CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 38 . . . . June 3, 2011
Zach & Zoe and the River Rescue is the third book in the "Zach & Zoe" series. Once again, award-winning author Kristin Butcher involves the inquisitive twins in an engaging and exciting adventure. While camping with their parents in a British Columbia forest, they hear that a five-year-old girl, Becky, has wandered off. While their father joins the search, the twins anxiously wait for his return so they can go fishing. Heading toward the washroom, they suddenly spot a flash of pink across the river. Looking through Zach’s binoculars, they spot a bear not far from the girl and realize that they don’t have time to get back to their campsite and get help. With backpacks and supplies ready for the fishing expedition, they decide to rescue the little girl on their own.
For younger readers not familiar with the challenges of a dense forest, the author uses the twins’ camping knowledge to highlight the problems and dangers, such as thick undergrowth, getting lost, bears and mosquitoes. The clear descriptions of each challenge, together with the ongoing dialogue between Zach and Zoe, involve the reader in the rescue attempt each step of the way. The fear of not finding the little girl in time, of being attacked by the bear, of the impending storm and even being lost themselves, all add excitement and momentum to the plot and pace of the story.
Zach & Zoe and the River Rescue will appeal to all readers within the target age group. The readability of the text, which includes realistic dialogue, together with the energy of the adventure, itself, will motivate even a reluctant reader to engage in the book’s 12 chapters. The realistic portrayal of five-year-old Becky and how the twins handle her with such patience and kindness reveals how cleverly the author depicts her characters to build the connection between them and the reader. The real-life camping situation, although it might be a bit of a stretch to imagine two 10-year-olds coping with the various problems, will definitely grab the audience's attention. Young readers looking for an action packed adventure story will certainly enjoy Zach & Zoe and the River Rescue.
Janice Foster is a retired teacher and teacher-librarian from Winnipeg, MB.
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