As a young girl growing up on Hazel Ridge Farm, Kelly is aware of how special the place she calls home is. After all, it's not everyday that your backyard lets you view white-tailed deer and sand-hill cranes, swim in ponds populated by snapping turtles or hear the hoot of an owl named Jackson as he keeps watch as you sleep each night. Committed to maintaining a natural wilderness, Kelly's parents have created a wildlife sanctuary where both the land and its animal residents can be nurtured.Kelly of Hazel Ridge is the third title in the Hazel Ridge Farm series (Saving Samantha and Adopted by an Owl) by husband-and-wife team Gijsbert and Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen, and is inspired by their life on their 40-acre farm located in Bath, Michigan. For over 20 years, Robbyn and Gijsbert (also known as Nick) have nurtured the land back to health and raised and released injured and orphaned animals. Nick has illustrated over 20 books for Sleeping Bear Press, including The Legend of Sleeping Bear, The Legend of the Petoskey Stone (#1 Midwest bestseller), and Texas Bluebonnet runner-up Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot.
A fourth grade class assignment to "write… about someone or something that has been very important in your life" sets Kelly to musing about her life on Hazel Ridge Farm. As she wanders the pasture, the woods, the pond, and the fields, her journey becomes an appreciation of nature for readers. Handsomely detailed, rich oil paintings bring to life all that Kelly sees. High up in a tree in the dense woodland she spies an owl and the open field reveals a screech hawk. She reminisces about the hard work her parents have done over the years planting trees, digging ponds, and seeding the wild prairies to create an environment that has become the habitat for so many animals. Kelly is a child at one with nature, one who appreciates the beauty of a deer in the clearing or the grace of a great blue heron as it gracefully skims over the pond. But even a child familiar with the outdoors can become lost and frightened, and Kelly vividly remembers the day she was trapped by the brambles of thick bushes and the panic she felt until her mother rescued her. The clang of the dinner bell calls Kelly home and interrupts her reverie but once home she knows what she will write about. This is the third in the series about this farm in Michigan and it is a tribute of love by the couple who have worked long and hard to create this wildlife sanctuary. As Kelly collects items for her treasure box, kids are encouraged to make treasure boxes of their own and given samples of what to look for when on a nature walk. This is a quiet, contemplative story well suited to a classroom study of nature, and its illustrations are outstanding. Libraries that own the other two books in the series and have found them popular maywant to purchase this one.