?"

"Getting ready for the Wassabee," Stu answered. Stu said to Johnny, "I'm so great, I'm jealous of myself."

"Not good enough."

"When I was born, I was so surprised, I didn't talk for a year."

"Nope," Johnny said. "Still not good enough."

"I stopped to think and forgot to get started again."

Tom began to frown. "This is getting ready for the Wassabee?"

"Yes," Johnny said, "how about this, Stu? Four out of three people have trouble with fractions."

"Huh?" Tom said.


If, like Tom, you responded "Huh?" after reading the quote above, you will want to look for an earlier book in the "Timberwolves" series to familiarize yourself with Johnny, Stu, Tom and the Timberwolves before continuing. If you thought, "They are at it again," this is the book for you. Though Timberwolf Tracks can work as a stand-alone, it will be appreciated more with some time spent with the boys in one of the earlier books (Timberwolf Challenge, Timberwolf Chase, Timberwolf Hunt, Timberwolf Revenge and Timberwolf Trap). More than any of the five earlier books in the series, Timberwolf Tracks relies on the reader's being familiar with Johnny's and Tom's prankster humour.

internal art     Now that Tom is accustomed to living in Howling and playing on the Howling Timberwolves hockey team, it is time to start training for the most important trophy in town known simply as the Wassabee. The Wassabee is the annual fathers-against-sons hockey game played outside on Lake Wassabee. But the Wassabee is far more than just a hockey game. The fathers and sons go on an overnight road trip to play the game, and, on the road, anything is possible. The Wassabee is won by the team with the most points. The fun part, however, is there are two ways to get points: scoring goals, and scoring jokes. Let the games begin.

      Unlike the other books, there is no moral espoused in these pages—unless it is that time honoured adage of men everywhere: "Remember, what goes on the road, stays on the road." Filled with practical jokes and goofy one-liners, all Brouwer's book needs is an audio track to add the drum roll at the end of each joke to complete the slapstick style—ba-da-crash. (To hear the audio clip, click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yl3UMO-TkE )

      Like the rest of the series, Brouwer uses short sparse sentences to keep the story moving. Characterization, setting and description, in general, are kept to a minimum. Brouwer, instead, focuses on the interactions of the main players. The book's illustrator, Graham Ross, follows Brouwer's lead in providing the visual assistance to the early reader through simple sketches. Timberwolf Tracks is the first novel in the series illustrated by Graham Ross. Ross' style, though different than the earlier parts of the series, was credible and appropriate to the story.

      Simply put, Timberwolf Tracks is silly. Practical jokes, ketchup and some mysterious hi-jinks—what more could a fun-loving boy want? Well, if you are like Stu, perhaps French fries up your nose. (ba-da-crash Wait for it, there is a delay.)


Jonine Bergen is a teacher and library technician in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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