One John A. Too Many
Lois L. Parris was a freelance writer in Winnipeg.
Two things are wrong with this book. First, the time setting is confusing. The atmosphere, dialogue, and illustrations suggest a date early in the century. But no, because we are told that John A. Macdonald visited this town of Harmony 125 years ago. So when is this anniversary celebration taking place? We don’t know. Second, most of the adult characters are stereotyped caricatures. Young readers may not notice this, but the author should not be stamping out cardboard characters. Only the bad guys come across with any believable personality.
The story itself is good, once it gets rolling. When Harmony celebrates its 125th anniversary, a leading citizen dresses up as John A. Macdonald. Andrew, a 10-year-old boy always in trouble, is more interested in the circus. Peeking through a hole in a tent, he sees a tall man dressed in old-fashioned clothes. When the bank is held up by a man dressed as John A., Andy blurts out that he’s the man from the circus. Gagged and bound, he’s carted off in a trunk. The misadventures continue piling up until a happy ending is reached, with Andy as a hero. Andy’s character is well depicted.
The plot has enough action to interest boys from 8 to 10. More attention to details of time setting and characters would have given the story more depth.