When I was a child growing up in Muskoka, I had the best time of my life. This book can still transport me back to that time and that place.
Meet the Author
According to the information on the dust jacket of this book, “Joyce Boyle was born in Toronto where she has spent nearly all her life. She is a distinguished graduate of the University of Toronto and for some time has been on the teaching staff of Forest Hill Village School.
“She has written three books for pre-school and kindergarten children as well as Muskoka Holiday, and The Stone Cottage Mystery which…is for somewhat older children.”
“When twelve-year-old Gail Proctor found herself stranded in a strange town one afternoon in July, she had no idea how she could get back to the summer cottage where her mother and father awaited her return on the little steamer Mildred. Only the memory of her father’s wise advice to ‘keep cool and think’ if faced with an emergency helped her to remain steady and clear-headed in spite of her panicky feelings.”
That is the start of an adventure in the Muskoka summerland, and of the growth of a friendship that brought to Gail happiness, self-confidence, and the opportunity to demonstrate to herself that she possed the ability to act with coolness and courage in a crisis.
I was about twelve when I read this book, and because the opening scenes were set in the town of Port Carling, which is situated across Lake Rosseau from Windermere, where I lived for four years, I could relate to the whole story, even though it was gender-specific to girls.
In this chapter, Gail relates a very close call with nature.
“Gail went on to tell about the rest of the trip, about the cove in which they landed, about the friend whom the Barrs visited.
“‘She was a very understanding person,’ said Gail. ‘She took us to the loveliest place in the woods where the trees made a sort of playhouse for the children. We had a wonderful morning. I kept Janet in sight all the time, of course. You know how she loves to run away and hide. I was so busy watching her, it was some time before I realized that I hadn’t seen Lou for several minutes. I called her name, and she answered from farther back in the woods. She didn’t seem to want to come to us, so I took Janet’s hand and together we went to find her.
“‘There she was, sitting under a tree. She had something in her arms and she was petting it and half singing to it. Do you remember how gentle she is with animals? She never squeezes them too tight nor pulls at them the way so many children do. I wasn’t really afraid she would be hurt by the strange cat she was holding until I got a good look at it. Then I nearly fainted. It wasn’t a cat, it was a skunk! A real live skunk!‘”
I can so relate to that, having done much the same when I was an eight-year-old living in Hillside, just north of Huntsville (near Algonquin Park). As a city kid, I didn’t know that a baby skunk wasn’t a kitten. Fortunately, I only got sprayed on my hand when I petted it. Needless to say, I wasn’t the most popular person at church later that same day.
“Her descriptions of the caves, coves, secret lakes and glens discovered by the youngsters will delight her young readers…the story moves smoothly and excitedly and when one closes the book it is with the feeling that one would greatly enjoy further acquaintance with the two charming young ladies.” Victoria Daily Colonist
“The author obviously understands young girls and has a flair for natural dialogue…” Hamilton Spectator
I rated this book with five stars on Goodreads, and would definitely recommend it as summer reading for your pre-teens. They will get lost in the woods for a while, but will come through the adventure, older and wiser.
Picture credits: Muskoka Holiday cover and illustration by Marion C. Paton
Skunk courtesy of Wikipedia