________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 19. . . .January 19, 2016


Salamander Rescue. (Orca Echoes).

Pamela McDowell. Illustrated by Kasia Charko.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2016.
75 pp., pbk., pdf & epub., $6.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1123-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598 1124-9 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1125-6 (epub).

Subject Heading:
Salamanders-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Robert Groberman.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


“Don’t try to grab him by the tail,” Dr. Kate warned. “Squeeze him gently between his front and back legs and cup him in your hands. He won’t squirm in the dark. Go ahead and give it a try.”

“He likes the dark?” Shilo asked in surprise.

Dr. Kate nodded. “He feels safer in the dark, so he’s calmer.”

“Lucky him.”


Salamander Rescue is author Pamela McDowell’s second book about Cricket McKay, a young girl living in small town Alberta, with the first book being Ospreys in Danger. She and her friends are very interested in their environment and how they can help make their town of Waterton a friendlier place for animals. In this story, Cricket meets Dr. Pantillo who is moving salamanders across a busy street in Waterton. She tells Cricket and her friends that a new curb built on one side on the street is preventing salamanders from travelling on their usual migration route and that they are trapped on the road while trying to climb the curb. Dr. Pantillo is actually carrying as many of the thousands of salamanders as she can in buckets to lift them over the curb.

     Cricket, her best friend and her older brother immediately begin problem solving how to save these salamanders. Older brother Tyler experiments with making a small ramp out of rocks, and the salamanders use it to climb the curb. The young group immediately puts a plan into action to raise money to buy cement to build a wider ramp along the curb to help many more of the salamanders, and it works.

     McDowell’s writing style is clear and interesting. Her use of clear vocabulary like “cement is corrosive” and “He was crouched at the curb” give the reader a good idea of the story and action even where an illustration is not present.

     Illustrations by Kasia Charko are excellent and give a clear picture of difficult conceptualizing, especially her depiction of how the final ramp looked and how it was used by the salamanders.


Robert Groberman is a grade one teacher at Katzie Elementary School in Surrey, BC.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
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