CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 17 . . . . April 25, 2003
Anneke is the protagonist of the “Summer Series,” realistic adventure stories by award-winning B.C. author Ann Alma. In the first book, Summer of Changes, Anneke goes out on her own, with her border collie, Sheera, and moves into a cave near her home in the Kootenay mountains. Her survival skills are good as she's been taught by former foster parent, Larry, about what to do in the wild. When she realizes that her mother is in the hospital after being hit by a car and that there is a huge organized search under way for her, Anneke is determined to keep on living alone until her mother can re-join her in their home.
However, after surviving a thunderstorm and a cougar attack, she is ready to be found. The rest of the book figures around her difficult adjustment to life in a family, that of her foster parents, Larry and Eileen and baby Elishia. Anneke is used to looking after herself and her mother and is not ready to give up some of her freedom. Her foster parents respect this as much as possible, setting up an outdoor workshop for her to live in, as well as practise her talent for carving.
In the second book, Summer of Adventures, Anneke is still living with Larry and Eileen who would like to adopt her officially. It is hard for Anneke to accept that her mother may never live with her again now that she is out of the hospital and in a group home.
While Anneke struggles with this decision, she has many other decisions to contend with -- a search for a Japanese treasure leads to a reckless decision and a longer adventure as Anneke and her friend, Ken, have to survive until help can arrive when they get completely lost.
the heavy emotional content of these books, the books are very much
adventure driven. The resourcefulness of the protagonist is reminiscent
of novels like My Side of the Mountain. The books are fast-paced
and extremely well written. The author's ability to draw likable characters
is equally strong. The dialogue and emotionally charged central issue
are handled well without ever sounding overly sentimental. The scenes
with Anneke's adoptive family are real and touching as are those with
her mother. I also liked the way the author incorporated painful Canadian
history into the second novel via the discussion of the internment
of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.
Liz Greenaway has worked in bookselling and publishing and now lives in Edmonton, AB.
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