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A non-series mystery with an intriguing premise, Tracks has a determined protagonist and a fish-out-of-water sidekick solving a mystery at their own peril. Erin worries when her teen-aged babysitter fails to show up; although the grownups have a plausible explanation, Erin has a gut feeling that something is wrong. Under the cover of a science project in the woods, she decides to look for Amy herself, but she's saddled with a partner: Tiffany, a city girl who seems woefully unprepared for a wilderness adventure. Bledsoe places her characters in considerable peril-exposure, hypothermia, a possible cougar attack-but also grants them enough smarts to cope with the dangers. It's great to see a wilderness story with girls at the helm.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6A straightforward tale of wilderness survival. Erin Flaherty, 10, and her science partner, Tiffany, set off into the snowy forest near their California mountain town, purportedly to find animal tracks for a school project. Erin is troubled by the disappearance of her 16-year-old babysitter, Amy, and believes that she may have hidden in a remote miner's cabin rather than face a move to Arizona. When the girls see boot tracks in the snow, Erin reluctantly confesses to Tiffany that her real agenda is locating Amy; to her surprise, Tiffany agrees to help. As a blizzard gathers, common sense dictates returning home, but their reckless determination leads them onward. A sprained ankle forces them to spend the night in the woods. The next morning, their plight worsens as they discover they are lost, matchless, hungry, and threatened by hypothermia and predators. The girls must rely solely on their wits to survive. Tiffany grows more confident in the face of adversity and discovers her essential self; she decides to reclaim her real Vietnamese name, Hoa Tran. Amy is finally found, nearly dead from exposure. Although they have all been through a difficult ordeal, Erin can see clearly the contrast between her and Hoa's strengthborne of elemental survivaland Amy's sad, frightened condition. The ending is abrupt, affording no encounter between the lost girls and their parents, but the simplicity and intensity of this adventure will satisfy many children, particularly those who like Gary Paulsen's Hatchet (S & S, 1987).Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT