THIS is a children'sbook about two ?ordinary? brothers aged 12 and 10 and their sister, who is 18 years of age. One fine day, both Johnny and Tom are told by their mother that they would be going on a holiday to Finland. Both the youngsters are thrilled to their bones. They reach the snow-laden slopes in Finland where the boys go on a ride on their sledges. While playing, they forget how much time has elapsed and find that it has become dark. But so fascinated are they by the snow that they go bounding through the snow. It becomes icy cold. Here the author offers a very vivid description of the environment: ?Tom couldn'tsee clearly?he could hardly see anything. There were trees around. Suddenly these were gone. The sled jumped, went over a buried rock. But Tom couldn'treally see.?
Tom and Johnny find themselves gliding over the snow, behind eight dogs or huskies. They see a hut in the distance and decide to reach it. They try to stay on their sled; they lean back as far as they can. ?It wasn'tthe speed; it wasn'tthe swerves and jumps. It was the fact that they couldn'tsee. The dogs seemed even faster in the dark and the speed seemed dangerous. But the quicker they went, they could reach the hut. Suddenly Tom felt the sled slide away beneath him and he landed with his face in the snow.? They return home and on returning home find their mother missing. Finally Tom decides to go in search of their mother with Johnny. They often turn to look behind but cannot see anything. All around is stark snow?no sign of the hut or lights. They are in the wilderness. Johnny often turns to ensure if Tom is behind him or not. Soon they charge through the dark. They go under tall trees. They feel them, right over their heads and it seems to grow darker still. Tom is unable to see anything. The boys can hear the dogs, but cannot see them. They continue racing on the snow in pitch darkness in search of their mother?
This story written by an internationally famous author of A Star Called Henry and winner of the Booker Prize, provides for some thrilling reading for young children, though it will not be so well appreciated by Indian readers who are unfamiliar with snow and sleds and huskies with which they will not be able to relate.
(Scholastic, Euston House, 24 Evershalt Street, London NW1 I DB, UK.)