________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 15 . . . . March 28, 2003


Bull Rider. (Orca Soundings).

Marilyn Halvorson.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2003.
92 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-55143-233-1.

Subject Heading:
Rodeos-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4


Who Owns Kelly Paddik? (Orca Soundings).

Beth Goobie.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2003.
92 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-55143-239-0.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4


Bull Rider and Who Owns Kelly Paddick? were both originally published by Maxwell Macmillan as part of its hi-lo series, “Series 2000,” with Halvorson’s Bull Rider appearing in 1989 and Goobie’s Who Owns Kelly Paddick? in 1993. Initially, the most obvious difference between the two versions, other than the new cover art, is in the books’ interior physical appearance for the “Orca Soundings” books do not contain the full page black and white illustrations which had been a characteristic of “Series 2000.” However, a comparative reading of the two versions of each book reveals that both books have undergone significant revisions though their original storylines remain essentially intact.

     Bull Rider is the story of Albertan Layne McQueen, 16, whose father had been killed six years earlier during the Brahma bull riding portion of the national rodeo finals. Layne has decided to take up his father’s dream of winning the national championship, but his mother has forbidden him from entering rodeos and has already twice stopped his attempts to do so. Nonetheless, Layne is determined to try a third time, and, unknown to his mother, he has been practicing his bull-riding skills with the assistance of his childhood friend and emerging romantic interest, Jana Kelvin, whose parents raise rodeo stock and have an indoor arena. Whenever Jana’s parents are away, Layne sneaks over to ride the younger bulls that are not yet ready for competition. Initially unknown to both Layne and Jana, Jana’s grandfather, Chase Kinkaid, is in the stands during one of these times, and Layne fears that Chase will inform his mother about what he has been doing. Instead, Chase, himself a former bull rider, offers to coach the self-taught Layne in the finer aspects of the sport. Adding to the book’s suspense is Layne’s “relationship” with Rhino, a one-horned Brahma bull which tried to kill him during one of his practice sessions at the Kelvin ranch. When Layne finally gets to ride in his first rodeo, still without his mother’s knowledge, he discovers that he has drawn Rhino. Halvorson’s ending to the story is both believable and satisfying.

     While the original Bull Rider was a most acceptable read, the revised version is much richer in a number of ways including, as shown in the comparative extracts below, the addition of details which further character relationships.

I stood up fast - and almost knocked the table over. “That won’t happen?“

“You bet it won’t happen,” Mom cut in before I could finish. “The answer is no!” She grabbed her jacket and headed for the door. (Series 2000, p. 11)

I stood up fast - and almost knocked the table over. “Oh, come on Mom, it won’t happen?“

“You bet it won’t happen,” Mom cut in before I could finish. “The answer is no,” she said, grabbing her jacket and heading for the door. That was the way she always tried to end things. Get in the last word and then get out of there. But I wasn’t going to let her do it this time. (Orca Soundings, p. 3)

     Additionally, Layne’s relationship with his 12-year-old sister, Tara aka Terror, has also been modified in a positive direction. Originally, she was just the pesky little sister who, because of her knowledge of Layne’s bull-riding activities, was able to blackmail him into including her in a number of happenings. In the “Series 2000" copy, Layne simply thanked Tara for distracting Rhino, the Brahma bull, after he had been thrown from the animal’s back.. However in the revised “Orca Soundings” offering, Layne adds, “Dad would have been proud of you.” This sentence then leads to seven additional paragraphs, which, among other things, reveal Tara’s real fear that Layne might also die in the same fashion that their father had. The concluding chapter, which focuses on Layne’s rodeo participation, has been enlarged, and the increased detail draws out the tension and drama surrounding the bull-riding event. Inflation has also overtaken Bull Rider so that the 2003 mother gives Layne and Tara $50.00 to visit the rodeo while the 1989 mother provided just $20.00.

     Goobie’s Who Owns Kelly Paddick? essentially occurs within the confines of Winnipeg’s Marymound School for Girls where 15-year-old Kelly Paddick has been sent following a suicide attempt at her group home. Readers come to learn that, commencing when Kelly was aged five, she had been sexually abused by her father. At age 10, Kelly had begun running away from home to live on the streets because her mother had refused to believe what Kelly had told her about the abuse. While in Marymound, Kelly’s initial goal is to steal one of the master keys so that she could escape. Complicating Kelly’s life there is her having crossed Terri, the center’s toughest girl, by nicknaming her Pit Bull, the sobriquet becoming known to Terri. Although Kelly’s dad had been killed in a car accident a couple of years before, Kelly’s memories of him still control her life, and. in a sense, he “owns” her. When Chris, another “inmate,” shares her own painful history of abuse, Kelly is able to begin the process of re-assuming ownership of her life.

     Like Bull Rider, Who Owns Kelly Paddick? evidences numerous small changes which further develop character relationships and more smoothly move the plot along. As well, in Who Owns Kelly Paddick? the additions also clarify the physical setting and further reveal the impact of the sexual abuse on Kelly. The latter can be seen in the following comparative example which involves Kelly’s visit to one of Marymound’s social workers.

“C’mon in.”

I followed Fran in. There was a man sitting at a desk. (Series 2000, p. 37)

“C’mon in,” said a man’s voice. I went stiff. I always need extra time to get ready if I’m walking into a room with a man in it. I followed Fran through the door. (Orca Soundings, p. 33)

     While the 1993 volume had 11 chapters, the 2003 rendering has 12 with the additional chapter being the result of the “old” chapter five being split into two.

     Both titles are most worthy additions to hi-lo collections.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in YA literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

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

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