________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 3 . . . . October 6, 2000

cover The Great Laundry Adventure.

Margie Rutledge.
Toronto, ON: Napoleon Publishing, 1999.
175 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 0-929141-67-9.

Grades 1 - 4 / Ages 6 - 9.

Review by Joan Marshall.

* /4

image The Great Laundry Adventure leads three Toronto siblings (ages 4, 7 and10) on time travel adventures to the past. There, on separate adventures, they meet their great grandmother, their father, their grandparents and children from another family. Their biggest problem is that their father seems to waste away into stardust as soon as they bring him back as a baby to their home. The children chant "apper dapper apper do" as they jump in laundry baskets in order to travel in time. The article of clothing that they are touching leads them to its past time.
    This beginning novel, with its sweetly illustrated (in black and white) adorable children, will serve as a read aloud to the very young. The language (descendants, indignantly, foraged, reverie, diligently) will place it beyond the reading level of most primary aged children. The gentle, innocent "adventures" (in which the children are never in any real danger) and the simple dialogue will keep older children from persevering through an entire reading of the text. It is also unlikely that younger children would be able to grasp the time travel idea in which one could meet one's own great grandmother. So the question is: "Who will read this book with enthusiasm?" Because the adventures are loosely connected (only by the method of time travel), the book has a very disjointed feel to it. First we are on the Texas prairie, then in 1951 Nova Scotia, then at the wedding of the grandparents and finally in wealthy Toronto circa 1929 or so. A monkey in a mysterious eastern shop where the laundry baskets are bought links the children to the people in the past, too.
    The parents of these children are too distracted to be believable. The idea that they cannot organize their laundry due to a lack of closets seems entirely too silly. The theme of children having freedom to play unsupervised will ring true only to older children, and the parents in the book certainly don't seem to care what their children are doing anyway. Wouldn't today's frantic parents be more closely supervising and doing a lot more organizing of children if this is to be a theme?

Not Recommended.

Joan Marshall is the teacher-librarian at Henry G. Izatt Middle School in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364