FICTION

The Tale of Rescue

illus. by Stan Fellows. 112p. ebook available. Candlewick. 2015. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780763671679.
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Gr 4–7—A Florida family of three—mother, father, and 10-year-old son—go on vacation to introduce the boy to a true Appalachian winter. An early morning hike through the snowy landscape turns dangerous as a sudden blizzard descends. Now trapped in a whiteout with almost no visibility, the snow too deep to walk through, the wind beating them back, they realize that their only chance is for the father's piercing whistle to be heard. Meanwhile, at a nearby farm, an Australian cattle dog hears the whistle and races toward it. Finding the family covered with ice in the freezing rain, she returns to the farm, rounds up her herd of cows, and guides them on a trek to clear a path to the stranded family. Beautifully lyrical language ("The snow spackled the evergreens' boughs…. The ground glistened like finely grated diamonds."), narrative tension, and accurate portrayal of animal behavior mark this gem of a novella. Avoiding anthropomorphism, Rosen has created a canine hero who uses her instincts and skill to save the day. An epilogue has the boy revisiting the farm years later for a sense of closure. Exquisite full-page watercolor illustrations throughout combine with an omniscient narrative voice for an appealing package.
VERDICT An excellent selection for fans of survival literature and realistic animal adventure.

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