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Janet McNaughton
St. John's (Nfld.), Tuckamore Books, 1994. 168pp, paper, $11.95
ISBN 1-895387-38-8. CIP

Eve Williams

Volume 22 Number 5
1994 October

It is 1942. Ev McCallum is alone (figuratively) in the busy port of wartime St. John's. Her father, to the dismay of his family, has enlisted and is somewhere in North Africa, her mother is sleeping away her difficult pregnancy, her grandmother is cold, and her grandfather busy. Ev, meanwhile, has to cope with a new school, new home, indifferent peers, and unsettling change. How she copes, has adventures, and meets up with unpleasant humans and supernatural activities makes Catch Me Once, Catch Me Twice an interesting read.

Unfairly, my heart sank when I saw the theme--young adult battles adversity in historical Canadian setting. Many of my young readers run a mile from this type of book, having learned the hard way that this is often the surest sign of an insipid novel. However, I will recommend this novel to my good readers in grade 6. Janet McNaughton provides a real plot, magic, adventure, and thought-provoking characters. The secret of her success is the amount of effort she's invested in those characters. Ev and her friend Peter are "real," and even the distant adults and the "below stairs" workers are believable.

We watch Millie the maid discovering how hard it is to leave an abusive relationship, Ev's mother battling depression, Grandmother McCallum, a control freak, finding out that wartime wrests everything away. We see Peter, the disabled best friend, coming to terms with his disability and cutting out a path for himself so that he can go on with his life. No-so-friendly magic touches the young protagonist and changes everything. All the strands in this story come together in one satisfactory braid.

Catch Me Once, Catch Me Twice is a good story, told well.

Grades 5 to 7 / Ages 10 to 12

Eve Williams is a grade 6 teacher at Lewisville Junior High in Moncton, New Brunswick

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