CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 6. . . . October 13, 2017
Camelia Airheart is a Canada goose with a problem! Her GPS – Goose Positioning System – does not work. She cannot concentrate on the flying formation, and, as a result, she is constantly getting lost. In Follow the Goose Butt, Camelia Airheart!, the flock is flying to Branta Bog in the province of New Brunswick. Distracted by a fishing boat on the water, Camelia dives for a quick look – and loses the flock!
Now on a solo journey, Camelia has interesting experiences and meets new friends. Her first encounter is with Melville, the humpback whale. He teaches her some new words and gives her interesting information about New Brunswick. She helps him get rid of an annoying net hanging on his flipper. As she travels, she meets many others: a grumpy seagull, some sanderlings, Omar the lobster, a chickadee, a moose, Daisy the deer, and a pair of beavers.
Throughout her journey, Camelia continually sings her mother’s secret lullaby which calms her down. She also recites her flight rules: wings up and out, feet in motion, outstretched neck and butt cheeks up. With the help of newfound friends, Camelia eventually finds the flock and arrives at Branta Bog.
This early chapter book focuses on Camelia Airheart’s journey to find the flock at Branta Bog. The chapters are short with frequent repetition of rhymes and flight instructions. There are maps of New Brunswick indicating exactly where Camelia is in each chapter and which animals she has met on her journey. The black and white illustrations are interesting and detailed, giving young readers additional visual information to add to the text.
In Take Off to Tantramar, the second Camelia Airheart book, Camelia and her brother McCurdy are on a quest to find the Tantramar Wetlands. Their Aunt Tillie has a tracking bracelet on her leg, and Camelia wants one of her own. Their journey is complicated by Camelai’s constant distraction, but eventually, the two siblings find the Wetlands. Here they meet Drake, a duck who knows all about the process of getting a leg bracelet.
Drake leads Camelia into a large gaggle of geese feeding on bits of corn as they are corralled into a cramped pen. After finding herself trapped, Camelia is terrified. “Two large gloved hands clamped her wings close to her body. She couldn’t move. Camelia was tossed and turned, flipped over, poked and prodded.” Is this the process of getting a bracelet? Meanwhile, her brother McCurdy encounters a lovely young goose – which turns out to be a decoy! After being reunited, the siblings return to their home in Branta Bog to dream of new adventures!
The second book in the Camelia Airheart series is more appealing to young readers since it uses colour in its illustrations and has a more simply written text. There are fewer complicated passages for readers to negotiate. The storyline of Camelia and McCurdy looking for the Tantramar Wetlands is also easier to understand.
These two books are part of the “Camelia Airheart” series from Chocolate River Publishing. Both books are aimed at beginning readers. The complicated vocabulary and lengthy chapters in Follow the Goose Butt might prove to be challenging for some young readers. This book also has many characters appearing for very short segments in the text. The second book, Take Off to Tantramar, is focused on addressing the needs of young readers by concentrating on fewer characters and one specific situation. It also uses simpler vocabulary and terminology.
Parents and teachers can read these books aloud to students, or more competent young readers can read them on their own. These books could also be used to address several subject areas including: mathematics, geography, art and ecology.
Recommended With Reservations.
Myra Junyk is a literacy advocate and author.