________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 2 . . . . September 20, 2002

 Jayden's Rescue. Vladimir Tumanov. Illustrated by David Bordeleau. Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2002. 123 pp., pbk., \$5.99. ISBN 0-439-98864-0. Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12. Review by Janet Delgatty. **1/2 /4

exerpt:

"Hi, Al," said Vanessa, walking into his room and looking as perky as ever. "Are you ready?"

"Sure. Let's get going," replied Alex and opened the book. On the page before them Jayden's way was blocked by a monster who had five heads. Each head had a different expression on its face. One was frowning; another seemed surprised; a third one was smiling; the fourth head looked sleepy; and the fifth was very serious as it spoke:

My heads have lots of hair to comb;
It's hard to find the time.
So when I comb a head of hair,
My parents pay a dime.
Each head is combed in sequence,
Always one, two, three, four, five.
My mom says order is a goal
For which good monsters strive.
I'm proud to say that now I've earned
Twelve dollars fair and square.
How often, tell me, have I combed Each shaggy head of hair?

Here's a fantasy quest novel with a difference. Tumanov, a professor of language and literature at the University of Western Ontario, constructs the quest based on math word problems. The evil sorcerer-king Rechner imprisons Jayden, a queen in an alternate land. She can get out, but only if she gets through 400 rooms guarded by monsters. Each room has a math riddle that she is not allowed to solve. Alex and his two friends in our world must solve the riddle. Each time they solve a riddle, the pages will turn in a book entitled "Jayden's Rescue" which Alex found in his room. If the answer is incorrect, the pages won't turn. There's a time limit of five weeks for the rescue, and the kids must finish the puzzles while at summer camp.

Personalities of the three children and Jayden, Rechner, and a monster named Monoculus are well drawn and credible. Tumanov keeps a lively pace, and the math puzzles are clearly explained, both the riddles and the solutions, and so readers can try the puzzles for themselves, or just read along and see how Alex and his friends do it. The story line is engaging, with a charming, desperate Queen and an evil, threatening King. The only weakness in the plot is how the ending is handled. Tension builds and builds to the climax, a showdown with Rechner in our world, at summer camp, but then suddenly everything is a bit too tidily wrapped up and it's over. This isn't a big criticism - it's a bit anticlimactic, but not overly so.

The book is one of Scholastic's trade paperback originals. Since the paper isn't of the best quality, the book won't last for years. Encourage people to read it now! They'll thank you for it.

Recommended.

Janet Delgatty is Collections Librarian with Children's Services of the Vancouver Island Regional Library, based in Nanaimo, BC.

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

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