________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 4. . . .September 23, 2011


Count Me In.

Sara Leach.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2011.
164 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55469-404-4.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



"You look like you've seen a ghost," Tess said.

"A bear," Tabitha squeaked. She leaned her back against the door, willing her heart to slow.

Cedar ran to the window. "No way! Where?"

"In the middle of the path." Tabitha's hands shook so much that she could hardly unzip her jacket.

"Cool," Cedar said.

She gave up on her zipper and collapsed onto the bench. "I guess." If you were into a long painful death by dismemberment. She pressed one hand on top of the other to stop the shaking.

"Where's Max?" Ashley mumbled through lips that only opened a crack.

Tabitha froze. She pressed her hands harder into the table. In her panic to get back to the hut, she'd forgotten about Max. "I was going to tell you." Now it would sound like she hadn't cared. "Max took off."

"You left him there?" Ashley's voice grew higher with every word.

"I called and called. I tried searching, but I didn't want to get lost in the fog. I was on my way back to get you guys to help. That's when I ran into the bear."


Twelve-year-old Tabitha is on a camping trip with her two older cousins and her recently widowed aunt so she can forget about her problems at school. But even when she's in the mountains surrounded by family, she feels unwanted and out of place. Her cousin Ashley tells her, "I wish you'd never come on this trip." Her cousin Cedar pulls her into the cold water when she doesn't want to swim, and when she is asked to help with chores, she fumbles with even the simplest tasks. Tabitha realizes her strengths though when a storm strands them on the mountain. She endures hunger pains when they begin to ration their food, and she uses her math talents to rescue her cousin when she is swept down the river by a strong current. She acts as a caretaker when her aunt and cousin become sick, and as a confidant when her cousin, Cedar, begins to grieve the death of his father. A bear threatens Tabitha's safety, but she escapes unharmed, and, when the family dog goes missing, she takes on the responsibility of finding him, even when that means putting herself in dangerous situations.

     This adventure story takes place over seven days in Squamish, BC. The stormy weather adds drama to the story and turns a plot about awkward relationships into one of survival. During her time away from home, Tabitha sees her cousins and aunt when they are vulnerable. This scares her, but it gives her the opportunity to act with courage and be a part of the rescue. When Tabitha goes back to school, she does so with a new level of confidence that allows her to make friends and to return to the mountains to face the fears she endured during her original camping trip. Readers who have outgrown the "Canadian Flyer Adventures" series by Frieda Wishinsky may enjoy the adventure in this book. Sara Leach, who also authored Jake Reynolds: Chicken or Eagle?, is a teacher-librarian from Whistler, BC.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian with the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364
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