Monday, March 9, 2009

Nonfiction Monday: Swift by Robert Blake

A boy sets out with his father on his first hunting trip. Swift, their dog, accompanies them on their search for a bear. But bears can be dangerous - when disaster strikes, Johnnie must trust Swift to get him to help for his father.

This story is at first disconcerting - the characters appear to be contemporary, but the wilderness setting and the bear hunt for obviously needed food doesn't match. However, the author's afterword explains that this story is about homesteading families in Alaska. It's a fascinating little glimpse of the life of modern pioneers, which I hadn't heard of before.

The story is well-written with realistic reactions of the dog and people. The action moves swiftly and is shown not only in the taut style but also in vibrant paintings that accompany the text.

Verdict: This picture book is more suitable for older children, due to the length of the text and sometimes frightening story. Fans of heroic dog and adventure stories will be interested in this authentic look at the lives Alaskan homesteaders.

ISBN: 0399233830; Published September 2007 by Philomel; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library (not by me)

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