Title: Living Forest Series
Author: Sam Campbell
Major Themes: Porcupines, Wilderness, Wisconsin, Squirrels, World War II Family Read-alouds, Canada, Canoe Trips, Board Books, Children, Bears, Birds, Grand Canyon, Racoons, Deer, Hawaii, Animal Stories
Synopsis: This series describes quite a series of animals that the Campbells adopted or became friends with over a period of several years, mostly on their island sanctuary in Wisconsin but also in other parts of the country as they traveled around taking pictures.
Too Much Salt and Pepper describes the summer the Campbells spent with two young porcupines. There are a lot of philosophical passages, which slow the story down considerably, but there are gems of stories here and there as well. The young person in this story is Carol, a young lady who came and learned a lot about herself and life.
In Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo—and Still-Mo, the Campbells and their guest, Duke, a young man on his way to fight in the South Pacific, adopt five orphaned baby red squirrels. Soon after this, Duke leaves for the war, but returns a year later, traumatized by his experiences and needing to recuperate.
A Tippy Canoe and Canada, Too finds the Campbells and a friend headed north into the canoe country of Canada to search for a special place they have been dreaming of. The adventures along the way make a wonderful tale, and I really like the little boy who comes into their life in Wisconsin in the beginning of the book.
My favorite parts of On Wings of Cheer had to do with the little boy, Hi-Bub, who was introduced in the previous book, and an old Indian man Sam and Giny met a couple of times throughout the fall and winter described here.
In Moose Country, Sam and Giny head back to their special lake in the canoe country of Canada, this time with Hi-Bub and his parents. Before they can depart, however, they wage a war with the squirrels who are determined to take over their Wisconsin house.
In Seven Secrets of Somewhere Lake, Sam and Giny determined they could not take in any baby animals this spring—they had to go to Grand Canyon to do filming. When they found themselves the foster parents of several helpless little creatures anyway, what were they to do?
Loony Coon has always been my favorite of Sam Campbell’s books, probably because it was the first I ever read. There are some chapters in this book I simply cannot read without laughing out loud, no matter how many times I’ve read them!
Fiddlesticks and Freckles is also a fun story about two baby deer—although it is very sad in places. The part of the story that takes place in Hawaii is quite fun, as well—and the ending is lovely.
Beloved Rascals has some of my favorite lines in the whole series, due to a clumsy twin boy who mixes up his words. The pet crow makes for some very funny scenes, and the time in the Canadian Rockies was fun, too.
WARNING: See individual titles for warnings.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15