on April 15, 2000
This is the sequel to "Lost in the Barrens" (1956), written in the mid-1960s. Both books tell the story of a youth who is orphaned and sent to be with his trapper/outdoorsman uncle up in the far north of Canada. In this volume, the southern authorities appear on the scene, wishing to remove the still underage central character back to the south, for "his own good." In company with an Indian girl and an Eskimo lad, our hero sets off into the northern wilderness, trying to keep one step ahead of the police. Mowat then brings in the story of an old Viking grave which he had already woven into the first volume. What follows is a voyage of discovery during which the three members of the team help each other to overcome the hardship of the land, as they travel down a river road known only in the folk lore of the northern tribes, and not used in generations. The story hangs finally on this question: will they make it?
It is a thrilling journey and a fine novel and if your children don't appreciate it, I'm sure you will. It's a fascinating journey into native cultures as well, although I believe there is some debate about what right a man like Farley Mowat has to even get involved with "their" culture. For me, the sensitivity of books like this one, whether towards man or the environment, speaks volumes by itself.