CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 10. . . . January, 2003
"Plenty of water, that's the secret," someone was saying when Rosie, Fran, and Benny returned to the front lawn.
"Forget it, if you don't have twelve hours of sun," someone else said.
"Limit your vine to one pumpkin," another neighbor suggested.
"Peat moss, you gotta have that."
"Bury your vines to promote root growth."
"Grow-All fertilizer, that's the best. Don't even think about it without Grow-All."
"Fascinating discussion, folks, " yawned Police Officer Sam as he rose to his feet. "May the best man - or girls and dog -- win."
"We may not have much by way of unsolved crimes at the moment," Police Officer Sue said in a quiet, confidential manner, turning to Rosie, Fran, and Benny. "But we do have some police work in the area of crime prevention that might interest you."
"Us? Police work!" asked Rosie with wide eyes and a disbelieving smile.
"Police work!" thought Benny, leaping quickly to attention.
"Police work! Yes!" exclaimed Fran, punching her arm in the air.
Autumn, to the townspeople of Smith Falls, meant it was time for the Annual Smith Falls Pumpkin Weigh-Off, a competition that was good-natured but fought with fierce pride. This is the focus of Mary Borsky's novel, Benny Bensky and the Giant Pumpkin Heist. Once again the time for competition is drawing near for the citizens of Smith Falls, and this time our heroes, 10-year-old Rosie Bensky, her best friend, Fran, and Rosie's dog, Benny Bensky, have a pumpkin named Priscilla to enter in the contest. The girls with the help of Mr. Bensky, are trying to encourage Priscilla to grow and are helping out by putting up posters about the Weigh-Off. Rosie is also trying to cope with the idea of wearing glasses, an idea that she does not like but which proves to be vital to solving the mystery that Rosie, Fran and Benny will have to unravel.
Of course, in Benny Bensky's town nothing is simple or ever boring, even putting up posters. The neighbors are unique characters. Mrs. Bittle is a pumpkin fanatic who collects them but does not grow them. Dr. Furstenworth, the optometrist, is a nervous man who has won the competition the last two years. Grumpy Mr. Gormley is grumpy but provides suggestions to his competitors on pumpkin-growing. The Conns and Poopsie, the dog (a pure Half-Knotted Fully-Frizzled Lower-Swamplands Frippett), are very critical of their new place of residence as they attempt to impress everyone around them. But small town friendliness is not as it seems, and on the eve of the competition someone steals all the giant pumpkins, replacing them with supermarket squashes haphazardly attached to the vines with floral tape. It is up to Rosie, Fran and Benny to go undercover and discover who did this dastardly crime.
While the characters and the situations that they find themselves in are only sometimes realistic, the reader is drawn into this tale with enthusiasm and acceptance. The plot moves quickly and keeps one in suspense (almost to the last page) as to whether our heroes will solve the crime and, perhaps more importantly, win the competition. The dialogue is witty, and the antics of Rosie, Fran and Benny, especially when they disguise themselves to go undercover, are fresh and delightful. In this, her companion novel to Benny Bensky and the Perogy Palace, Mary Borsky has written a fun-loving tale that young readers will thoroughly enjoy.
Gillian Martin Noonan is a teacher living in Old Perlican, NL.
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