CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 9 . . . . January 4, 2002
Sayonara, Sharks, part of the "Sports Stories" series, is an entertaining story of an exchange visit to Japan by a group of Canadian senior elementary students. The majority of the students involved in the exchange are softball players on their school or community teams, and thus a ball game (played both Japanese and Canadian style) provides the excitement in the story. It is not, however, the only plot layer at work. Matt and his best friend, Ben, are at odds with each other for Ben has started to date their other friend, Kate, leaving Matt out. Matt is also not sure about this trip to Japan -- will it be the trip of a lifetime as everyone else believes? The differences in the relationship between these two boys is paralleled by the differences between Japanese and Canadian culture. The reader is exposed to numerous differences between the two cultures, differences which range from the type of homes, to the way the Japanese eat, to how their schools are run, and to the nature of the Japanese toilets. Just as the boys resolve their differences and remain good friends, the Canadians learn to enjoy and appreciate the Japanese lifestyle and culture.
Peers has created believable characters in this story. The description of the ball game is excellent and will keep sports enthusiasts on the edge of their seats. The lengthy details of Japanese culture at times slow the action of the story, however. The significant attention paid to the differences between Western and Japanese toilets may irk the adult reader, but younger male readers will probably find such details fascinating.
Sayonara, Sharks is a good choice for the sports enthusiast and should appeal, in particular, to male readers.
Gillian Martin Noonan is a teacher living in Old Perlican, NF.
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