________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 16 . . . . April 9, 1999

cover Jan's Big Bang.

Monica Hughes. Illustrated by Carlos Friere.
Halifax, NS: Formac Publishing Co, 1997.
61 pp., cloth & paper, $14.95 (cl), $5.95 (pbk).
ISBN 0-88780-385-7 (cl), 0-88780-384-9 (pbk).

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.
Review by Brian Rountree.

*** /4


As we grope for the matches, I smell the most horrible smell. Like... like very rotten vegetables. Sarah finds the little folder and strikes a match and lights the candle. "Pee-ew!" There is no crumbly brown compost. There are no lively worms. My sweater box is filled with a wet icky mess.
Monica Hughes has produced a book which joins the many that describe student efforts at producing a science fair project. And she seems to have had fun in the creation of this true-to-life adventure of two girls in grade three. Jan and her mom are staying with Gran. It was not great, at first, but now she has Sarah as her best friend. As they plan a project for the Science Fair, they are prevented by their teacher, Mrs. Nelson, from making the traditional baking soda-and-vinegar volcano: it had exploded on the principal last year.

      The duo search for new ideas and check out several books. There is the usual complication of not telling parents about trying a couple of experiments involving ants and worms, with hilarious results. In the end, they are successful enough to want to start planning for next year.

      Hughes, the author of 28 books, is well known to older readers for such novels as the "Isis" trilogy and Crisis on Conshelf Ten. Here, she has a successful venture into writing for a younger audience. Readers can hope that more will follow.

      Carlos Friere has illustrated numerous books, and, in Jan's Big Bang, readers get a black-and-white glimpse of his talent. Jan is portrayed as zanily as Hughes describes her, and the other illustrations capture the essence and fun of the novel.

      This is sure to become a favourite, and not just in grade three!


Reviewed by Brian Rountree, a retired Manitoba teacher-librarian.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364