cover image Marven of the Great North Woods

Marven of the Great North Woods

Kathryn Lasky. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200104-9

During the 1918 winter flu epidemic in Duluth, Minn., 10-year-old Marven is dispatched from home to a north country logging camp where he will be safe. Five hours after leaving his family on the train platform, the boy steps into a vast, white landscape and points his skis toward the great forest--where he soon meets French Canadian lumberjacks who nearly match the size of the trees. After settling into his own room (complete with woodstove and ""a bed with a bearskin on it"") and into his bookkeeping duties, Marven develops a friendship with the brawniest jack in camp, Jean Louis. Thanks to Lasky's (The Night Journey) considerable command of language and narrative detail, readers will linger over descriptions of Marven's solo journey, his humorous attempts at French, his delight at the jacks' masculine quarters and their robust dancing, his first meeting with Jean Louis and their tender farewell. Hawkes's (The Librarian Who Measured the Earth) warm, glowing, acrylic illustrations skillfully capture Marven's changing emotions and the distinct contrast between the mood of the boy's home and the lumber camp. Based on the true experience of Lasky's father, this is a story of courage inspired by familial affection and the unexpected kindness of strangers. Ages 6-10. (Oct.)