________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 10. . . .November 8, 2013


Seconds. (Orca Young Readers).

Sylvia Taekema.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2013.
107 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $7.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0403-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0404-3 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0405-0 (epub).

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Laura Dick.

**˝ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Jake thought a lot about what Dave had said. Run to run. Winning will take care of itself. He had won the last race, hadn’t he? Why not enjoy it? He couldn’t shake what Simon had said either. Love what you love. He did love running. Or he used to. There had to be a way he could get that back.


Jake is a good runner, a very good runner. He wants to win every time he races, and he usually does, unless Spencer Solomon is also in the race. Spencer is a good runner too, good enough to beat Jake, which Jake does not like. Not at all.

     Jake is dedicated to his sport; he has no hobbies other than running, he eats what he should – mostly peanut butter, bananas and pickle juice, which he has heard is good for running – he gets enough sleep, he reads endless articles about running and he practices more than he should. The more practice he gets, the better his results are, the more often his wins. Jake takes running very seriously. The problem is, the better he gets, the more and more he dislikes his sport. Running gives him less and less pleasure, and Jake doesn’t know what to do.

     Seconds, by Sylvia Taekema, tells the story of an obsessive young boy who loses his focus – instead of focusing on enjoying his sport and having fun with his teammates, Jake begins to obsess about finishing in first place in every race he enters and, most importantly, on not being bested at the finish line by Spencer Solomon. Jake displays poor sportsmanship and rebuffs attempts by an old friend to reconnect with him during the racing season because the friend, a fellow runner, isn’t a serious enough runner…in Jake’s opinion. Jake has no time for his friends or his family or for having fun. Jake needs to learn that winning isn’t everything and that part of the pleasure of participating in a sport is to be a part of a team and celebrate each other’s victories, not just his own.

     An accessible read, Seconds is written in a very straightforward manner. There is nothing fancy in the writing or the word choice; everything is tight and economical, just like a runner should be. A recommended read for young sports fans, especially those who are interested in running.


Laura Dick is trying to raise four teenagers while attempting to maintain her sanity. She escapes to work as a branch manager at a mid-sized public library in Southwestern Ontario.

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