________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 29. . . .March 28, 2014


Saving Sammy. (Orca Echoes).

Eric Walters. Illustrated by Amy Meissner.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2014.
54 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $6.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-45980-499-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-45980-500-2 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-45980-501-9 (epub).

Subject Heading:
Beavers-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Kerry Macdonald.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Morgan peered through the glass, trying to see what was bothering Shire. Living out in the country, she had often seen wild animals wander across their property. Deer were common, but she’d also seen foxes, rabbits, and even a black bear come through the yard. She scanned the whole area but couldn’t see anything. Morgan knew that didn’t mean there wasn’t something out there. The dogs could smell what she couldn’t see. Shire continued to bark. Whatever it was, Morgan needed to investigate.


Morgan is a young girl living on the river with her parents and her two beloved dogs, Shire and Rylee. The flooding river has recently retreated, leaving Morgan’s yard full of washed up branches. When Shire finds a baby beaver hidden among the debris, Morgan must feed and care for it while facing some difficult decisions about the beaver’s future.

internal art     As with so many of Eric Walters’ books, there is more than meets the eye to this storyline. While the imminent danger of a flood has passed, Morgan grapples with her fear of nature’s unpredictable ways and of being displaced by the swelling river. Morgan and her mother discuss this fear part way through the book when her mother says, “You know that your father and I would never let anything happen to you, right? We’d leave before the floodwaters reached the house.” Caring for the baby beaver helps Morgan realize that she has an important role to play in an otherwise, seemingly uncontrollable situation. In this way, the story gives children an invaluable message. No matter how young you are or what your situation is, there is always something you can do.

     One of the wonderful things about this book are the illustrations done by Amy Meissner. The cover of this book is executed in what looks to be drawing and watercolour style and seems a bit old-fashioned for young children. However, the image of the baby beaver is sure to grab the attention of both young girls and boys. The illustrations inside are tactfully drawn in classic black and white, and each illustration takes up a full page opposite the text. The pictures are placed on approximately every second page, making each of the eight chapters very manageable for young readers. As the mother of a reluctant reader, I know it’s important to offer my son books that don’t look “baby-ish”, and Saving Sammy certainly passed the test!

     Walters’ writing style and choice of words make this book an excellent choice for beginning readers and also for reluctant readers. It contains enough challenging words to support advancement while providing enough common or high frequency words to ensure that the reluctant reader won’t be discouraged. Sentences are generally kept short. The suspense that the plot offers, as well as the message of empowerment, will ensure that children aren’t bored or disengaged regardless of what reading level they are at.

     Saving Sammy is sure to please any young reader as well as keep listening parents entertained. This book would be a wonderful addition to any children’s literature collection. It could be a very good choice for reluctant readers or for older children reading at a lower grade level.


Kerry Macdonald is a librarian at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB, and the mother of two boys, aged five and nine.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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