________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 16. . . .December 20, 2013

cover

Driftwood.

Valerie Sherrard.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2013.
189 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55455-305-1.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Tara Stieglitz.

**1/2 /4

   

excerpt:

Theo sat himself back into his chair and held that piece of wood. He got quiet for a minute, in a way that made me and Joey quiet too. Theo stroked the wood gently and his fingers kind of vibrated on it, like it was too cold to touch.

"This is a wonderful, wonderful piece of driftwood," he said after a moment. "Would you boys like to know where it came from?"

"Where it came from?" I echoed. "How can you tell that?"

"I can tell," Theo said simply.

 

This summer, Adam's family is doing something different for their vacation. Instead of visiting relatives for a few weeks, they are renting a cabin for the whole summer, and Adam is allowed to invite a friend to join him. When Adam's best friend, Billy, makes a last minute decision to forgo the trip and stay at home with his ailing dog instead, Adam fears his summer will be full of boredom and loneliness. The summer instantly improves when Adam befriends other campers at their seaside cabin. The book includes a rotating cast of campers, many of whom stay for a few weeks and then leave, but the most interested person Adam meets is Theo. Theo is an old blind man who collects driftwood. When Adam starts to bring interesting pieces of driftwood to Theo, he discovers that the old man can see stories in the wood, stories that Adam listens to with rapt attention.

     The stories told by Theo are interesting and compellingly told folktales, and they are the best part of Driftwood. The rest of the novel is fairly lacklustre. Many of the characters, including Adam, are obnoxious and hard to like, making it difficult for the reader to feel invested in the story or to care about what happens to the characters. The style of the novel is that of a timeless story of a boy's summer holiday adventures. Occasional mentions of modern technology, such as iPods and Facebook, detract from the timelessness of the novel and will eventually make it feel dated.

      Driftwood is a pleasant novel that serves as a frame for some much more interesting stories. Overall, it is reasonably captivating but not the best novel out there about a boy's summer experience.

Recommended.

Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.

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

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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