________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 29. . . .March 29, 2013


Mystery at Lake Placid. (Screech Owls series).

Roy MacGregor.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 1995/2013.
256 pp., pbk., $9.99.
ISBN 978-1-77049-413-8.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Aileen Wortley.

**** /4



Travis thought he was going to throw up. He had settled into the locker and they had closed the door and he had tried the knife bolt and tested it, and satisfied, they had said their farewells to him from the other side of the air holes and left.

Derek wanted to get the key back into the hotel room in case his father noticed it was gone. He would sneak the key out again first thing in the morning, and they would, they promised, have him out of there by 7:30 a.m., in time for either the first serving of breakfast or a quick cat nap, whichever Travis felt he needed more.

When they left, Fahd turned out the lights. Total, unbelievable, suffocating, frightening, snake-filled dark!

Travis felt himself begin to panic. His heart was thundering, his chest bouncing like a parade drum.


In this reprint of the very first “Screech Owls” book, the Ontario peewee team heads off to play in a tournament at Lake Placid, New York. They are accompanied by their beloved manager, Mr. Dillinger, and respected coach, Muck Munro, and are thrilled to know they will be competing on a real Olympic-sized rink.

     However, it’s hard to focus on the tournament when so many things are going wrong. Travis, through whose eyes the story is told, gets knocked down in the street and somebody is deliberately sabotaging the Screech Owls’ games. Sarah, the team captain, has her uniform tampered with, her hockey stick stolen and her blades misaligned. Suspicion falls upon an unpleasant parent who has had a run-in with Sarah and players on the Panther team who see the Screech Owls as a threat. Travis and his buddies rise to the challenge in order to bring the culprit to justice. They are devastated to find that the transgressor is the last person they could ever dream would be guilty of such heinous acts.

     With a new look and at well over two hundred pages, this reprint of the first volume in the “Screech Owl” series reminds readers where it all began 18 years ago. Having a target audience of nine to eleven-year-olds, it is easy to see the series’ appeal. Mystery at Lake Placid has all the necessary components to intrigue, including a page-turning plot and realistic, likable characters with a villain or two thrown in for good measure. It is a well-written book with a great sense of earthy humour as befits the age group and detailed rivetting blow-by-blow accounts of every tense match. The author captures not only the skills and strategies of the game but the camaraderie and rivalry within and between teams.

     In his scouting report, Travis introduces readers to his teammates with a synopsis of their strengths as players and their quirky personality traits. Overall, the characters in this first book are very well delineated. The kids on the team are resourceful, good-natured and, as per Coach Muck’s instructions, always put the good of the team above that of the individual.

     Roy MacGregor brings a sense of authenticity to the series with his background as a hockey player, coach, sports reporter and author of several adult books about hockey. Readers have and will continue to enjoy this realistic adventure with a setting of tension and excitement. It is no wonder the “Screech Owls” have been so popular for so long!!

Highly Recommended.

Aileen Wortley, a now retired librarian, was employed by the Mississauga Library in ON.

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

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