Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 208 pages
Publishing: April 27th, 2021
Source: Netgalley via BlueSlip media and publisher
Opening Lines: "I hear it again. Urgent chattering reaches us from the mound of sticks and mud just off the bow of our boat."
Madi, Jack and Aaron live in Willow Grove and are avid environmentalists. Jack wants to become a game warden, Aaron has a wealth of facts about animals, and Madi wants to follow in her Nana's footsteps and be a wildlife rehabilitator. One day while out exploring on the lake, they come across two dead beavers floating along the river. Concerned that there may be starving orphaned kits nearby the trio attempt a daring rescue into the beavers underwater lodge. Inside Madi finds two small kits, which she names Phrag and Cooler. At first Madi tries to get the local vet to take in the kits, but once she realizes that she's the only one that they have left, she reluctantly takes them to her house. Madi is used to caring for inured animals, her Nana taught her everything she knows, having also passed on her notes about rehabilitation before she died. The only problem is that her parents have forbidden her from bringing home one more rescue animal, if they find out she has the kits she'll risk loosing out on her parents taking to meet her idol, Jane Goodall. Yet, there doesn't seem to be anyone else to take them in. So, Madi hides them away in her clubhouse, hoping her sister and parents won't notice. After the kits are fed and given a safe place to sleep for the night, Madi and her friends set out to investigate the circumstances surrounding the adult beavers death. Madi and her friends soon learn that the beavers dam created problems around town, flooding the roads and fields of a nearby farm. Someone has even been killing the beavers in an attempt to mitigate their damage. Hoping to get support from the townspeople, Madi tries to talk to the town hall, but no one seems to want to listen, the landowners seem to only want the animals eliminated. Can Madi and her friends find the person responsible for killing the kits parents and get the town to help the beavers find a better place to put their dams?
Terry Lynn Johnson's books are always a treat to read. So informative, exciting and packed with lovely details about animals, in this case beavers. Taking care of a kit sounds like a daunting task. While they may be cute, they sure seem to be able to make a mess. I appreciate that Johnson included a Do's and Don'ts with wild animals. Montana has a wild wings recreational center and I really appreciate that places like this exist to rehabilitate and release animals back into the wild. The story really makes you think about the fragility of the environment and indirectly about being a good environmental steward. How it was important to have a balance between the beavers making their dam and minimizing their plugging up drain outlets and culverts. Madi is quite an ingenious problem solver, when her first solution doesn't work she tries another. Never one to give up. She deeply cares for animals and wants nothing more than to follow in her Nana's footsteps, I respect her dedication to animal rescue. I love how the story wove together facts about beavers, their familial traits, and how Johnson explains the risks of taking care of a wild animal, how it's important they be fed the right food, the right amount across the right space of time. This is truly a valuable story that highlights the importance of appreciating one's environment while also keeping it safe and clean. A must read for kids interested in animal rescuers, outdoor adventures or the environment.
**Thank you to BlueSlip media for the E-ARC access via Netgalley and the hard cover copy**