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