________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 34. . . .May 3, 2013


Overboard. (HIP Xtreme Novels).

Erin L. Thomas. Illustrated by Charlie Hnatiuk.
Toronto, ON: H.I.P. Books, 2012.
94 pp., pbk., $10.95.
ISBN 978-1-926847-25-2.

Grades 6-12 / Ages 11-17.

Review by Sheila Janzen.

*** /4


Overboard Teacher’s Guide.

Lori Jamison.
Toronto, ON: H.I.P. Books, 2012.
19 pp., stapled, $7.95. (Free when six or more copies of Overboard are purchased at the same time.)
ISBN 978-1-926847-26-9.

Grades 6-12 / Ages 11-17.

Review by Sheila Janzen.

*** /4



I studied my dad’s face. The first raindrops spattered down, making it look like my dad was crying.

Dad met my eyes. “Go on,” he said.

I climbed down the ladder. A minute later, Dad was sliding boards into place across the door to the cabin.

“Don’t,” I said, as he started to slide the final board across.

Dad looked down and smiled at me. “It’ll be all right.” And then he pushed the board into place.

It was just the three of us now, me and Amy and Cory, down in that dark, little cabin. Cory sat on one of the benches, hunched up. Amy gripped a small table to keep her balance. I found a handle on the wall to hold onto as our ship lurched over waves.

For Tanner and his sister, Amy, it was supposed to be a trip to the Bahamas with their dad. Joined by the skipper of the run-down chartered boat, the Sparta, and the son of their dad’s girlfriend, Cory, they embark on their journey. Tanner and Amy are not thrilled to have Cory, whom they’ve nicknamed “Slug”, on board. And then the storm hits. When the engine fire forces Tanner and Amy onto a life boat with Cory, who has been acting like a jerk, and separates them from their dad, they have to find a way to get along and stay alive.

     From the moment the story begins, the suspense is high. Conflict emerges immediately between the three kids. Amy is sick, Cory is a jerk, and Tanner wishes he had never come on this trip. The story arc moves the characters from one state to another with ease and clarity to effect change. Tanner goes from a situation of helplessness to one of empowerment. The pattern of bringing all three main characters to a low point, removing the structures they depend on, then forcing them to find a new strength without those structures was well developed. The use of language complemented the immediacy of the story. Each sentence moved the reader further along into the story with the keen use of active verbs and active voice.

      E. L. Thomas writes with such a perceptive approach for reluctant readers without seeming to simplify content or language. The story and word choice pull the reader in. Careful control of reading levels, believable characters and dialogue, picture support, stimulating plot, and use of subtle encouragement, represent and encourage the format and structure suitable for the “HIP Xtreme” novel series. Available with this “HIP Xtreme” novel is the Overboard Teacher’s Guide by Lori Jamison, which complements the book by outlining the learning objectives and goals for the reader, tips on how to encourage reluctant readers, as well as including chapter activities.

Highly Recommended.

Sheila Janzen is a writer in the MFA in Writing program at the University of Saskatchewan and a teacher with the Saskatoon Public School Division.

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

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