Title: On Wings of Cheer
Author: Sam Campbell
Series: Living Forest, book 5
Major Themes: Animals, Children, Bears, Birds, Wilderness, Wisconsin
Synopsis: A red-winged blackbird shares his happy heart and brings joy to many people.
For several years now I’ve been reading a chapter a day from some book about nature. Currently, we’re reading through Sam Campbell’s Living Forest series. His perspective on animals is quite interesting, and I really appreciate the hints I pick up here and there that he is a believer in God.
On Wings of Cheer appears to begin where A Tippy Canoe and Canada Too ends. Sam and Giny have returned recently from their canoe trip and are spending a few fall months in their cabin on the island. Their little friend, Hi-Bub, who first came into their lives in the previous book, is bringing excitement and joy—and so is the red-winged blackbird, Cheer, who has stayed on in the North Country of Wisconsin long after all the other blackbirds have left for the south. Then comes winter, and the annual lecture tour—which, this year, includes one of Hi-Bub’s friends, who is bedridden but badly wants to see Sam’s pictures anyway.
A special Christmas is described—you’ll love the story about Big John Shawano, the Indian who wanted to hear the story of Jesus read from the Bible. And then follows the suspenseful return to the Island Sanctuary, with much doubt as to whether the trip would be made in safety. After that, a summer’s worth of interest is described. We loved the chapter in which Hi-Bub’s new dog Hobo learned not to chase animals!
There were a lot of good thoughts in On Wings of Cheer, wrapped up in lovely stories. Hi-Bub and his lisp and his enthusiasm for life and nature add a wonderful dimension to the stories of the animals. I really appreciated some of Big John’s thoughts, especially when Giny was telling him he shouldn’t be alone on Christmas. His reply was wonderful: “Me no lone! Me never lone! God with John day, night, all time.” Another passage that stood out to me was when Sam and Giny were in great danger. The thought that came to him at that moment was the verse in John in which Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing,” and Sam, realizing he was helpless, prayed.
If you like stories about nature, you will love this book. It is not only about nature and animals, however. There is much about people in it, too. Who could resist a little fellow with a lisp like Hi-Bub? He is a dear character. Big John is a fascinating character, too. Of course, however, the animals are the stars, and one of our favorites in these pages was Old Charley, the bear. We loved the story of the fishing trip!
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above