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HIGGINS HOLE by Kevin Boreen


by Kevin Boreen & illustrated by David Clark

Age Range: 8 - 11

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-57091-641-0
Publisher: Charlesbridge

A middle-grade undersea fantasy angles to be a comical clambake but reels in only a damp debacle.

Higgins Hole is a paradisiacal reef off the Florida Keys, where sharks, shellfish and sealife of every kind live in harmony under the wise leadership of Lutus the lobster—until their peaceful idyll is invaded by the monstrous white shark Tacitus and his gang of thugs. Every denizen of the deep, from the tiniest shrimp to the giant blue whales, will have to summon unprecedented courage to save their home, with just a little unexpected assist from the abyss. The premise is a charming one, but when the prologue drains any potential suspense by announcing a complete, casualty-free victory, the story needs to rely instead upon a likable voice or clever execution. Unfortunately, the first-person narration by the vainglorious grandiloquent seahorse Petronius (and especially his tedious reliance on incessant, groan-worthy puns) quickly becomes annoying, while the broad political and social satire will most likely sail over the heads of younger readers. The cartoony ink illustrations provide a certain goofy brio, and the brief chapters and constant cliffhangers might make for a passable classroom read-aloud. The failure to allow any named female a role beyond passive oracle or silly damselfish-in-distress, however, unnecessarily excludes half the potential audience, while the condescending tone and corny humor will probably alienate the rest.

Steer clear. (Fantasy. 8-11)