CM . . .
. Volume XVIII Number 1. . . .September 2, 2011
Wildcat Run. (Orca Echoes).
Sonya Spreen Bates. Illustrated by Kasia Charko.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2011.
56 pp., pbk., $6.95.
Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.
Review by Laura Dick.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Tommy rounded the bend, his skis pointed together in a snowplow and his arms sticking straight out like a scarecrow's. His face looked like a comic-book character. His eyes bugged out, and his mouth was shaped in an O. He bumped through the dip, whirled his arms around like a windmill and fell.
Jake started up the hill toward him.
"I'm all right," said Tommy, sitting up. One of his skis has come off, and the other one stuck out sideways at an awkward angle. Jake snapped the clasp open, and Tommy struggled to his feet. His boots sank into the soft snow at the edge of the run.
"Did you see how fast I was going?" Tommy asked Jake, his eyes shining.
"Yeah, you were going fast all right," Jake said. He winked at Lexie. He thought Tommy had been going pretty slow, compared to him.
"You were racing," said Lexie.
Jake looked around for Tommy's other ski. He spotted it in the trees not far away. "There's your ski. I'll get it," he said.
Jake slid down the little slope and snowplowed to a stop. Reaching down to pick up the ski, something caught his eye. All around him the snow was smooth, untouched except for the tracks his skis had just made. But on the other side of the tree was a set of prints that sent a chill up his spine. Paw prints. And they were big. As big as Jake's hand.
Wildcat Run, by Sonya Spreen Bates, is the third in a series of books featuring Jake, Tommy and Lexie, three young friends who love to get into adventures together. This time they are on a ski trip in the mountains. Skiing on their own at the end of a long day, the kids head up the hill on the ski lift intending to take one last run on Easy Street, one of the beginner hills. Jake and Lexie are eager to tackle something bigger, but Tommy, Jake's younger brother, always slows them down. If it wasn't for Tommy, they could try one of the harder runs. On this day, however, they are alone with no parents to stop them, and so Jake and Lexie talk Tommy into going down Wildcat Run, not Easy Street. They are not far down the hill when disaster strikes, and Tommy skies off the track and loses his skis. They are stranded on the mountain with dark rapidly approaching. To make matters worse, there is a wild animal in the bushes, watching them. Is it a lost dog, or is it the cougar they have been warned about?
This "Orca Echoes" title is well-written and will definitely appeal to the intended age group. The story is believable, and suspense and tension heighten as the dark closes in on the kids on the hill. The children make some good decisions about keeping safe on the mountain when they get stuck, and, most importantly, they are active participants in their own rescue -- they don't sit helplessly waiting for rescuers to come to them. They build a shelter and figure out how to keep themselves warm. Young readers will admire Jake, Lexie and Tommy's tenacity, teamwork and adventurous spirit and look forward to reading about more of their adventures in future books by Bates.
Laura Dick is trying to raise four teenagers while attempting to maintain her sanity. She escapes to work as a librarian at a large public library in Southwestern Ontario.
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