HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Zeus and Roxanne
Author: Patricia Hermes
Publisher: Aladdin, 1997
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 7-11
Rating: *** 3 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Hermes, Patricia. Zeus and Roxanne (published in 1997 by Minstrel Paperbacks, an imprint of Pocket Books, a division of Simon and Schuster Inc., 1230 Ave. of the Americas, New York City, NY 10020). Zeus is a lovable, troublemaking mutt who is racing along the bay in Key West, FL. He finds that he appears to be able to communicate with Roxanne, a lonely, formerly injured dolphin separated from her pod. Zeus belongs to ten year old Jordan Barnett and his musician father Terry, who is unsuccessfully trying to write a rock opera. Jordan’s mother has died. The Barnetts have come to Key West for the summer and live across the street from Mary Beth Dunhill, a marine biologist, and her two daughters Nora, fourteen, and Judith, twelve. The girls’ father has left and remarried. It just so happens that Mary Beth is trying to get a grant to continue her study of Roxanne. Zeus chases a cat into the Dunhills’ garden and then, noticing her photo of the same dolphin from earlier, follows Mary Beth to her workplace where she learns that Zeus and Roxanne can do “inter-species communication.” She asks Jordan if she could borrow Zeus for her research on Roxanne.
Meanwhile, Terry begins to fall in love with Mary Beth as he manages to find inspiration for his music, while Jordan bonds with Judith and Nora. The three kids decide to turn two separate households into a single family. But after seeing a photo of his late wife, Terry decides to pursue his original plan of traveling to another town to continue writing his music. While staying at a hotel with his owners, Zeus runs away back to Mary Beth’s research center. Her boss and rival, Claude Carver, who wants the research grant money to come to him and not Mary Beth, tells her that Roxanne was caught in an illegal fishing net and killed. Then he captures Zeus to use as bait to lure out Roxanne, who is in fact alive. When Mary Beth goes looking for the dolphin in a submersible, the propeller becomes tangled in Claude’s nets. What happens to Mary Beth? Will Zeus ever be found? And can Roxanne ever be reunited with her pod? Most often, there is first a book which someone then makes into a movie, usually not too well. But this book is a novelization of a 1997 film by released MGM, directed by George T. Miller, and Steve Guttenberg and Kathleen Quinlan.
The comedy/adventure story generally has a feel-good, family-friendly plot line, but a few problems do occur that should be pointed out for concerned parents. There are some common euphemisms (e.g., gosh) and references to Terry and Mary Beth involved in slow dancing. The film is rated PG because “some material may not be suitable for children.” The rating doesn’t specify what that material is. I haven’t seen the movie, so I don’t know what the language is like in it, but Terry and Mary Beth spend the night at a local beachside resort. It is not said that they slept together, but it could be implied, and later Terry agrees to move into Mary Beth’s house with Jordan and Zeus. The two do eventually get married, but apparently they have no qualms about living together beforehand. It is little, subtle things like this which turn an otherwise good book or movie into propaganda for the sexual revolution. People with discernment will beware.