Allison's Book Bag

Tales from Tamarack by Heather Boone

Posted on: July 10, 2013

TalesTamarackWhat does a picture book about woodland creatures in an imaginary cove have to do with Newfoundland? I first picked up Tales from Tamarack by Heather Boone for two reasons. First, it has a cute cover! Second, for awhile my selections of picture books by Newfoundland authors were so limited that I pretty much bought anything I could find. As I browsed through my pile recently, however, I began to have second thoughts about Boone’s book. One shouldn’t judge a book by its exterior. Nor should one purchase a regional book  without taking time to evaluate the writing or the content. Thankfully, when I took the time to read Tales from Tamarack, I discovered the narrative as delightful as the artwork. Moreover, the woodland creatures of Tamarack both entertained and educated me about the wildlife of Newfoundland.

Tales from Tamarack is about four animal friends who explore a trail in the woods. Boone nicely builds up the suspense, telling readers that it’s a perfect day for adventure, Bethany Beaver has planned a surprise for her friend Martin, and there are dangerous creatures in the woods. As the four creatures trek through a bog, they encounter many adventures including picking berries, finding a new plant, and getting lost in the fog. Oh, and they also meet an unusual bird, whom they have been warned to avoid because it is as big as an eagle, has a razor-sharp beak, wear make-up like clowns, and will eat anything. I appreciated how natural Boone’s explanations of unfamiliar words were. For example, when telling readers that Martin picked bakeapples, Boone described the latter as “berries, which are the size of raspberries … and a light orange color”. Boone also excellently captured how young animals might react to a discovery of a plant. At first, the four all gathered around the Pitcher Plant and examined it. After that, when it didn’t do anything, they went back to picking berries.

Along with being a fun adventure, Tales from Tamarack familiarized me with five native Newfoundland animals: snowshoe hare, red squirrel, beaver, Atlantic puffin, and pine martin. It also introduced me to some of this province’s trees such as birch, fir, and alder. Bogs, along with some of its berries and plants, are also described. Near the end of the adventure, the four animal friends stumble across the Newfoundland coast. As with these critters, many of Boone’s readers may have never encountered the ocean. Readers will not only get caught up in the excitement of the four furry friends, but will no doubt end up believing like them that is so much to do at the ocean. For example, there are fishing communities, high cliffs, and gigantic icebergs. Oh, and don’t forget about that unusual bird. The friends actually meet a colony of them! If readers still have questions at the end about the five native Newfoundland animals, there is a two-page information spread which provides detailed information.

Like me, 365 Days apparently tried to find other books about the Tamarack animals and found none. The blurb on the back indicates that, as the time of publication, Heather Boone had graduated from Clarenville High School and was attending Memorial University of Newfoundland. The illustrator Missy Martin was similarly attending university. Perhaps these young ladies developed Tales from Tamarack as a school project? Whatever the truth, I wish the two would collaborate again to write an entire Tamarack series.

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?

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2 Responses to "Tales from Tamarack by Heather Boone"

This sounds like a book my kids would love! They enjoy learning about animals.

Have a great Thursday!

Most of my Newfoundland picture books feature animals. Keep checking back! You might find a few more books to consider. 🙂

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Fall 2017: Focus on Cats!

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