Michele Martin Bossley.
Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
I glanced quickly up and down the street. No one was in sight. I slowly edged up the front steps of our house and tried the doorknob. It was unlocked. I stifled a groan. That meant my mom was home.
Today was report card day, and I wasn't anxious to face my mother over my marks again. It was like facing off against Wayne Gretzky with a broom handle instead of a hockey stick. There was just no way for me to win.
If I was very, very lucky, I might be able to sneak inside without her hearing me. Then I could quietly bury my report card in the kitchen garbage can. I figured that once it was drowned in mouldy spaghetti sauce, old potato peelings, and other gross leftovers, the chances of my mother wanting to read it were slim.
I said a quick prayer and slowly turned the knob. The door opened with barely a creak. I breathed as softly as I could, slipped off my sneakers, and suddenly came face to face with my mother.
"All right! Hand it over."
"Yikes!" I yelped, my nerves shattered. Mom seemed to have popped out of nowhere. One minute the front hall was empty, the next there she was bellowing in my ear.
"Hand what over?" I said, with a weak attempt at innocence.
Mom crossed her arms over her flannel workshirt. "You know what. The last time report cards were given out, you practically climbed in the basement window to avoid me."
I grimaced and reached into the back pocket of my jeans, where I'd crumpled, scrunched, and wedged my report card into a compact little ball.
"Hey, Mom! Guess what?" Just then my sister Melissa raced through the back door and bounced into the hall. She flashed her own report card and a brilliant, straight-toothed, white smile at my mother.
I sighed. While normally I'd be thankful for the interruption, play-by-play coverage of Melissa's academic greatness didn't strike me as a good idea. For one thing, it would make my report card look even worse: for another, it was really irritating.
This novel by Michele Martin Bossley includes many positive attributes for children in this age group. A novel about growing up, it discusses the difficulty in family living when one child feels inferior to a sibling, and also the difficulty when one parent loses a job. The lack of family communication provides tense moments for Josie when she feels that she has to give up the one thing that she is good at - competitive swimming.
The solution to Josie's problem is believable - as is the process the family works through to achieve it. The approach that Josie takes to be better than her sister, Melissa is also plausible. The humour of a science fair project "gone wrong" adds to the situation. The characters, although not fully developed, are multi-dimensional and possess qualities with which readers will identify and recognize. As an adult reader, I wanted to know more about the background of Josie and Melissa and more about their rivalry.
Set in western Canada, this novel is another title in the Lorimer Sports Stories series. This is Bossley's third novel in the series and has an appealing sports aspect. Her interest and knowledge about competitive swimming are obvious throughout the novel. Water Fight! would be a suitable addition to public and school libraries as well as individual collections. Useful in a classroom setting, the relevant topics introduced in this title would open many possibilities for class discussion and student writing.
Deborah Mervold is a teacher-librarian in a grade 6 to 12 school and a grade 12 English teacher at Shellbrook Composite High School.
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Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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