"Like most Orca Young Readers books, this is a novel with interesting characters and a fast moving plot that should catch the interest of its readers...Characters grow as the plot unfolds [and] they learn to work together."
"Readers may find themselves with their hearts in their throats as time begins to run out for the loon...The cast of eccentric but lovable characters...builds the suspense...This excellent book combines great characters with a well-written, suspenseful plot that will keep readers turning pages as fast as they can read them."
Canadian Children's Book News
"Refreshingly modern. Upjohn has created a multi-dimensional 11-year old character...[and] because he is so easy to relate to, the reader absorbs knowledge right along with Evan."
"The short chapters and accessible vocabulary will make this novel a good choice for readers who have made the transition to chapter books. The writer explores themes of: relationships, environmental responsibility, loon and wolf biology, animal rights, biodiversity, renewable energy sources, sustainability and the ecology of Canada's North.
"This exciting novel keeps the reader questioning to the finish. Information abounds about the loons, wolves, and turtles all found in the lake regions in Ontario and other parts of Canada. Though the story moves at a fast pace, the characters are sensitively developed…This novel would complement Canadian studies and should promote interesting discussion on wildlife survival."
Library Media Connection
"Evan learns important lessons about nature, environmentally sustainable living, and the danger of making rash judgments about people."
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Eleven-year-old Evan has a lot to learn about the Canadian wilderness as well as about his odd Aunt Meg with whom he finds himself spending the Christmas holidays. His undisciplined behavior precluded going with his mom to visit his sick grandmother, and his father is working in the diamond mines. A city child, Evan knows or cares little about the animals and backcountry that are the core of his aunt's life and work. She has even spent a few days in jail for assaulting a poacher and Evan thinks of her as an ex-con. As lowering temperatures cause the lakes to freeze, Meg and her neighbors become concerned with the fate of a loon that has not left on its winter migration. Staying on the frozen lake means sure death. In spite of himself, Evan becomes increasingly involved and his first attempt to rescue the bird causes him to nearly fall through the ice. Learning responsibility and preparedness, he eventually saves the stranded creature and earns the respect of his aunt. Along the way, he plays some excellent hockey, drives a snowmobile, makes new friends, and even learns some lessons about feminism. The basic "boy learns to love nature" adventure story is handicapped by some preachy tutorials about global warming, solar power, endangered species, poaching, and other wildlife concerns, although the author sees no harm in an 11-year-old flying through the wilderness on a snowmobile. A marginal purchase for collections needing materials featuring young male characters.—Eva Elisabeth VonAncken, formerly at Trinity-Pawling School, Pawling, NY
Eleven-year-old Evan is doomed to spend Christmas with an aunt he hardly knows. An aunt who has been to jail and who lives in the middle of nowhere! Quickly learning that Aunt Mag's quirkiness comes from a strong devotion to the environment, Evan admires her straw-bale home and off-the-grid living, but he has trouble understanding why Aunt Mag and everyone in her circle are so concerned about a loon in the lake behind the house. When Evan comes around, appreciating the fact that the loon, trapped by encroaching ice, will die if not rescued, he becomes the bird's most ardent advocate. He will need courage and smarts to save it. The Canadian wilderness is portrayed here as an antidote to the city life Evan leaves behind; it is the kind of place where each person does his or her share of the work and relishes the simple joys of companionship and the beauty of the natural world. A beginning chapter book with a good story and a clear environmental agenda. (Fiction. 8-11)
Read an Excerpt
The ice near where I was walking groaned. I froze to the spot and looked down. Crack. My foot went through. I jumped back. Water splashed up from a foot-sized hole where I'd been standing. I backed away. Another piece of ice disappeared. Black water grabbed at my feet. I kept stepping backward. Each time, the ice held just long enough for me to take another step, and then it sank.
I looked over my shoulder at the shore in panic... Crack. What was I going to do?