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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

TBC: The Screech Owls' Northern Adventure

I had stated in the last Teebz's Book Club review that I was addicted to the Screech Owls series. The stories are well-written and intelligent, and I find myself unable to put the books down when I have one in my hands. Today was no different as Teebz's Book Club is proud to present The Screech Owls' Northern Adventure, written by Roy McGregor and published by McClelland & Stewart. The characters from The Night They Stole the Stanley Cup are all back, but we meet new friends in this book as the Screech Owls head north for a tournament. Of course, we discover all new problems and situations that the team members have to work through, so another adventure awaits readers in The Screech Owls' Northern Adventure!

From the ScreechOwls Online website, Roy MacGregor has been involved in hockey all his life while growing up in Huntsville, Ontario. He competed for several years against a kid named Bobby Orr who was playing in nearby Parry Sound. He worked as a columnist for the Ottawa Citizen and is now a senior columnist for the National Post. He has written several classic hockey stories, including Home Game (written with Ken Dryden) and The Home Team, and many hockey books for younger readers such as A Loonie for Luck. He and his wife, Ellen, live in Kanata, Ontario. They have four children, Kerry, Christine, Jocelyn, and Gordon. He still plays old-timers hockey and has been a minor-hockey coach for more than a decade.

The team finds itself on a bumpy airplane trip as the book opens. Jesse Highboy's father asked the team if they'd like to visit Waskaganish on the coast of James Bay to play in the First Nations Pee Wee Hockey Tournament, and the team heartily accepted the offer! Life, as the urbanized kids soon see, is far different from what they know, and some have a hard time accepting the changes presented to them.

Wayne "Nish" Nishikawa seems to be slightly off in this story as he comes off as rude and bigoted towards Jesse's extended family and the people of Waskaganish. Where Nish was goofy before, he was never quite as rude as Mr. McGregor characterizes him as seen in this story. This new character flaw leads to one of the major problems in the story as Nish puts himself, Travis, Jesse, and Rachel Highboy in serious danger.

The Screech Owls learn an incredible amount about the people of Waskaganish. From bannock to Ski-Doos to radio communication between camps, the Screech Owls get an education on how life in a northern town functions. And when Nish and his friends run into trouble, Travis realizes that for all they know, they cannot get themselves out of trouble without a little help.
Travis had never felt so helpless. If he had been in charge, Nish and he would have turned to ice on the banks of James Bay, their frozen tears proof that they had been bawling like newborn babies right to the bitter end.
The Screech Owls' Northern Adventure is an excellent look at how a community rallies around hockey in a place that is entirely different from the luxuries that the Screech Owls seemingly take for granted on a daily basis. Hunting, trapping, and fishing are all required to survive for the people of Waskaganish rather than being sport. Eating food such as brannock and goose is something none of the Screech Owls have ever done, but it's daily life in Waskaganish.

The hockey tournament goes well for Travis Lindsay and the Screech Owls, but they find themselves against Rachel Highboy's team, the Wolverines, in the final! Of course, there are no guarantees that the Screech Owls will win any games, so will Travis' team prevail or will they go home earlier than expected?

Mr. McGregor really paints a vivid picture of life in Waskaganish, and his work in showing the discomfort of the kids is really well done. Nish's character is nearly racist in his refusal to adapt to any situation presented by the people of Waskaganish, and the lesson regarding tolerance and acceptance comes through very strong in The Screech Owls' Northern Adventure. Because of the lesson presented by Mr. McGregor and because of the excellent descriptions of life near James Bay, The Screech Owls' Northern Adventure deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Look for the Screech Owls series at your local bookstore or library, starting with Mystery at Lake Placid followed by The Night They Stole the Stanley Cup which is followed by The Screech Owls' Northern Adventure!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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