Escape Under the Forever Sky By Eve Yohalem 215 pages @ SPL: YA PB Yohal
Three gigantic lions, one male and two lionesses, surrounded her. Lucy couldn’t move. She could barely breathe. Mesmerized, she watched the lions’ rib cages expand and contract with each heavy breath. “I’m going to die”, she thought. But she did not die. The lions suddenly twisted to face Lucy’s kidnappers.
They growled menacingly, bared their teeth and began to advance. Markos knew that they had less than 10 seconds to act. He and the other kidnappers fled into the bush, leaving Lucy with the lions. And mysteriously, the lions did not harm Lucy. Instead, they protected her.
Thirteen-year-old Lucy Hoffmann, daughter of the American ambassador to Ethiopia, had always loved animals. Cooped up in the walls of the embassy compound, she longed to visit the exotic wilderness of the African bush more frequently than her rare excursions to the nearest game park. Then Lucy was kidnapped and held for ransom. Taken to an isolated hut far from Addis Ababa, Lucy believed that she would be killed even if the kidnappers’ demands were met.
A few days later, she managed to escape, knowing that her chances of finding her way to safety, while evading her kidnappers and surviving the long trek, were slim. Yet Lucy, with her resourcefulness, her courage and the mysterious protection given to her by the lions, survived hunger, thirst and constant danger.
Eventually finding her way to a small village, she was hidden from the pursuing kidnappers by friendly villagers, and later taken to a larger town. From there, she was able to make phone contact with authorities. Eve Yohalem’s debut novel is a well-written, riveting tale that contrasts the beauty of the African bush and its wildlife with the realities of a poor and unstable country. Lucy is a very believable (and likeable) heroine, and her story is based on a real-life event.
** Recommended for ages 10 to 14 years.
Timber Wolf By Caroline Pignat 208 pages @ SPL: YA PB Pigna
Another survival/adventure story, Timber Wolf, is set in the forests of northern Ontario, close to the upper reaches of the Ottawa River. The year: 1847. Twelve-year-old Jack Byrne awoke with no memory of how he came to be lying on the ground, injured, bruised and cold. He had no idea of where he was – or even who he was.
Looking around him, he could see only trees and snow. More snow appeared to be on the way, and Jack could hear the frightening howl of a wolf somewhere among the trees. Jack’s immediate concern was to find food and shelter. Pushing himself to hobble through the trees, he found a trap.
He ate the rabbit caught in the trap and was confronted by a young Algonquin trapper, Mahingan. Later, Jack was cared for by the boy and his grandfather, from whom he learned many wilderness survival techniques. In a similar fashion to Lucy (Escape Under the Forever Sky) Jack was also helped in the forest by a wild animal – in this case, a young timber wolf.
As his injuries healed, Jack had flashbacks which eventually overcame his amnesia. He remembered who he was and how he had came to the forest. Overcoming adversity after adversity, he eventually reached home and was reunited with family.
Resourceful and brave, Jack is a young protagonist whom boys can admire. Timber Wolf is told from Jack’s point of view, and his story will keep readers too enthralled to realize that they are learning about Ontario’s pioneer logging industry and the Algonquin way of life at that time. This page-turning story can be read alone or as the third book in the Byrne Family series. (The other titles, Greener Grass and Wild Geese, feature Jack’s sister, Kit.)
** Recommended for ages 10 to 13 years.
– Sally Hengeveld, librarian