For the past two days, all anybody here in New England could talk about was snow. We’ve been battling Juno, the big bad blizzard. After the first day, we had about 16″ here in my town. With nowhere else to be, I’ve been happily snuggled inside my house with a pile of books.
After meeting Tamra Wight at the Nerdy Author Night (see my “Paper Things” post), I decided to spend my first snow day reading “Mystery on Pine Lake”. Tamra now has two Cooper and Packrat books, and the second, “Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest”, is on my TBR list. I really enjoyed talking with Tamra at the author event, and I’m an even bigger fan of hers since I found out she’s into geocaching! That totally makes sense since she seems to be a nature enthusiast. Speaking of which, her nature photography is beautiful. Just check out this post from her website. Stunning, right?
“Mystery at Pine Lake” was the perfect read for a blustery winter day. I was immediately transported from my snowy surroundings to the beautiful campground on Pine Lake. It brought back a flood of fun memories from my camping adventure of last summer. The setting of the book, as well as some of the people, are actually taken from Tamra’s real life experiences from her days at Poland Spring Campground. (I think I’ll have to add that to my summer bucket list!) As I read, I kept craving s’mores. Though the cupboard turned up no signs of chocolate or marshmallows, I did find a suitable alternative!
If you enjoy books about nature, and loons in particular, you should also check out “Half a Chance” by Cynthia Lord. Actually, Tamra and Cynthia are pretty close friends! It makes perfect sense since they’re both fantastic writers and have an interest in wildlife. I have a feeling Packrat, Cooper, and Lucy would be friends if their book worlds ever overlapped!
Title: “Mystery at Pine Lake”
Author: Tamra Wight
Text-to-Text Connection: “Half a Chance” by Cynthia Lord
My recommended age range: 4th-8th grade (or read aloud for younger ages)
Cooper spends his days at Pine Lake cleaning bathrooms, picking up trash, and doing other chores to help his family maintain the campground at Pine Lake. One of Cooper’s favorite jobs, however, is acting as game warden and keeping an eye on the loons. Because his parents are so busy with the campground, Cooper usually tends to his duties alone. That is until Packrat comes along with his unusual trench coat, pockets stuffed with anything he could ever need. Cooper and Packrat become fast friends, and even the bathroom cleaning duty starts to become fun.
When out on a loon patrol, Cooper and Packrat discover that a board has been jammed into the dam, causing the lake’s water level to rise. Now, the loon’s nest is flooding and the eggs are in danger. The boys quickly devise a plan to help the loons, and start the investigation into who might have sabotaged the nest. Along the way, they make unlikely allies and become heroes in an unexpected way. Cooper and Packrat make quite the team!
Although this book was written for middle schoolers, I think it’s very accessible to readers as young as fourth grade. The adventures of Cooper and Packrat would make for a great read aloud to kids of almost all ages. I loved that each chapter started with an interesting fact about loons, which somehow related to the events in each chapter. Tamra did a great job of blending themes of ecology and preservation into this mystery-adventure story. I’m very much looking forward to reading “Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest”!