Three-hundred-and-fifty-years ago, a Potawatomi Indian boy named Red Eagle carved a small bear out of limestone. It was lost during a legendary battle at Fort Mechingan, somewhere deep in the woods of what is now Door County, Wisconsin.
Although searchers have tried, no sign of the fort has ever been found.
While spending the summer in Door County, a boy named Wyatt decides to look for it.
Meanwhile, a Potawatomi boy named Robert listens to the story of his ancestor, Red Eagle. Robert wonders, too, what happened to the fort and the carving.
Finding them will unforgettably connect Wyatt, Robert and Red Eagle. But as the summer draws to an end Wyatt has still not found the fort, despite lots of help from woodland animal friends and his loyal yellow lab, Bailey. Will Fort Mechingan – and the carved bear – remain buried forever in Wisconsin’s Northwoods?
American Indian lore, authentic ‘Up North’ scene-setting and a poignant message about friendship combine in this heartwarming tale about a 350-year-old mystery. Ultimately, the lives of three boys will intertwine. An idiosyncratic cast of woodland animals, with rib-tickling names like Quirky the Turkey and (purportedly Irish) Roscoe O’Possum, join Wyatt in his quest. Doctor Doolittle-like, Wyatt talks with them. A succession of situations, add depth without veering the story off course.
Language is spot-on for targeted upper elementary readers. Readers will especially relate to moments when characters must decipher big words. The author’s hilarious, first-person chapter transitions lend just-right bonus fun. The plot clips along and finally settles in a satisfying, believable way the question of whether the amulet and the fort’s remains will ever be unearthed. Throughout, Thorpe’s back porch, grandfatherly writing style charms. Delightful. — Inkspots, Inc.
New Children’s Book Set in Door County
Peninsula Pulse, Sept. 27, 2013