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From the PublisherBulletin, Center for Children's Books
Tall-tale collections often beg for fresh titles. . . and errant body parts have their literary following; kids who got a giggle from DeFelice’s Cold Feet could take a peek.
A wry and absorbing initiation story set in Canada's wild north, Wallace's retelling of a famous Yukon legend doesn't shrink from straight talk about frostbite. When Josh moves to the snowy town of Dawson, his new friend Gabe tells him that a local trapper's amputated toe, lost to the cold, sits in a tobacco tin in the Sourdough Saloon. The boys spend the first part of the story figuring out how to get a look at the grisly object. They then beard the trapper himself, who tells them about the day he and his sled dogs fell through the ice ("Two o' my dogs 'n one o' my toes din't make it home"). After the pair assures the man that they're "bellies aren't soft and yellow," he invites them to the saloon. Until the last moment, it looks as if the tale might be a tall one, but the relic does indeed reside in the tobacco tin, and the boys actually see it before it's nabbed by a dog. A graphic description and accompanying drawing may catch readers off-guard here. Back at his cabin, Trapper Joe turns out to be a rewarding companion despite his gruff exterior, and the boys, their rite of passage over, can laugh about it with him. Wallace's realistic colored-pencil spreads, done on heavily textured paper, have a bleached-out quality that simultaneously conveys the crisp white light of the northern winter and dilutes the impact of the images for the soft- and yellow-bellied, that may be a good idea.
Running through a town in the Yukon Territory, Josh, his companions, and his surroundings are realistically and almost timelessly drawn in subdued color pencil. . . . A great story, so well paced even the author’s note brings the fluid text to a smooth and satisfying end.
Outrageous? Absolutely, and Wallace adds to the fun with nicely rendered, superrealistic illustrations. The highly detailed pictures can be seen well from a distance, which will make this lively read a great choice for group read alouds, including audiences of older children.