October 05, 2012

Jump Cut: Seven the Series

by Ted Staunton
Orca Book Publishers
978-1-55469-947-6
220 pp.
Ages 9-12
Release date October 10, 2012

While his 15-year-old brother Bunny is getting tattooed to fulfill his grandfather's last wishes (Ink Me by Richard Scrimger), Spencer O'Toole (17) is off to Buffalo with his dad, Jer, to film his kiss from the aging film star, Gloria Lorraine.  While his dad waits outside her retirement home, the tiny elderly woman, still platinum blonde and with heavy make-up, sunglasses, red fingernails and posing with a cigarette, insists that Spencer work for that kiss by helping her run "a few errands." With that, somewhere a director would be shouting, "Action!"

Starting in the fall, Spencer would be starting film studies at Humber College and he sees everything in terms of a script or lighting or scenery or direction.  And with her seemingly simple demand, Miss Lorraine, or GL to her friends, takes Spencer on an adventure that even he can't believe is real.

Stealing a white Cadillac convertible at the retirement home and picking up GL's granddaughter, AmberLea, GL has them heading to Canada.  Of course, there is the complication of the large man and chihuahua they find bound in the trunk of the car, with clear packages of white powder.  He's Al Capoli, a baker known as the King of Cannoli, and his dog, Mister Bones, and Al claims that another resident at the retirement home, Rocco Wings, wants to kill him for allegedly double-crossing him on a deal.  So, with Rocco and his sons in pursuit, the unlikely cast of characters heads for Torrance, Ontario so that GL can share a few secrets with AmberLea before it's too late and Spencer can just fulfill what seemed like a simple request from his grandfather, David McLean.  Unbeknownst to Spencer, though, his grandfather has an important role in GL's secrets, and their telling will help explain all.

Spencer realizes that GL is treating the adventure as if it were a movie in the making and, in fact, is trying to make her life into a movie.  After all, Miss Lorraine claims,
"Life is a movie with no jump cuts.  It's the cutting that makes the movie." (pg. 82)
 If Jump Cut were a movie, and it would make a fantastic film, it would an action thriller with a quirky cast and many surprises, and the audience would be relentlessly sitting on the edge of their seats and falling back with belly laughs.  Ted Staunton's sense of humour is divine, especially when verbalized by the indomitable Gloria Lorraine.  From continually getting Spencer's name wrong (is it Spanky, Spritzer, Skinner or Spunky?) and running into Tim Horton's and other places to change her Dependables (adult diapers) and shooting off a gun she believes is fake, GL is is larger than life.  Ted Staunton has enriched her with the voice of age, experience, compassion and life.  She has it all.  Luckily, Spencer, in a perennial state of disbelief, sees her and their story as a great epic, needing to be told.

Like Kill Bill, the movie Spencer is watching for the fifteenth time at the beginning of the book, Jump Cut has the eccentric elements of a cult classic.  But, I suspect, that Jump Cut and all the other books in Orca's Seven The Series will definitely stay in the mainstream for a long time with their popularity ensuring their status as classics.

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