________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 26 . . . . March 12, 2010


Addison Addley and the Trick of the Eye. (Orca Young Readers).

Melody DeFields McMillan.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2009.
90 pp., pbk., $7,95.
ISBN 978-1-55469-189-0.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Chris Laurie.

**** /4


Mom put down her spoon and looked me straight in the eye. "I didn't want to alarm you, honey,"; she whispered, "but there's another reason for moving."

She glanced over her shoulder like someone was hiding behind the fridge.

"There's an intruder in our neighbourhood. There have been two break-ins in the last two weeks. I just don't feel safe here anymore."

I felt a shiver go up my spine. I'd heard just about enough. I'm not good at math, but two houses in two weeks adds up to a lot of creepiness. Next week would be the third week. I'd have to make sure there wouldn't be a third break-in.

It was bad enough thinking about moving to a shoe factory, but now I also had to worry about some stranger prowling around our street. I'd have to move fast. It was time to make a plan, time to turn things around. And I knew just who to turn to.


Welcome back, Addison Addley! Melody DeFields McMillan has followed up her first Silver Birch nominated Addley Addison novel with another delightful title in the series.

     Addison's mother has thrown him a curve ball; she's put the house up for sale. It's up to Addison to prove to her that her plan to move them into a ‘shoebox' sized town-home in a nearby suburb is a bad idea. He and best friend Sam apply what they have learned in class about optics, perspective, and illusion to change her mind. If that isn't enough, there is a burglar loose in the neighbourhood; classmate Becky's garage has been broken into twice in as many weeks. Armed with his unique brand of common sense, his knowledge from recent science classes, and some clues found near the break-ins, Addison sets out to keep his life in focus!

     Once again McMillan's teaching background has facilitated her talent of blending a fascinating variety of scientific principles with an exciting plot and engaging characters. In a series of hilarious scenes, Addison, by using some of the optics concepts he has learned in class, attempts to help his mother see their current home from a new perspective. He fills the house with borrowed games and hides all the mirrors to make their current too-large home appear smaller. He makes the grounds appear more appealing by carving topiary animals out of the hedge and by creating an unusual picket fence made of second-hand hockey sticks which he paints in a fresh orange colour.

     Young readers will enjoy Addison's dry asides and perceptive observations. The first-person narrative helps draw the readers into Addison's world, and the pacing and elements of mystery keep the plot moving along at a rapid clip. Similar to the character Greg Heffley from Jeff Kinney's "Wimpy Kid" series, likeable and identifiable hero Addison seems to have it all figured out; he just needs to get everyone else to see things his way.

     While the first title in the series, Addison Addley and the Thing's that Aren't There, introduced concepts of math and public speaking, this second volume touches on concepts of optics and illusion in science and art. Addison applies these concepts as he attempts to solve the very practical mystery of neighbourhood break-ins and the meanings of the notes left behind at the crime scene. For readers, the scientific concepts, which are not presented didactically, act to whet appetites to learn more about optics and illusion and can serve as springboards to classroom or Book Club discussions. Through their website, Orca has made available a Teacher's Guide for the first title in the series. If this title wasn't already a sure-thing for teachers and librarians looking for new Book Club titles, this valuable resource should tip the scales. Let's hope Orca will provide the same resource for this second delightful novel.

     A light and enjoyable mystery, Addison Adley and the Trick of the Eye is another outstanding entry in the "Orca Young Readers" series. It will be enjoyed by young readers as well as utilized by educators. I look forward to further titles in the Addison Addley series.

Highly Recommended.

Chris Laurie is an Outreach Librarian at the Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.