________________ CM . . . . Volume III Number 8 . . . . December 13, 1996

cover Buddy Concrackle's Amazing Adventure.

Chris McMahen.
Regina: Coteau Books, 1996. 163 pp., paperback, $6.95.
ISBN 1-55050-101-1.

Subject Heading:
Family-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
Review by Deborah Mervold.

*** /4


Welcome to my photo album! You are in for one of the most exciting experiences in your entire life! Reading this photo album is even more exciting than watching your uncle Rudy's video of his trip to Cleveland, Ohio! More exciting than bungee jumping blindfolded into a giant vat of steaming hot chocolate sauce! Even more exciting than shaving your best friend's head bald and drawing a map of the northern Hemisphere on it with a felt pen that never ever washes off!
      As you look at my photo album, you will gasp at the sight of the lake monster Ogopogo inhaling entire towns through his nostrils. Thrill at the views of death-defying kite flying on Oregon's windy coast! See a picture of the world's biggest yo-yo! Even Elvis Presley may make an appearance!
      In this photo album, you will see it all!
      But there is one small, tiny itsy, bitsy problem. If you look at the photo album, you will notice there's something missing - pictures. You see I had a bit of bad luck and ... well ... there are no pictures.
      But if you read on for a while longer, I can explain EVERYTHING!
      It all started when I opened my birthday present from Mom and Dad. It was the worst tenth birthday present in the history of the world.
Young readers will enjoy the unusual approach Chris McMahen takes in this, his hilarious first novel for young people. Buddy Concrackle is going on holidays with his parents and younger sister and has decided to do a photo journal of his trip as a school project. But everything that can go wrong does and Buddy ends up with an album full of text - and no pictures.

      Buddy supplies the text for each of the photos but fails to give a convincing reason why they are missing - which turns out to be understandable once readers become aware of Buddy's situation and humorous family circumstances. Children will identify with Buddy and his difficulty in taking pictures and the embarrassing situations in which he finds himself.

      There is a great deal of humour in the book. The characterization of the parents is very amusing. Additional characters, such as bagpipe player Ear Drum Macleod, add a chuckle to the plot. Short cut taking, map reading, border crossing, lawn ornaments, and seafood restaurants are all included in Buddy's hilarious adventures. Buddy's understating of events will also be enjoyed by the reader .

      The print is easy to read with appropriate sizing for the intended audience. The cover illustration done by Bill Johnson delightfully captures the sense of Buddy and his family. Dialogue is realistic and situations will appeal to children in the middle years. Even though some of the events are on the ridiculous side, the opportunity to describe the scene makes this novel a good choice for classroom reading. This book is suitable for public and school libraries as well as individual collections.


Deborah Mervold is a teacher librarian in a grade 6 to l2 school, and a Grade 12 English teacher at Shellbrook Composite High School.

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

Copyright © 1996 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