Grades 3 - 7 / Ages 8 - 12.
Eleven-year old Samantha (Sam) Ross has flown from Toronto to spend a month of the summer holidays with her fourteen-year old twin cousins in a remote area on the north-west coast of Vancouver Island. It does not take long for her to realize that her cousins feel she is a nuisance and that she doesn't understand fishing, boating, and the West Coast life style.
In addition, Robyn, her girl-cousin, enjoys making Sam the butt of her jokes and dubs her "Gullible" when she falls for one tall tale after another. Sam finally decides to spend her summer exploring on her own, and on one of her jaunts into the woods she comes across a mother cougar and two cubs. When no one will believe she has seen them, Sam persists in studying everything she can about cougars anyway. Rewarded when the cougars appear again, it is Sam who helps identify them. She also learns some valuable lessons about the danger of having wild animals close to man's habitat --- dangerous to both animals and people.
This is a very pleasant read and should appeal to animal-lovers, especially girls. It is also an excellent character study of a young, sensitive girl who has never been in wilderness country before. The following excerpt shows how Julie Lawson makes us aware of her nervousness soon after her arrival:
Sam couldn't sleep. First, there was the worry. Before going to bed, Robyn handed her a flashlight and whispered, "Don't forget- outhouse rules after lights out. And if you hear a scratching in the middle of the night, it's only the ghost in the attic. Unless it's the bear."Julie Lawson is a Victoria author who has written The Dragon's Pearl, White Jade Tiger and Fires Burning. She seems very much at home writing for the 8-12 age group.
Second, there was the quiet. Where was the familiar sound of traffic? The hum of the streetlights? Where was the light? It had been easy to fall asleep last night. Jet lag had seen to that - But now.. .
She turned her pillow to the cool side, curled up and tried counting sheep. It didn't work.
Maybe if she counted the worries. One the bear, two the ghost, three the outhouse, four the fishing rod, five tomorrow, six the day after, seven... Her heart began to thump, and she realized that counting her worries was only making her more awake.
Helen Norrie taught for 18 years as a teacher-librarian in a number of Winnipeg schools. She is teaching a course in Children's Literature at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in the winter term, 1997. She writes a regular monthly column on children's books for the Winnipeg Free Press.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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