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Snakes and Ladders Book Review

Snakes and Ladders Book Review - Reviewed by Kidzworld on Jan 31, 2009
( Rating: 4 Star Rating)

One heroic act changes a family’s life forever. Check out Shaun Smith’s debut teen novel, Snakes and Ladders.

Author: Shaun Smith

One heroic act changes a family’s life forever. Check out Shaun Smith’s debut teen novel, Snakes and Ladders.

Summer in Ontario

During the summer of 1971, 13 year-old Paige and her family retreat to their country cottage in Ontario, Canada. Paige spends her days reading about the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and helping her little brother Toby protect a nest of duck eggs from a so-called “cobra.” Paige never actually sees the snake, and her brother has terrible eyesight. But even though Paige reassures Toby that there are no cobras in Ontario, he stands by what he saw.

Go-Carts and Secrets

After Paige’s grandfather passed away, Mr. Thorvald and his wife bought his land. Now Mr. Thorvald wants to tear down the tree that holds Paige’s favorite tree fort to build a go-cart track. And worse, Paige discovers a haunting secret about her babysitter’s father, the man who Mr. Thorvald hired to cut down the tree.

The Battle of the Tree Fort

When the men arrive to fell the tree, Paige stands her ground. She refuses to get down from the fort. Police try to remove her, but she only climbs higher or jumps to unreachable branches. Soon the fire department and the rest of the town arrive, including a group of tree-hugging hippies who surround the tree for protection. But when an awful storm brews, things get ugly. Will Paige be able to save her beloved tree fort? Or will she fall mercy to the storm?

The Bottom Line

While written simply, this book is touching, intriguing and devastating. It starts off slow, and often sounds too young for a teen novel. But as soon as the awful secrets come out, the story takes off. Paige’s father stops coming to the cottage on the weekends and her mother drinks too much. The boyfriend of her brother’s babysitter shows up at night, feeding alcohol and cigarettes to Paige and insisting that they play spin the bottle. And when visiting the babysitter’s rundown shack, Paige reads her diary and discovers the terrible secret about their family. Snakes and Ladders is a story that you won’t soon forget.

Snakes and Ladders Rating: 4

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