Title: Fiddlesticks and Freckles
Author: Sam Campbell
Series: Living Forest, book 9
Major Themes: Deer, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Family Read-alouds, Animal Stories
Synopsis: Sam and Giny make new animal friends when they come across a doe and her twin fawns, and then go to Hawaii, where they spend time with old friends and new.
We have really enjoyed the Living Forest series of animal stories. Sam Campbell has done a very good job of bringing his animal friends to life—as well as his human friends! My first memory of Fiddlesticks and Freckles was when a student of mine brought it to school to show me after I read Loony Coon to the class. The next book I read to them was this one! We all enjoyed it, the way I remember from well over 20 years ago, and my boys enjoyed it now.
One day while walking through their favorite woods, Sam and Giny came across a doe with twin fawns. Could the mother be Bobette, a fawn they had raised several years ago? The fawns with her were distinctive, and received names that reflected the actions of one and the markings of the other, and Sam and Giny were thrilled to have new animal friends. But what happens when a cougar apparently moves into the area? And then…poachers appear on the scene.
In the fall, Sam and Giny go to Hawaii to make pictures of the natural life there, and visit Moke, a dear little boy and his mother. Sam tries surfing—with hilarious results! Moke’s pets cause trouble, and tragedy nearly comes to his home. Meanwhile, what is happening to the deer back home?
I especially enjoyed some of the vocabulary in this book. For example, one sentence says, “For the nonce….” Who uses words like that anymore? Then there is the advice Sam gave to a friend who was sorrowing for something he couldn’t have. Sam said, “If it’s a place you cannot reach, or a time you cannot recall, that you think is necessary to your happiness—don’t you see you are in a hopeless position? But if it is just a state of mind, a condition of thought within yourself that needs adjustment, then it lies within your power of accomplishment.”Those lines really resonated with me—our happiness is so much a product of our attitude, rather than our circumstances!
I have mixed feelings about some of the chapters in this book. Having lived in an area for many years where there are too many deer, I struggle with the negative view of hunting that is presented here. Yes, I agree that animals should not be made to suffer—but at the same time, in the absence of natural predators, there needs to be a harvest. As far as the part of the story which takes place in Hawaii, the ending of the story is predictable—but it’s great to read! You’ll fall in love with Moke and his pets, as well as his mother. This is another lovely story from Sam Campbell.
WARNING: Deer are killed in chapters 12 and 17.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15