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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

Adventure • Net: The Lost Sketch

Reviewed: August 31, 2002
By: Andrea and David Spaulding
Publisher: Whitecap Books
101 pages, $8.95

The Adventure • Net series follows the journeys of Rick and Willow Forster, two youngsters who live in a school bus with their parents and travel all over the country while the senior Forsters pursue their careers in film making.

In the first of their adventures, Rock and Willow have been enrolled in a summer canoe camp in the Algoma district of Ontario for a few weeks while their parents work on a contract job in the area. It is while canoeing that they discover the old, abandoned, boxcar in the woods, and Willow, who has previously taken some of the day camp art courses at the Art Gallery of Ontario, is convinced that it's the boxcar the Group of Seven painters used to use when they took their annual excursions into this part of the province on the Algoma Central Railway.

On top of that, they discover an oil sketch,similar to the sort of thing the group members used to do when they were on their trips. Willow is pretty certain it's a sketch by Arthur Lismer. In trying to find out they leave themselves wide open to the machinations of a local art dealer who is a Group of Seven groupie and a lot less honest than he should be.

Rick and Willow are modern sleuths and make a lot of use of the internet to track down the clues to their mystery. Many of the references they find are reproduced in the  factual sidebars which are sprinkled throughout the pages of the book. These sections,like the covers of the series, are displayed as if they were  computer monitor windows, complete with URL references at the bottom of each entry.

The weakness of providing internet addresses is that they become dated so quickly as links are changed or displays are relocated to other servers. I looked up most of the ones in this book and about 10% of them no longer work as expected. The good part is that they will take you to places where you can find things related to what you were looking for in the first place, links you might never have thought of exploring if you were just surfing the net on your own.

According to the Spaldings, who were recently writers in residence here at Berton House, the division of labour on this particular book was that Andrea wrote the story and David backed it up with research, as well as writing the sidebars. The result is an interesting series for the age 7-14 group. The fourth in the series will be set in Dawson City.

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