Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Sasquatch and the Muckleshoot

Sasquatch and the Muckleshoot
by Adam Gidwitz and Joseph Bruchac
illust. by Hatem Aly
Recommended Ages: 10+

The eccentric Professor Fauna, founder of the Unicorn Rescue Society, pulls Elliot and Uchenna out of class again, on a ridiculous pretext, and packs them and their pet Jersey devil onto the single-prop airplane he keeps parked in the teachers' parking lot (again), for a quick trip to the Pacific Northwest to help a fellow member of the society protect the Sasquatch from a new threat. Along the way, not only do the kids miraculously survive another of the professor's frequent plane crashes, and encounter a real creature that most people mistakenly equate with Bigfoot (not real), but they also learn about why the pine forests of the northwest are so important to the ecosystem, become acquainted with a Native American tribe's folkways and language, defend a sacred secret against exploitation by a TV news crew and, incidentally, save a forest and its denizens from the evil Schmoke Brothers, who are at their old tricks again.

I don't think I need to tell you much more about this book, other than to repeat that it's lots of fun, with goofy characters including a Native American dad who's addicted to dad jokes, his adventurous daughter who expects Elliot to propose marriage to her someday, some Muckleshoot vocabulary that requires different alphabet characters (luckily, this series is good at providing pronunciation hints for new words), and a side helping of some Native Americans' spirituality and their interpretation of U.S. history. A mild political content advisory applies, not just to this book but to the series as a whole, whether it's Book 1's view of America from the New Jersey Pine Barrens, Book 2's visit to the Basque Country or, I'm already finding out, Book 4's (The Chupacabras of the Rio Grande) view from the U.S.-Mexican border. However, I stress the word "mild" and add that whatever your politics, you've gotta be charmed by these characters and their quirks, from the way Elliot earns the nickname Screams A Lot to what you find out if you run a Spanish-to-English translation on the swear words Professor Fauna yells out. When I did that on "¡Palabrota indecible!" it brought on one of the best and most needed laughs I've had in a long time.

This is the third book in the "Unicorn Rescue Society" series, all written by Adam Gidwitz either solo or with various co-authors. Joseph Bruchac, whose works are inspired by his Abenaki American Indian heritage, is also the author of two "Skeleton Man" novels, the "Killer of Enemies" trilogy, two "PathFinders" books, two "Jacob Neptune" mysteries, three "Powwow Mysteries," more than 40 other novels, more than 20 children's books, about 10 nonfiction books and a ton of collected poems and short stories. He has been nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and has edited or co-edited several anthologies.

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