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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rex Zero, The Great Pretender, written by Tim Wynne-Jones. Groundwood Books, 2009. $12.95 ages 10 and up

"The scariest intro to any show on TV is in The Vise. There's this silhouette of a guy standing in the jaws of a huge vise. The screw is turning, the vise is closing and the guy is waving his arms in the air because he can't move and soon...soon..."

In his third book. Rex continues his journey as a young man learning the ropes and coming of age in Ottawa in the 1960s. This time he is faced with leaving his best friends behind when his family moves and he is slated to go to a new school. Through perseverance and some creative maneuvering Rex manages to stay at his chosen school until a heart to heart talk with his mother following her meeting with Rex’s principal. The jig is up and Rex must transfer to Connaught, the middle school in his area. The move doesn’t end the bullying that started at his old school, Hopewell. Rex finally resorts to extreme measures to get Spew off his back and end the harassment. A chance encounter with Spew and his father has Rex rethinking his motives and actions. There is sweet revenge in the end and we leave Rex and his friends once more, all the while hoping it won’t be long until we meet them again. This is a great series to share with middle school readers. Tim Wynne-Jones has created a character to be admired and followed into his next adventure. A perfect cover illustration by Simon Ng is sure to capture the interest of its target audience.

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