Rescue at Lake Wild
Rescue at Lake Wild
I’m pretty sure I know how to get into a beaver lodge. But I didn’t expect it to be quite so … dark.
The idea of leeches didn’t sound that bad when I was sitting in the boat. Now, I feel things brushing against me. I slap madly at a leaf sticking to my left thigh. My heart pounds. I’m going to need to breathe soon.
Just as I’m about to go up for another gulp of air, I feel an opening chewed into the wall of logs. I pull myself into the center – it’s narrow and stabby. The skin on my shoulders scrapes raw as if I’m being attacked by a giant metal rake.
I pull myself faster. My lungs are near bursting. How much farther?
Is this even the right tunnel?
Am I going to die down here?
My shoulders wedge. And then my head pops out of the water. My own gasping sounds loud in my ears. It echoes off the walls of … wherever I’ve come up.
Inside all those branches and sticks is blackness.
The air feels muggy damp. But the biggest thing I notice is the smell. It’s fetid and musky like my nana’s root cellar. I imagine it’s how a bathroom packed with wet weasels would smell.
Madison, 12, and her friends, Aaron and Jack, live in a tiny community near two small lakes with creeks, trees and beavers. The community has been having trouble with beavers building dams and flooding roadways, and now two adult beavers have been shot and killed. Madi is sure there are young beavers in the beaver lodge, and she sets out to rescue them. The problem is her parents have warned her about bringing any more wildlife home. Madi feels it is her duty to save the beaver kits. Her deceased grandmother was a well-known, local animal rehabber – rehabilitator – and Madi is following in her steps.
Madi rescues two beaver kits and then another one, giving her three kits to look after. She hides them in her clubhouse on her family’s property and now has the responsibility to feed the kits and keep them out of trouble. She also needs to make sure the kits stay hidden until she can figure out what to do with them. In the meantime, Madi and her friends are also trying to find out who killed the adult beavers.
Rescue at Lake Wild is a story about a young girl’s determination to rescue and take care of animals. In order to rescue two of the beaver kits, Madi swims down to find the entrance of the beaver lodge in murky, putrid and leech-infested waters. I had trouble believing parts of this story, beginning with Madi’s risky and foolish attempt to get into the beaver lodge from underwater. I am concerned that young readers will decide to try this, and there are too many things that could go wrong and result in a drowning. I also don’t think parents and teachers would give a young reader a book which explains exactly how to go about engaging in this risky behaviour. I wondered why the kits could not be rescued by hacking away from on top of the beaver lodge to reach them. There was no discussion in the book about attempting a rescue from above the waterline. Madi’s saying and thinking, “This is dangerous,” is not enough of a deterrent for some young readers to decide to try getting into a beaver lodge from under water. There needs to be much discussion with young readers before and during the reading of this story, especially around safety issues.
In the “Author’s Notes” at the end of the book, Johnson talks about her own carefree “feral” days living at the lake without much parental supervision when she was a youngster. I, too, understand those days, but, from a point of safety in today’s world and the current culture of safety and security first for children, this story doesn’t ring true for me. Madi and her friends had virtually no adult supervision and did whatever they wanted all day long. For most children, that isn’t realistic for a story set in today’s world. Perhaps this story would have been better set back in the 1950s through the 1970s.
On the other hand, readers of this book will learn a lot about how to care for young beaver kits as well as what to feed them and how intelligent they are. It is obvious the author has done a lot of research, something she mentions in the acknowledgments. Since this story might lead young readers to try to rescue wild animals, to their own determent, there is also information on the do’s and don’ts of rescuing animals. As well, there are interesting notes on which incidents within this story are based on actual events. The story is set somewhere near Boston as Madi’s parents go there for work. It would have been nice to situate this story in Canada – perhaps northern Ontario, where the author lives, and where the beaver, Canada’s national animal, thrives.
I found the characters somewhat one-dimensional throughout the story, and I had trouble warming up to them. It would have been good to see another side of Madi and her friends, even briefly. Although I found the story interesting and informative, I cannot get past the idea of young readers picking up this book and then trying some of the dangerous stunts portrayed within. For this reason, I rated Rescue at Lake Wild as....
Mary Harelkin Bishop is the author of the “Tunnels of Moose Jaw Adventure” series published by Coteau Books as well as many other books, including her two newest books Mistasinîy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone and Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather, published by DriverWorks Ink. Her most recent book is the newly revised, republication of Tunnels of Time (www.cmreviews.ca/node/2101). Always busy and interested in children and writing, Mary is currently undertaking writing projects with schools as well as mentoring adult writers. Mary spends her days writing, giving writers’ workshops and playing with grandchildren. You can find her on Facebook and view video clips on her YouTube channel.