________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 3 . . . . September 21, 2012


Mosquitoes of Summer.

Julianna Kozma.
Toronto, ON: McArthur & Company, 2010.
136 pp., trade pbk., $11.99.
ISBN 978-1-55278-863-9.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Myra Junyk.

** /4



Make sure to pack everything you want to bring with you to PEI," shouted Mom to her daughters, Hannah and Emily Morgan, who were already sacked out in the car. "Check your beds for your MP3 players and DVD movies. You'll need those for the long ride!"

"You mean the long and borrrring drive," said 13-year-old Hannah, rolling her dark brown eyes with typical teenage angst. She was forever trying to perfect her eye rolling technique. Unfortunately, it rarely had any effect on her parents. More practice was definitely in order.

She ran back to her room for a final look and found many forgotten things in her bed no big surprise. She knew her bed resembled more a landfill than a soft place to lie down on, but it was her sanctuary. She most certainly needed the 23 books, apples, dolls, stuffed animals, pens, papers, flashlight, radio, half-eaten granola bar... No question! Those were all essential for survival in bed. Well...except for the bugs. Those had to go...eventually.

Hannah, 13, and Emily, 10, are looking forward to their summer adventures in Prince Edward Island. Travelling with their parents and their pet parrot, Mr. Bean, is frustrating, but it will all be worth it to see their favourite vacation spot! "They always camped at Twin Shores in Darnley, about 20 kilometers west of the ever popular Cavendish, home of Anne of Green Gables."

      When they arrive in Prince Edward Island, everything has changed! Their father has purchased a vacation property that they nickname The Blue Lobster Cottage. Lucy, their friend from Vermont, is thrilled to see them there because she needs their help to explore a mysterious shipwreck washed up on the shore during a storm. In all probability, this is a shipwreck from the famous Yankee Gale of 1801. What secrets does the shipwreck hold? Is a modern-day pirate, the mysterious Bill Malone, trying to run off with the treasure? As the girls track the clues to the mystery, they engage in the everyday activities of a PEI summer vacation trips to the beach, lobster suppers, and tourist traps. In the end, the girls discover an unexpected solution to the mystery of the shipwreck.

      Mosquitoes of Summer, Julianna Kozma's first novel, won the 2009 Book Idol Canada contest. Although this event was heralded with a lot of publicity at the time, the website only indicates the 2009 winner.

      The novel is plagued with wordy passages, an unwieldy narrative and stock characters. The first few lines of the book are overly wordy and descriptive, "The heavy rain seemed endless and unforgiving. It pocked the roughened red sand with millions of tiny holes." Kozma admits that she has modelled her heroines on her own children and their summer adventures. "Many thanks go out to everyone. First and foremost to my daughters Kira and Emmalyn, who were the inspirations for Mosquitoes of Summer. Their zany antics, as well as those of my husband Daniel, and parrot Mr. Bean, had to be immortalized in print." Unfortunately for readers, the story of pirate treasure and the eventual solution play a distant second to the thinly disguised reminiscences of Kozma's family vacations. On the positive side, readers will learn a lot about Prince Edward Island, abandoned graveyards, ancient journals, pirate treasure and shipwrecks. Above all, readers will learn about how to be a "mosquito of summer" "Remember, we're mosquitoes of summer, and it's our job to be the biggest pests we can be."


Myra Junyk, a literacy advocate and author, lives in Toronto, ON.

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

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