cover image Moose Tracks

Moose Tracks

Mary Casanova, Kam Mak. Hyperion Books, $14.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0042-1

Squeamish readers may have trouble getting past this debut novel's first chapter, which describes in gruesome detail the hero's shooting of a rabbit and then his severing of its foot. When 12-year-old Seth later witnesses two men poaching a cow moose, he is warned by the law-breakers to say nothing to his game-warden stepfather. Though the boy thinks he wants the grown-up thrill of hunting, the rabbit and moose episodes lead him to question his desire. In fact Seth is unusually sensitive to animals-he is gentle with his horse and his cat-and vows to save the poached moose's injured orphan calf. The boy's attempts to rescue the animal and stop the poachers are paralleled by his concerns about the baby his mother is about to have and questions about his biological father, whom he's never met. Casanova earnestly conveys the ugliness of killing animals for financial gain, but significant portions of the novel (including a melodramatic ending) resemble TV adventures, and the themes of sibling anxiety and approaching teen years are approached in merely routine fashion. Ages 9-12. (May)