________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 21 . . . . June 21, 2002

cover The Silver Boulder. (Adventure Net, #2).

Andrea Spalding and David Spalding.
Vancouver, BC: Whitecap Books, 2000.
143 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55285-105-2.

Subject Heading:
Kaslo (B.C.)-History-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4 6 / Ages 9 11.

Review by Carole Marion.

*** /4


An hour later, the dreaded confrontation finally took place.

"What's the matter? You experts haven't found the boulder yet?" Dusty jeered from the top of a small rocky cliff. He laughed down at Melissa, Rick and Willow. "You've got no idea what you're looking for. Never mind, I'll show you when I've staked it.

Dusty disappeared to continue his search farther along Mosquito Creek. The friends could hear him rustling through the forest, and the occasional chink of his pick on rock.

"He's right." Melissa wiped the sweat from her brow and collapsed on a rock at the base of the cliff. The others followed her example. "I thought a big boulder would be easy to see. But it's not. It's impossible."

Rick nodded glumly. "We've beaten our way up and down this dratted gully three times. The map doesn't work and the haiku obviously isn't a clue, there's no cedar wrapping anywhere..."

Boulder Bob staggered into view. He dropped his pick and kit and lowered himself creakily onto a rock where he could lean against the cliff.

"Boulder, are you sure this is the right place?" Melissa's voice shook.

"Mosquito Creek. That's what Tommy said," Boulder muttered. "But it were long ago." He sagged on his seat. "'Taint no good. I'm finished, I'm beat." Boulder closed his eyes, suddenly looking as old and wrinkled as an Egyptian mummy.

"Better face it. Grandfather must have got it wrong. There is no boulder." Melissa's whole body drooped with disappointment.

"He got the mosquitoes right," Rick said, scratching.

The past comes to life in this modern-day mystery set against the historical backdrop of a tiny mining village in British Columbia.

     Rick and Willow Forster are spending the summer in Kaslo with their parents who are teaching a summer class in film-making. This is not the first time that the brother and sister sleuths are left to their own resourcefulness. Similar circumstances led them to track down a missing masterpiece in The Lost Sketch(1999); readers who enjoy their adventures can also observe them digging up fossils at Dinosaur Provincial Park in The Disappearing Dinosaur (2002).

     This time, the siblings hook up with rock collector Dusty Malone who lives in the nearby ghost town of Sandon. Dusty delivers ore to the S.S. Moyie, a steamship permanently docked in Kootenay Lake that has been converted into Kaslo's leading tourist attraction. But Willow and Rick soon grow suspicious of Dusty who seems obsessed with finding a silver boulder the size of a mini-van that disappeared years ago. Dusty believes he inherited the boulder from Meddlesome Malone, but most people believe the boulder is part of a legend, that is, until Melissa Tomi comes to Kaslo in search of the same boulder that her own granddad claims he owned. The problem: both grandfathers are deceased; all the mining records have been lost; and the only possible evidence is half of an old map tucked inside a journal written in Japanese by Melissa's grandfather. The journal only sheds more mystery on the Silver Boulder legend. Who was Boulder Bob? Did Meddlesome Malone really kill him to protect his claim? Who owns the other half of the map? And how can a boulder the size of a mini-van just disappear?

     "Adventure.Net" is a well-crafted mystery series with a twist. The stories are complemented by numerous sidebars imbedded with interesting history lessons that give the reader additional insight into the plot without intruding into the momentum of the storyline. The Silver Boulder is set in a real village rich in mining history and lore. Through these sidebars, the reader learns about Kaslo's mining tradition, the Kootenay Lake flood, the sternwheeler Moyie's sixty years of service, the Japanese internment, Haiku poetry, rock collecting, the Silver Boulder legend and much more. Each historical tidbit ends with a website or two where additional information is available. Teachers will welcome this added feature and the variety of topics ready-made for discussion. Readers may even get an appreciation for the research potential that the Internet can offer and the accurate historical background around which the fictitious storyline is built.


Carole Marion is a Branch Librarian at Calgary Public Library's newest branch, Shawnessy Library. She has been working with youth and their caregivers for over sixteen years.

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

Copyright 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