Wednesday, October 11, 2017

MG Mystery/Adventure The Great Hibernation by Tara Dairman

29847480The Great Hibernation
Author:  Tara Dairman
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Number of Pages: 272
Published:  September 12th, 2017

Source:   Purchased 
Opening Line:  "The bear was dead."

In 1674,  Captain Polonius and his crew close to starvation came to what is now known as St. Polonius on the Fjord.  Suddenly they came upon a bear and after having killed and consumed its liver they went into a state of hibernation, waking again in the Spring having survived the Winter.  This event has come to be known as Founders Day, or a day to revere the saints by participating in the annual tradition of taking a bite of a bear liver.  Everyone who is at least twelve years, four months and six days old must take part and today it so happens to be Jean Huddy's turn.  Jean tries to uphold the tradition but is unable to keep the liver down, resulting in her and her parents hiding the "evidence" and playing off her failure as nerves.  Upon returning to their farm to continue the celebration, Jean's parents suddenly fall into a deep sleep.  While back in town the same thing is happening to all of the parents leaving the children to fend for themselves.  Magnus, the son of the mayor then takes charge and orders the children to run their families businesses, do the same jobs they did and uphold their parents "civic duties" until they wake up.  Jean doesn't trust Magnus and his explanations for what has happened, especially when it seems like Magnus is trying to hold a special vote on a resolution to start a thistleberry plant in town.  So, Jean investigates on her own and finds a note in the lab coat of Dr. Fields, a prominent biochemist from town.  Suddenly, Jean might have a motive but she still needs to figure out a cure that can raise all of the parents from their slumber.  

One of the things that I so enjoy about Dairman's books is her descriptions of food.  All Four Stars is one of my favorite books.  The main character, Gladys Gatsby's desire was to become a food critic and so she traveled around New York sampling some of the most delicious sounding cuisines and oh what a variety of foods she chose.  Dairman's food descriptions always make me hungry, just look at this one from The Great Hibernation, 

"In the kitchen, the aroma of the roast mingled with scents of honey baked root vegetables, garlicky mustard greens, buckwheat biscuits, and the condiment that graced every table in St. Polonius, sweet thistleberry relish." 

 I also love how Dairman's books are so wonderfully diverse not only with the foods she includes but also with her characters like Isra, a Thai boy who is put in charge of making all the meals for the children at his families Thai restaurant.  Isra is very focused on making his parents proud and having the business flourish.  He also illustrates the challenges of coming to a new country and being accepted into the community.  And Isra also cooks these mouthwatering sounding Thai foods, mmm.  There's even a recipe for Rice Paper Rolls with Pork at the beginning of one of the chapters.   Just love it.   The Great Hibernation is also an exploration of traditions, a right of passage that only happens when you get to a certain age with a particularly amusing result.  In this case, all the teens and their parents fall fast asleep and the younger children take charge performing their parent's job responsibilities.  Jean's best friend takes over her mother's beauty parlor cutting hair and one little girl is put in charge as the court-appointed lawyer and I just love when she suggests her client take a "please" bargain, so cute.   Even eight-year-old Alex, who drives his dad's snowplow made me chuckle as I was trying to picture his little feet trying to reach the peddles to make it run.  Then there's Magnus, who took his role as the son of the mayor overly serious and although he says he's following the charter as it's written, he also bends the rules the way that he wants.  He's pretty bossy and his sidekick police enforcers aren't any better pushing around the younger kids and locking up others to hide what's going on.   I was just waiting for them to get what was coming to them.  The Great Hibernation is part mystery, part exploration of the advancement of science and how building a thistleberry plant would impact everyone in town, glorious food, and Jean who with the help of her friends set's out to save their parents.    

*The Great Hibernation  has been nominated for the Cybils award and my review reflects my personal opinion, not the opinion of the Cybils committee.*


  1. I've seen this around. It sounds like a great story with an intriguing mystery. And Thai food! Yum!

  2. This sounds very unique. I am definitely curious about it. I still have her first series on my list of books to read. I am catching up slowly, but surely. :)