________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 6 . . . . November 14, 1997

cover A Fly Named Alfred.

Don Trembath.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 1997.
144pp., paper, $7.95
ISBN 1-55143-074-6.

Grades 5 - 8 / Ages 10 - 13.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4


They all say hi to each other and giggle and talk about how boring Social Studies is. Of course, they don't even look at me. Then they open the paper to page five and start reading the column called "Fly On The Wall." It's a regular feature in the paper written by this guy who observes people all the time and then writes about them. It's like that saying you hear people use all the time, "I'd like to be a fly on the wall in that meeting, or class, or whatever."

Well, the guy who writes the column is a fly on the wall.

High schooler Harper Winslow tries to lead a low-key existence, but it's his attempts to be anonymous that create chaos for him. The unnamed author of a school newspaper column that comments satirically on individuals in the school, Harper annoys Tommy Rowe, the school bully. To Harper's shock and surprise, Tommy demands that Harper uncover Alfred's identify "or else." Harper's efforts to keep Tommy from discovering his identity are humorous and just absurd enough to be believable.

      Don Trembath has written an engaging novel for young adolescents, a sequel to The Tuesday Cafe, in which Harper found himself in trouble with the law. As part of the sentence agreement, Harper had to attend a writing workshop, aka the Tuesday Cafe, where he discovered his talent for writing which finds expression in A Fly Named Alfred. But Harper is a loner, afraid to make friends except for Billy, his sometimes-not-together adult pal from the writing workshop. Harper's family includes parents who don't know how to communicate with their son.

      Kids will identify with Harper's loneliness, imagination and desire to belong. The characters ring true, including the bully who is actually crying for friendship and attention. The events are both believable and silly, and the fast pace keeps the reader interested. The ending is satisfying for the reader and the characters, and especially for Harper. He ultimately finds the strength to admit who Alfred is and to participate openly in school life.

      A Fly Named Alfred will leave young readers looking for more novels by Don Trembath.

Highly recommended.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.

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

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.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364