CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 15 . . . . March 28, 2003
"A Dani and Caitlin Mystery,” as the fathers of two 12-year-old
best friends take them on a camping trip in Ontario's Algonquin Park.
The first chapter is dedicated to one of the girls’ fathers
sharing the history of the area by telling the story of Tom Thomson,
one of Canada's foremost landscape painters, and the detail that interests
the girls the most is that many believe Tom Thomson was murdered.
Being amateur sleuths, it seems Dani and Caitlin are always up for
a good mystery, especially when it involves murder. After spending
a sleepless night at a campsite on Canoe Lake, the girls are taken
back by the appearance of what seems to be Tom Thomson's ghost and
his request of them - to reveal his killer.
Written as almost a spoof, McCloskey gets away with painting a picture of a couple of really clueless fathers, a stumbling, overweight park ranger, a pompous old professor, and an eccentric homeless man, plus numerous other pop-up characters. What he doesn't get away with is the fact that two fathers let their twelve-year-old "being introduced to Mother Nature" daughters go off and camp by themselves in a dangerous forest, breaking some of the believability needed to hold the reader within the plot. The voices of the girls would also be easier to believe if they were in grade five or grade six. The "illegal dog in the park" as a run-on gag seems geared toward a much younger audience.
This aside, the Canadian content is commendable, but if McCloskey is intent on writing in the humour genre, he might want to push further and play with his characters and their development more. This novel seems best suited for a younger audience.
Jocelyn A. Dimm is a sessional instructor and doctoral student at the University of Victoria where she teaches drama education and young adult literature in the Faculty of Education.
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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.