CM Magazine Review - Waiting for Pelly

Reviewed by: Deborah Mervold

The sequel to Pelly is a stand-alone novel, and it is not necessary to have read the first one to enjoy the second. Waiting for Pelly is the story of Sandra and her father, Wesley, who have recently moved from Big River, in northern Saskatchewan to the city of Saskatoon. Sandra's mother had died when Sandra was born, and her grandmother lives in Big River. During the previous summer, Sandra had interacted with a pelican she named Pelly, although no one believes that she can identify that particular pelican. She visits the weird every day to see if Pelly has returned with the other birds. At the weir, she meets a university  student, Jennifer, who has been hired for the summer to do a study of the pelicans. With her father's permission, Sandra goes to Jennifer to Redberry Lake, about an hour north of Saskatoon, to view the pelicans as they are nesting. When there, Sandra sees Pelly and her baby. She continues to watch the weir to see if Pelly will stop there before journeying on.

A secondary plot, which adds interest and humour, is the battle of the garden. When Sandra and her father move into a small house near the weird, the yard is consumed by weeds. They decide to plant a garden. The neighbour on one side is an elderly man, Mr. Ilic, who is very grumpy and wants only vegetables to be planted. The neighbour on the other side is Rosemary, a bossy woman who is continually interfering with the yard and wants only flowers to be planted. Sandra believes that each is sabotaging the work of the other. The pair are, however, unified in hating a neighbourhood cat believed to be a stray. Things aren't always what they seem when Sandra realizes that Mr. Ilic is not destroying the flowers but taking them for a female friend with whom he goes bicycling.

Another character who adds some tension to the plot is Rosemary's grandson, Jeremy. Jeremy meets Sandra when he hits her with a golf ball when he is playing in the alley. Jeremy, to Sandra's dismay, spends Saturdays with her as Rosemary is away. At Redberry, Jeremy gets them into trouble when he takes a canoe without understanding the correct procedures.

The interesting and realistic characters are not overly developed but are suitable for the intended audience. Wesley acts as a concerned parent and takes the proper precautions when Sandra goes with a relative stranger to study the pelicans. The setting is realistic although not detailed. The strength of the novel is in the description of the pelicans, their behavior, their mating practices, and their journey of migration. Although Waiting for Pelly is a work of fiction, it could spark a definite interest in nature and, in particular, in pelicans. The description is excellent as David Glaze explains what the pelicans are doing.

Chapters are varied in length making a suitable read for the age group. The vocabulary is well developed and interesting. Word choice is very suitable. The lsightly larger paperback size and larger print makes this novel easy to read. The pelican illustration over each of the chapter headings was a good addition. Also the drawings throughout the novel added a visual impact to the characters or setting.

I would recommend this novel to many young readers particularly because of the novel's environmental aspect. Although the main character is female, this fact should not deter male readers. Waiting for Pelly would make an excellent read aloud novel and would tie in very well with the Science curriculum. I would suggest this novel as an excellent addition to public, school and personal libraries.



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