HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Disappearing Stranger: Adventures of the Northwoods, Book 1
Author: Lois Walfrid Johnson
Cover Illustrator: Tom Holden
Publisher: Mott Media, republished in 2009
Related website: http://www.loiswalfridjohnson.com (author), http://www.mottmedia.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 9-10 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Johnson, Lois Walfrid. The Disappearing Stranger: Adventures of the Northwoods, Book 1 (originally published in 1990 by Bethany House Publishers; republished in 2009 by Mott Media, 1130 Fenway Circle, Fenton, MI 48430). It is 1906 and twelve-year-old Katherine (Kate) O’Connell lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her mother Ingrid (nee Lindblom) who had come as a girl of seventeen from Sweden. Her Irish immigrant father Brendan had died a year before in a construction accident. Mama is so sad that Kate goes to the minister and asks him to pray that Mama will find a new husband. But God answers their prayer in an unexpected way. Mama meets Carl Nordstrom of Windy Hill Farm at Trade Lake, WI, near Grantsburg. Carl’s wife had died of scarlet fever, and when he and Mama marry, she and Kate will have to leave Minneapolis and go to wild, far-off Wisconsin to live with Carl’s three children, Anders who is twelve, Lars who almost nine, and Tina who is four.
While getting used to a new family, a new school, and new friends, Kate sees a mysterious stranger in the woods and finds evidence that he is lurking about their farm. But why? Are their lives in danger? And if she told her new family what she saw, would anyone believe her? The only questionable element that some might find in the book is that the preacher is called “Pastor Munson.” In addition to the mystery element that will keep readers turning the pages, the story provides an interesting look at what life was like in Wisconsin right after the turn of the twentieth century. And it is especially gratifying to see how Kate, who already believes in God, learns from practical experience what it means to trust Him. Beginning with Book 2, The Hidden Message, there are nine more volumes in the Adventures of the Northwoods series. Lois Walfrid Johnson is also the author of the five-volume Viking Quest series which comes highly recommended.