The Principal's Kid

by Joan Weir

Published by Polestar

173 pages, 1999


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Stolen Prawns and Adventure

Reviewed by Linda L. Richards

 

An international prawn smuggling ring, a couple of weird accidents and the apparent involvement of the title character in an odd series of house break-ins sets the stage for accidental sleuths Lion and Bobbi to start on a new adventure. A sequel to 1998's The Witcher, The Principal's Kid nonetheless stands on its own.

There are very few references to the first tale here, nor do any of the things learned about Bobbi and Lion in book one reflect very much on book two. While in The Witcher Bobbi and Lion -- with the help of their trusty steeds Brie and Raj -- help solve a mystery involving a water witcher, the action in The Principal's Kid takes place in a fishing community. One thing carries through in both books: Lion's uneasy relationship with his horse Raj is the source of both humor and warmth.

Bobbi and Lion are a likable enough duo, a brother and sister whose divorced father is a prominent criminal lawyer. Dad is likable, too. As well, he provides the means by which Lion and Bobbi manage to get themselves into these mystery-solving scrapes. While he's off trying to solve problems, Lion and Bobbi often find themselves in a better position to do the actual solving; albeit sometimes inadvertently.

On the whole, Bobbi and Lion (he dropped the 'L' off the end of "Lionel" for a more socially acceptable name), are entirely believable and kid-like: behaving in ways that good kids do. Author Joan Weir is a seasoned wordsmith. She's written 10 other juvenile and young adult novels and four works of historical non-fiction, as well as having been a script writer for the Nickelodeon children's television network.

The mystery here is solid, as is the storytelling and most often the dialog rings true. However, as is often the case with books aimed at this age group, some of the words that come out of these kids' mouths seem unlikely, if not impossible.

"But can they co-exist?" Bobbi put in. "Mightn't the pulp and paper industry pose problems for the fish stocks?"

From a 14-year-old? Even a very intelligent and articulate one? I don't think so. Still, problems like this are minimal. For the most part, The Principal's Kid is a bright and compelling tale whose non-precocious heroes don't actually set out to save the day, but whose basic goodness and caring often places them in the position to do so. If there's a message in The Principal's Kid, it's about peer pressure and how not to succumb to it, but the message is subtle enough that you don't feel like you're being worked over by a hammer. The Principal's Kid is a happy adventure with some positive threads; a good read for younger "young adults". | July 1999

 

Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine. Her fourth novel, Death was the Other Woman, is published by St. Martin's Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books.