HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Shadows on the Pond
Author: Alison Cragin Herzig
Jacket Illustrator: Deborah Chabrian
Publisher: Little Brown and Co., 1985
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 12-15
Rating: **** 4 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Category: General youth fiction
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Herzig, Alison Cragin. Shadows on the Pond (Published in 1985 by Little Brown and Company, Boston, MA). Jill Matthews, almost fourteen years old, is with her mother at their Vermont summer cottage while her father remains with Jill’s older sister Kate at their home in New York. To escape worries about problems between her parents, Jill spends most of her time with her neighbor and life-long friend Migan (full name—Ptarmigan) Todd, also about fourteen at a beaver pond which is their sanctuary deep in the woods. The girls court danger by destroying the beaver traps set by cruel Jim McCullough, known as “Trapper Jeep,” who is the fiancé of Migan’s Aunt Karen. Another danger is a drunk named Carly Simon who drives around the pond in his old jalopy shooting off his rifle.
A broken arm grounds Migan, but Ryan Jameson, a teenage boy whom Jill has seen at her school in the city, arrives in Vermont to visit friends nearby and helps her in trying to save the beavers. The story’s climax is an explosion at the beavers’ dam. Who caused it? Does anyone get hurt? And what happens to the beavers? There are references to drinking wine and beer and smoking cigarettes. The “d” word is used a couple of times, once by fifteen year old Kate, and the “h” word is found once. This book is a story both of first love, with some emphasis on kissing, and of ecological interest, without being environmentally extreme. It would appeal mostly to adolescent girls.