________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 24 . . . . February 27, 2015


Lost in the Backyard.

Alison Hughes.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2015.
136 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0794-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0795-2 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0796-9 (epub).

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.

Review by Laura Dick.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


I looked around at the bleak, silent, hostile forest. Whatever, I thought. I tried. We can't all be nature freaks.

I turned to go back down the path. Back to people, a house, a fire. Back inside, where people belonged.

And that's when, in a split second, everything changed.

I heard a sudden rustle and snapping branches very, very close to me. I whirled around.

Something huge and brown crashed through the bushes on my right and charged out of the forest, landing on the path right in front of me in a blur of brown hide and animal smell. It happened so fast, and it was so loud and so sudden, that I don't even know what it was. Moose? Deer? Something that ate meat? Anyway, some wild animal was within a few feet of me.

I turned and ran. Okay, full disclosure: I gave a muffled shriek, flailed my arms, stumbled into a tree, fell, cracked my knee and leaped back to my feet. And then I ran.


Flynn is not an outdoors kind of kid. He suffers through Outdoor Ed classes at school three times a week, he can't understand why his sister wants to go to Girl Guide camp never mind why their parents would even consider letting her go to camp at the end of October when snow is forecasted and he freaks out at the sight of blood. He is clearly most comfortable with a calm and orderly indoors only existence. Too bad for Flynn that a visit to old neighbours who have moved to the country turns into an tale of survival in the woods Flynn's own version of the famous My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George story.

     Flynn wanders away from his family during an afternoon visit to their friendsí new country property. A short walk along a winding path through the trees turns into a three day ordeal. Flynn encounters coyotes and bears, cold days and even colder nights, hunger and thirst, eventually surprising himself with his capacity to cope with the unexpected. Turns out he may have been paying attention during Outdoor Ed class after all.

     Hughes writes Flynn's story in the first person, allowing the reader to feel and experience all of Flynn's emotions and struggles. The tone and self deprecating humour allow the reader to easily connect with Flynn and to root for him despite his clear dislike of the circumstances he finds himself in. Short sentences, paragraphs and chapters propel this adventure story forward quickly it's a race to the finish of the book to find out how Flynn survives his days in the woods.

     Highly recommended for those who love adventure and the outdoors, Lost in the Backyard will also appeal to readers who just want a quick exciting read.


Laura Dick is trying to raise four teenagers while attempting to maintain her sanity. She escapes to work as a branch manager at a mid sized public library in Southwestern Ontario.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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