In this spry novel, Newbery Honoree Preus deftly threads together a nature adventure, history lesson, cautionary environmental tale, and an animal love story. Jean Pierre Petit Le Rouge, a curious red squirrel, annually watches singing, fur-trading “voyageurs” canoe away from Montreal and return months later with “the scent of the faraway,” which was “a smell that stirred up in me a wanderlust.” So, in May 1792, Le Rouge stows away on a canoe bound for a trading post on Lake Superior, determined to impress the voyageurs. He scampers to the top of a tree to point the way after they lose their bearings and uses his keen senses to guide the craft through fog. Despite his close bond with a kind, bookish trapper, Le Rouge announces—in a sly riff on a passage from Thoreau’s Walden—that he is “going into the woods... to live deliberately” because the voyageurs’ mission involves profiting “from the skins of my animal brethren.” Preus wraps up her entertaining and informative narrative on a heartwarming note as the loquacious, wryly contemplative squirrel finds his way—back home and in life. Evocative pictures by Pilgrim (Big and Little) augment the story’s ample heart and humor, and an author’s note contextualizes the fur trade, including its impact on indigenous people. Ages 7–10. Author’s agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/19/2019 Release date: 03/24/2020 Genre: Children's
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