CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 2 . . . . September 20, 2002
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.
Janet Delgatty is Collections Librarian with Children's Services of the Vancouver Island Regional Library, based in Nanaimo, BC.
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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.