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Marven of the Great North Woods


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About the Author

KATHRYN LASKY has written several picture books, photo-essays, and novels for young readers. Her honors include the prestigious National Jewish Book Award. Ms. Lasky lives in Cambridge, Massachusets. KEVIN HAWKES has illustrated many popular picture books. He lives on an island off the coast of Maine.


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.)

Gr 1-3‘Children often enjoy reading about a young person who can competently handle a great adventure without parental supervision, and this boy does just that. Marven, 10, is sent to a remote lumber camp to escape a 1918 influenza epidemic in his hometown of Duluth, MN. He takes the train by himself and skis the five miles from the station to the camp. He is assigned to keep the books for the lumber camp and quickly devises an effective system. Although he longs to be reunited with his close-knit family, he makes friends with the French-speaking lumberjacks and finds a way to adapt his Jewish dietary laws to the camp food. The story becomes even more enjoyable when readers learn that it is based on an actual event. A concluding note includes photographs of Marven and relates that the man, now in his 90s, still has a good head for math. Hawkes's acrylic paintings are especially effective in showing the small boy against the vast Minnesota landscape and in comparison to the brawny lumberjacks. A satisfying story of courage and adaptability that has great read-aloud potential.‘Adele Greenlee, Bethel College, St. Paul, MN

A satisfying story of courage and adaptability.--School Library Journal
Hawkes's illustrations are as moving and effective as the story. . . . This book is a happy adventure that brims with rugged excitement.--Kirkus Reviews
A spirited and affecting tale.--San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

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