Terror on Turtle Creek

19 December 2012

Terror on Turtle Creek
by Jean Freeman
illustrated by RoseMarie Condon
Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing
Review by Keith Foster
$14.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-77-4

As a longtime admirer of Jean Freeman’s work, I knew I was in for a good read when I saw she was the author of Terror on Turtle Creek.

The story follows the exploits of Barry Richards, a youngster prone to anger and negative thoughts, who works hard to avoid work. He volunteers to help fill sandbags when Turtle Creek floods over, but slinks away to relax in an unmoored boat. When it slips into the raging river and starts to sink, Barry struggles to steer himself to a flooded house.

There he meets the stranded occupants, Sara McKeever and her three younger siblings, ranging in age from eight to three – Sam, Josh, and Emily—and Emily’s doll, Angelina Poot.

Each chapter title is actually a time stamp that allows the reader to follow the story in real time. Teeming with challenges, each chapter ends in suspense. Just as the children are coping with one crisis, another comes crashing down on them. I immediately felt compelled to read the next chapter to see how, or if, Barry and the children would survive the continuous catastrophes.

Will they be rescued before the house slides into the swirling torrent? When a boat with two men in it suddenly appears, they believe they have been saved. But their supposed “rescuers” have anything but rescue on their minds.

The story revolves around several unexpected heroes, not the least of which is Angelina Poot.

In their struggle to survive, the children are aided by their own ingenuity and by following that fine Prairie tradition of making do with what they have.

This is Jean’s fourth book. Although geared for a young audience, adults can enjoy it too. She uses simple but evocative language: Sam had “a generous sprinkling of freckles” and “Josh was curled up like a caterpillar cocoon in a bundle of blankets.”

A Saskatchewan icon, Jean was a founding member of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild and is widely remembered for her role as the mayor’s grandmother in the popular television series, “Corner Gas.”

In addition to the wrap-around colour cover illustration, artist RoseMarie Condon provides 13 black and white drawings that capture the characters in action.

Unlike the fast-flowing flood waters, Terror on Turtle Creek is a smooth read, and a satisfying one.

I wonder when we can expect a sequel.


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