________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 16 . . . . April 14, 2000

cover Alecia's Challenge. (Sports Stories, 32).

Sandra Diersch.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 1999.
101 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55028-650-1.

Grades 3-8 / Ages 8-13.
Review by Audrey Cormier.

**** /4


Keep it together. Only five minutes to half-time and we can rest. Until then, keep fighting! We can't let these clydesdales beat us!

Clydesdales! Alecia had called this team clydesdales the night Laurie and Connor met at the movies. She sighed heavily as she took up her position on the field. She had seen Laurie look for Connor on the sidelines after her goal, had seen the grin he gave her. It made Alecia feel funny inside, funny and lonely, as though she had lost someone. She shook her head and turned away from the sidelines and back to the game. She had to concentrate hard. There wasn't time to think about Laurie and Connor.

The realistic plot unfolds through the eyes of Alecia, a 13-year-old entering Grade 8. She is very fortunate to have a good friend, Connor, and another friend, Annie, who tests their friendship by daring to pursue different interests. Alecia's mom and new stepdad are very understanding and are the most patient, supportive parents. She receives good advice and loving support in her internal and external struggles. The test for her new attitude occurs during the weekend soccer tournament. Her oldest friend, Connor, seems more interested in her teammate, Laurie. Alecia feels lost and bereft. New faces and commitment carry Alecia through to a new reality. It's OK to move on and be different - and to keep the best of the past, too. It's called growing up.

Alecia tackles the job of growing up and all it implies to an early teen. The transition from being a child and enjoying familiar things with childhood friends, to becoming a young teenager in high school with new friends and new challenges calls for some deep soul searching. Everyone around Alecia seems to feel that she is the cause of all her own troubles and she just can't see it.

It takes courage for Alecia to see that she may indeed have room for improvement. Sticking with her soccer team and trying out a new focused attitude in an important tournament proves that everyone can change and move in new directions and while still remaining friends with those around them.

Highly Recommended.

Audrey Cormier, a retired teacher, is a volunteer at Red Rock Public Library in Red Rock, ON.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364