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Book Reviews

Lower the Trap

by Jessica Scott Kerrin

Halifax author Jessica Scott Kerrin, best known for her boy-targeted Martin Bridge books, draws on local fishing traditions and lore for her new Lobster Chronicles trilogy. 

The first book introduces readers to ­middle-grader Graeme Swinimer, an ocean enthusiast and aspiring marine biologist. When Graeme’s fisherman father accidentally snares a gigantic lobster, he debates whether to put it up for auction and use the proceeds to take his son on a trip to one of the biggest research aquariums in the world, or let the sizable crustacean return to its ­watery home and live out the rest of its years as a legend. It is up to Graeme and the residents of the Swinimers’ small town of Lower Narrow Spit to decide the lobster’s fate, a ­dilemma that forces Graeme to pit his own self-interest against what is best for the underwater creature.

Kerrin uses a child’s natural curiosity for the strange and spectacular to explore an important aspect of Canadian life that will be unfamiliar to those who live in parts of the country where commercial fishing is not a way of life. Readers are given a glimpse of issues, including the struggle between fishermen and the canneries that employ them, not often addressed in literature for the target age group.

Kerrin’s approach to the series, in which each book will be told from the perspective of a different narrator, has the potential to be a powerful teaching tool. In Lower the Trap, Graeme’s viewpoint explores the concept of putting others first. The upcoming sequel, told in the voice of the cannery owner’s son, promises to have a much different bent.