Marven of the Great North Woods by Kathryn Lasky. il Kevin Hawkes.
Harcourt Brace & Company: NY, 1997.

This story is based on the story of the author's father during the winter of 1918. It was the year of the terrible influenza outbreak. After Marven's great-aunt succumbed to the disease, his parents wanted to make sure one of their children was safely away. Since he was the only boy, he was given an opportunity by a friend of the family to work in a logging camp through the winter. It was his first time to be away, and the men in the camp mostly spoke French. His job was to tally the work the men were accomplishing. It was a chance to explore the woods on skis and enjoy a different culture.

This is a wonderful story, rich in historical ambience. It is far removed from my experience, and yet I enjoy reading about it, because it is a clue to my family history. My great-grandfather worked in logging camps and also played a fiddle. I was too young to remember his stories, but stories like this bring him close. Living in Maine, I also enjoy the experience of skiing through the woods and wonder what it was like to ski as a form of transportation long ago.

The illustrations are more in keeping with historical content, but still fairly bright. Hawkes is excellent at spotlighting special moments in the stories he illustrates. The pictures are not his most memorable work, but fit with the story and are enjoyable.

related-lumber camps, loggers, influenza, Jews, Minnesota
RL=2nd-3rd, read aloud to K-1st

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