Sarah's Stars

Shaun Smith. Snakes and Ladders
Dundurn $12.99  ISBN 978-1-55002-840-9  235 pg.
Reviewed by Samantha, Age 12

Paige rolled away, pulling herself toward the gap in the fort just as the air filled with a loud crackle and a strange earthy smell, like the odor of ironing. The fort opened up beneath her, and Paige dropped through the gap as the air above her exploded. Then she was falling, falling through the rain and hail and wind toward the target below and its enormous red dot.

Snakes and Ladders takes place in the late nineteen hundreds. Itís about thirteen-year-old Paige Morrow. Paige, her brother Toby, and their mother Susan are staying at their lakeside cabin for the summer. Something is different; her mother has taken up drinking and burying herself in a typewriter, writing her book. And her father has stopped coming up on weekends.

Lonely and bored, Paige befriends the mysterious arboristís troubled daughter, Janie, and her gang. As she hangs out with them more and more, trouble starts to occur, and Paige finds herself in a web of lies and pain-maybe even murder. If that wasn't enough, her tree fort is being cut down!  How will she save her tree? What can she and Toby do about her motherís new habits, or her fatherís sudden neglect? Also, what is really going on with Janie and her father?

This is definitely my favorite book. I love the story line, and the way that Smith writes is like youíre Paigeís best friend, and that you are experiencing everything with her.  The story made me laugh, feel frustrated, scared, nervous, and the ending made me cry. I loved every part of it. Recommended for ages ten and up, but some parts are a bit hard to follow and some things are a bit mature for a younger reader.

Overall, best book Iíve ever read.   I give Smithís first novel, Snakes and Ladders, five stars


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