________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 2. . . .September 13, 2013


Ace’s Basement. (Orca Currents).

Ted Staunton.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2013.
107 pp., pbk., hc., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0437-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0438-8 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0439-5 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0440-1 (epub).

Grades 6-8 / Ages 11-13.

Review by Alicia Copp Mokkonen.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



“You know what you could do,” she says, “is have you and Lisa both singing, with your heads in profile next to one another, like, you know- oh, whose video was it?”

“ABBA,” I say. It’s one of my favourite bad videos to laugh at.

“Right.” Mom is all excited. “And you could-”

Oh please. I nod and pretend I’m listening. Really, I’m talking to myself again. Text Lisa. I chew slower and answer: Grade-ten girls don’t hang out with grade-nine guys, even if they do play music together. I know this is a law of the universe-or of high school, at least. High school and the universe are the same if you are fourteen.


Ace is an awkward 14-year-old with a crush on his band mate Lisa. Together they write songs and busk, forming a band called Two. The cast of characters in this “Orca Currents” novel include Ace’s easygoing mom and her ex-musician boyfriend Chuck who lends Ace an old guitar and harmonica. Denny is the clueless friend who makes a music video and unwittingly lets two girls with their own devious agenda post an alternate video on YouTube with embarrassing consequences for Ace and especially Lisa.

     The daily concerns of teenage life are well depicted in this novel. This is done through small details in the storyline that draw on minor and realistic scenarios, such as spilling chocolate milk on your backpack and worrying the girl you like might notice the stink. Ace’s inner dialogue is superbly written, easy to relate to and likable as an accident-prone, self-doubting, sincere teen. Although brief, the novel manages to draw on issues of rivalry, popularity, the role of technology in bullying, teen romance, all the while maintaining a lighthearted and humorous tone.

      In a pivotal scene, Lisa’s “chicken cutlets” are jostled out of her bra in a highly embarrassing incident that is captured on video. It is not entirely clear what “something white” sticking out of her top actually is (page 46), and the reader may assume it is just her bra strap. While the reader can ascertain something highly embarrassing involving Lisa’s bra or cleavage has occurred from the subsequent storyline, some sort of brief explanation of the “chicken cutlets” Denny exclaims about would be enlighten the reader. This is a small detail in a refreshingly upbeat teen novel. Staunton successfully portrays the struggles and humiliations of high school and the pressures of fitting in, succeeding, and seeking romance.

Highly Recommended.

Alicia Copp Mokkonen, an educator, librarian and researcher, lives in Vancouver, BC.

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.