________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 21 . . . . June 20, 2003

cover Bats in the Garbage. (A First Flight Level Four Reader).

Sharon Jennings. Illustrated by John Mardon.
Toronto, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2003.
74 pp., pbk., $6.95.
ISBN 1-55041-723-1.

Subject Heading:
Friendships-Fiction-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Julie Hunt.

*** /4


And as soon as I got home, I went to call on Simon. He lives on the street behind mine, so I walked along the fences in all the backyards, the way I've always done ever since Simon moved in.

"Walk the plank! Walk the plank!"

It was old Mrs. Hook. I was so surprised, I fell off and landed in her garden. She came after me with her rake.

"Get away from there! Get out, you little varmint!" she hollered.

"I don't want to be here," I said. "You made me fall."

"My tomatoes!" she shrieked. "Look at my tomatoes!"

I looked. I had fallen on top of her tomatoes. Now lots of them were sticking to my rear end.

I jumped up on the fence and took off back home.

Simon and Sam, Bat Club members, best friends and amateur sleuths, stumble upon another mystery in Bats in the Garbage, third in a series by Sharon Jennings. Through a predictable but fast-moving plot, the boys struggle to earn money for the upcoming summer fair. This is especially significant for Sam as this will be the first time he doesn't have to line up for kiddie rides with his little sister. Instead, he will go with his best friend, Simon. The friendship theme plays out well as the boys work together to earn money after Simon has to give almost all of his savings to his eccentric neighbour for ruining her tomatoes. They concoct a plan for selling compost tea at the farmer's market. However, their plans are foiled when their money is stolen. It isn't long before the boys bite into this mystery and set up surveillance on Mrs. Hook, their crazy neighbour.

     While the plot is predictable and the characters only moderately developed, this fast paced book will engage readers making the transition into chapter books. The friendship between characters is strongly developed, and the inclusion of a secret club and mystery will delight young boys. By writing in the first person, the author develops a good sense of Sam's feelings and, through his informal speech, has developed a believable character. The size of print is appropriate for older primary readers, and the text is supported by attractive line drawings every two or three pages. Bats in the Garbage is recommended for independent reading.


Julie Hunt is a teacher At West Bay School in West Vancouver, BC.

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