cover image Shadows on the Pond

Shadows on the Pond

Alison Cragin Herzig. Little Brown and Company, $12.95 (244pp) ISBN 978-0-316-35895-8

Having collaborated on award-winning nonfiction (Oh, Boy! Babies!) and novels, Herzig went solo to write this unusual thriller. Jill, 14, is with her mother in their Vermont summer cabin while her father remains with the girl's sister in New York. To escape worries over the separation, Jill sticks close to her life-long friend Migan, also 14. The girls court danger, destroying the traps set by cruel Jim McCullough around a beaver pond, a sanctuary deep in the woods. A broken arm immobilizes Migan but Ryan, a boy Jill has seen at her school in the city, arrives (conveniently) to ally himself with her on the beavers' side. The story's climax is an explosion caused by a drunk, not the feared trapper, and the result is tragic. Contrivances and digressions notwithstanding, the novel stands out as a drama and a timely treatment of major environmental issues. Junior Literary Guild selection. (12up)