Monday, November 5, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Lost Trail: Nine days alone in the wilderness by Donn Fendler with Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Ben Bishop

In 1939, Donn Fendler went hiking on Mount Katahdin and is separated from his friends and family. Nine days later, after a massive rescue effort, he staggers out of the wilderness alive.

This graphic novel brilliantly retells the true story, as recounted by Donn Fendler himself, current newspaper accounts, and the 1939 book, Lost on a mountain in Maine.

Donn and Lynn recount his terrifying adventure in simple, clear prose. He survives landslides, wild animals, bugs, raging rivers, starvation, and storms with a determination to survive, faith in God, and a little Boy Scout training. The gritty reality of a kid lost in the wilderness isn't softened, but there's no graphic violence and the story isn't terrifying but rather riveting as the reader follows one boy's determination to make it back to his parents.

Bishop's black and white art is clean and precise. He captures the fear, hallucinations, starvation and overall determination and hope as Donn struggles through his ordeal. The simple panels focus on Donn, with his surroundings lightly penciled in and occasional larger pictures of the wilderness threats he faces. There are additional notes on Donn Fendler's life and an interview with him, discussing his ordeal and how he survived.

Verdict: This is a simple story of survival, but the authors have done an excellent job of retelling the story so it's still factual but updated for a new generation and the art goes well with the text. I know quite a few boys who love factual accounts like this and I'm surprised more libraries don't own it. I will definitely be adding it to my juvenile collection and probably take it to my big booktalk at the middle school this fall. It does have several mentions of prayer and faith, but I consider that perfectly reasonable in a factual, first-person account and it will fit well with my community.

ISBN: 9780892729456; Published 2011 by Down East; Borrowed from the library via inter-library loan; Added to the library's wishlist

1 comment:

Tammy Flanders said...

I also gave this one a positive review. It was an unfamiliar story to me but captivated my interest from the start. Living in Calgary, just an hour away from the Rocky Mountains, I could see this playing out in my mind's eye very easily. Even if you're not into the outdoors, the intensity of the survival story is gripping.
Apples with Many Seeds