CM . . .
. Volume XVIII Number 5. . . .September 30, 2011
Timberwolf Challenge. (Orca Echoes).
Sigmund Brouwer. Illustrated by Dean Griffiths.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2008.
57 pp., pbk., $6.95.
Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.
Sex role-Juvenile fiction.
Review by Jonine Bergen.
From under the bed, Johnny watched their legs. He knew they were close. He also knew something else.
He had put a scary mask under the sheets. With the face up.
"I'll lift the sheets," Stu whispered to Tom. "You pour the water."
"On the count of three," Tom said. "One. Two. Three. Now!"
They flipped the sheets back.
"Aaaagh!" Tom screamed. It was a scary mask."
"Aaaagh!" Stu screamed. It was a very scary mask.
From under the bed, Johnny reached out and grabbed one of Tom's ankles. And one of Stu's ankles. He pulled hard. Like he was a monster, trying to drag them both under the bed.
Timberwolf Challenge follows the further adventures of teammates Tom, Johnny, and Stu as they try to raise money for their hockey team, the Howling Timberwolves. Sigmund Brouwer found the right combination in this book by combining the physical humour of the previous books with a concise fully developed plot and simple language. Relying on the reader's knowledge of the heroes, Brouwer pared down the description and backstory and told the story with a light touch. As with Brouwer's other books, Johnny learns a life lesson while taking the reader for a quick fun read.
Johnny has decided to play tricks on the good citizens of Howling, and, just as diabolically, he plans to videotape them. It is all for a good cause, he explains. He is going to show the videos to the people in Howling if they donate money to the hockey team.
While setting up his videos, Johnny learns that Tom's cousin, Tammy, is coming to town. When Tom complains that Tammy beats him in everything and suggests they play a joke on her, Johnny rises to the bait and declares that he could never be beaten by a girl. With that, the stage is set, the challenge accepted, and the tables are turned on the trickster.
As always, Brouwer's prose caters to young boys' sense of humour with the requisite poop jokes and underwear hijinks. Timberwolf Challenge is a not-to-be-missed title for those who have chuckled with other books in the "Timberwolves" series. One caveat, however; the humour and storyline do require some familiarity with the relationships developed in earlier books of the series.
As with other "Orca Echoes" titles, Timberwolf Challenge is particularly effective for the struggling reader.
Jonine Bergen is a librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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