CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 36 . . . . May 18, 2012
Bernadette is an inquisitive young scientist with a passion for nature conservation. Every year, Bernadette’s neighbourhood hosts an annual garage sale for charity. This year, all of the money is going towards preserving the Amazon rainforest. Because Bernadette is eager to help save the rainforest, she convinces her friends, Keisha, Annie, and Megan, to help her raise money with a face painting stand. The girls use Bernadette’s new Cocker Spaniel puppy, Pretzel, to attract customers to their stand. They successfully raise $62.43 for charity, but Bernadette is not satisfied. She wants to do more to help endangered animals, and she finds opportunities in unexpected places.With third grade coming to an end, Bernadette’s friends are all planning on going to Camp Lakeview for summer holidays. They want her to come along, but Bernadette is used to going to Museum Camp, and she is afraid she won’t like Camp Lakeview. Because she is concerned it won’t be scientific enough, Bernadette comes up with numerous excuses for not going to Camp Lakeview. She soon learns that she can incorporate science into her life wherever she goes – even Camp Lakeview.
At Camp Lakeview, the girls sign up for different activities. Bernadette is in nature studies when Counsellor Jenny notices the frogs have disappeared from the camp. Jenny creates a small aquarium to observe the growth of the pond’s tadpoles, but Bernadette becomes frustrated with Jenny’s passive approach to science. Bernadette decides to solve the frog mystery herself. She conducts a private experiment to test the pond’s water quality and closely observes the tadpoles’ natural habitat.
With science, Bernadette finally solves the frog mystery. She explains to Jenny that the tadpoles aren’t getting enough algae to grow into frogs because the overgrown trees near the pond are increasing the shade and decreasing the light needed for algae’s photosynthesis. Jenny asks the camp director to have the trees trimmed and, shortly after, the tadpoles grow into frogs, repopulating Camp Lakeview. Bernadette, her mother, and Pretzel are invited to the Tadpole Coming Home Party where they return the aquarium tadpoles to their natural habitat. Bernadette learns that she can use science wherever she goes and that it can be good to try new things.
Bernadette to the Rescue is comprised of a series of episodic events woven together by Bernadette’s desire to use science to help nature. Her character is remarkable, yet her experience of frustration and her apprehension over trying new activities are relatable to younger audiences.
While Bernadette to the Rescue is the third title in the Bernadette series by Toronto’s Susan Glickman, the story works well as an independent read. There are references to events and people introduced in the first two books, Bernadette and the Lunch Bunch and Bernadette in the Doghouse, but all references are adequately explained so that newcomers to the series can easily follow along. As presented in the first two books, black and white illustrations accompany the text.
Rachel Yaroshuk is a Master of Library and Information Studies student at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
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