________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 14 . . . . December 4, 2009


The Last Wild Place.

Rosa Jordan.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2009.
195 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-55455-146-0.

Subject Heading:
Panthers-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Kristin Butcher.

**½ /4


Chip could tell it was nearing sunset because the clearing had been in shadow for a while. Overhead, a few clouds were changing from white to pink. He was admiring the way the rose-colored clouds were reflected in the water when he heard Luther suck wind. Chip quickly scanned the area but didn't see any movement. Then he spotted one of the [panther] kittens on its belly, creeping through the grass. It was sneaking up on the other kitten—which Chip didn't see until the first one landed on the second one's back—and the two of them shot into the air like balls of fuzz. Then they tumbled back into the grass and went rolling end over end. By the time the two kittens had wrestled each other into the trees, Luther's camera had clicked a dozen times—one picture right after the other, each one with a flash. Then the kittens were gone.

... As they made their way back through the dark woods, Luther kept up a constant chatter. He couldn't wait to get the film developed. Chip, on the other hand, hardly said a word. He was glad about the pictures, but he wanted more than pictures. He wanted the actual kittens to stay right there so someday he and they might get to be friends. But the only way that could happen was by stopping the developers from destroying this last, secret wild place.


The Last Wild Place is Rosa Jordan's third visit to the Martin family household. The first novel, Lost Goat Lane, focussed on Kate, then 13 and struggling to figure out who she was and how she fit into her family and the world. The second book was The Goatnappers and featured Justin, a high school freshman, only the second in the school's history to make the senior baseball team. It was an honour that carried a whole lot of pressure, and Justin soon found himself with more on his plate than just baseball.

     The Last Wild Place is book three, and considering it chronicles the activities of the remaining Martin sibling, Chip, one can assume it will be the final installment in the series.

     Three years have passed since Justin's baseball trials, and Chip—who was seven during the first book—is now finishing grade six. Kate is in high school, and Justin is away at college in Atlanta. Life is moving on for everyone in the Martin family. The farm is paid for, and the children's mother not only has a secure job but a serious boyfriend as well—Booker Wilson, who is the baseball coach at Justin's college and uncle to Chip's best friend, Luther.

     The Last Wild Place is constructed around the theme of displacement. Luther is concerned about leaving his grandparents' farm when his mother marries and moves into town. A group of young people at Chip's school have been temporarily relocated after losing their homes to a hurricane. The wild animals on a long-abandoned tract of overgrown land near Chip's home are in danger of being killed or chased away from the area by a developer.

     The novel examines the circumstances leading up to these events and the potential consequences, as well as the efforts of Chip and the others in the story to alter the negative outcomes.

     Jordan has done her homework, and the storyline involving the panthers is especially interesting. It is refreshing to see children taking initiative to solve problems and making a difference to the world.


Kristin Butcher lives in Campbell River, BC, and writes for young people.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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