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Hawk and Stretch.

Bernice Thurman Hunter.
Richmond Hill, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1993. 160pp., paper, $4.95.
ISBN 0-590-74814-9.

Reviewed by Norma Charles.

Volume 22 Number 3.
1994 May/June.

In her tenth book, Hunter focuses on Billy, the youngest member of the Thomson family of "Booky" fame.

Through eleven-year-old Billy's adventures we explore Toronto at the time of World War II, in 1942. The newest arrival at school that first day in September is Danny Thunder, a young Mohawk. He soon demonstrates that he is someone to contend with by taking on the school bully. Danny befriends Billy, whom he names "Stretch" because of his height, and Billy calls Danny "Hawk," short for Mohawk. A binding friendship is soon established. Hawk leads Billy into many adventures including getting into the movie theatre free, and saving Billy's life when he falls through spring ice.

The two households, Danny's and Billy's, are shown to be very different from each other: Danny's boisterous, relaxed family is contrasted throughout the story with Billy's tight, super-organized household. Billy is ambivalent about his new friend. He is entertained by his energy and enthusiasm and he feels more at home with Danny's rowdy family than he does with his own, but he also feels a twinge of jealousy when his mother, his favourite sister, Bea (Booky of earlier stories), and even his eccentric aunt all seem charmed and delighted by Hawk's merry brown eyes.

All the characters, including the adults, are well drawn, believable and consistent throughout the story.

Steeped with memories of an earlier time more than fifty years ago and told in a zippy, entertaining fashion by a wonderful storyteller, a kind of storyteller that can keep her audience enthralled for hours, this book begs to be read aloud to Junior classes. The students will learn about history "in context," that in the olden days there were real people with real feelings who had real adventures that modern children can certainly relate to.

Highly recommended.

Grades 3 to 7 / Ages 8 to 12.

Norma Charles is a teacher-librarian at Henderson Annex School in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364