The Friendship Solution; My Father's Ghost
Andrew Dewar was a graduate of the journalism program at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto, and on the staff of the North York Public Library.
These two stories about Greek-Canadian children are colourful and interesting, but they lack that certain something that would make them really good.
Both are loaded down with detail, and it may be this that makes them seem a little heavy. The places they describe are quite real neighbourhoods in Toronto, and the characters are conspicuously Greek, so they are very narrow stories. And yet, they do not make any real use within the plots of the Greek heritage, so that this seems like excess baggage and distances the reader. There is nothing to really draw the reader into the stories.
The plots are fine. In My Father’s Ghost a young boy discovers the identity of a man who appears in front of the family restaurant. The man is so similar to the boy’s (still living) father that he might be a ghost; he turns out to be a twin thought long dead. The story reads like a folktale, with a nice ending. The Friendship Solution is about a young girl who is required to steal a brooch from her mother to prove friendship. She is new in the neighbourhood, and she has to decide whether the friendship is worth the theft. In the end, she manages to befriend the girls without any testing, and discovers that there is more to the relationship than contractual obligations.
Both stories are pleasant and meaningful, but they are much longer than they ought to be. My Father’s Ghost would make a fine short folktale and The Friendship Solution a great short story, if the unnecessary detail were omitted. The Greek-Canadian details, for instance, seem to add nothing; while interesting on their own, they are a little out of place in stories about children who might be from any cultural background.
Still, this is a nice little book, just right for the nine- to thirteen-year-old group it is aimed at.