Before the spring of 1878, 11-year-old Annabel Lee had never even heard of a wanigan. But she and her mother are now stranded on the small floating cookshack for three months while her father and the other loggers move their timber down the river to the mills at Lake Huron.
With a constant threat of forest fires, timber pirates, and log jams, it’s a perilous journey, especially for a delicate girl who’d rather read poetry than live in the rough company of loggers. But the Au Sable river and its shores soon reveal their beauties. And by the time the wanigan nears Lake Huron, Annabel can’t imagine waking up without a brand-new surprise outside her window each morning. In a novel of rugged river adventure and evocative nature writing, Gloria Whelan brings 19th-century history—and one girl’s summer river journey—to life for young readers.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Gloria Whelan won a National Book Award in 2000 for her novel Homeless Bird. She is the author of dozens of books for young readers, including Goodbye, Vietnam; Hannah; and Next Spring an Oriole.
From the Hardcover edition.
Grade 3-6-An overview of life on a floating chuck wagon for American loggers in the 1870s. Eleven-year-old Annabel Lee initially disdains the ramshackle hut in which she and her mother live and work for three months during Michigan's logging season. But as the story progresses, the girl adapts to her living conditions and the rough manners of the lumberjacks on the river. Unfortunately, her narrative voice does not come across as that of a preadolescent, no matter how prim and prissy her character is supposed to be. She refers to the men and their habits as "inelegant," their company as "unrefined," and frequently waxes sentimental over the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, a habit that quickly becomes cloying and contrived. The lumberjacks are poorly realized stereotypes, including a boisterous French Canadian called "Frenchy" and a taciturn Native American nicknamed "Big Tom." The narration is at its best when Annabel describes the loggers' daily routines. Readers learn that they slathered their feet with layers of lard to keep them dry, and that they had many different titles: sawyer, sprinkler, swamper, skidder. These details are interesting and ring truer than Annabel's maudlin poetry recitations. Make this a supplemental purchase if first-person narratives about the pioneer spirit are popular.
Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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