Written and Illustrated by Nicholas Oldland
Kids Can Press, 2015
There once was a bear, a moose and a beaver who loved adventures.
The plot in a nutshell: Three friends climb a mountain.
The bear, moose and beaver are friends who sometimes let their competitive natures get the best of them. One day, they plan to climb a mountain and their path to get there takes them into a valley, across a field, through a stream and over a canyon. While they rest and have a snack, they try to come up with ways make their climb more interesting. The beaver suggests turning their climb into a race, so they take off, running up the mountain. The moose takes the lead, but then a boulder in his path forces him to leap off the mountain. When the beaver doesn’t see the moose ahead, he tries to push himself faster, worried that he’s way behind. The bear hears the moose yelling for help and sees him hanging from a tree, so he tries to rescue him, but just ends up getting stuck in the tree as well. The beaver follows their calls for help and saves his friends. They come to the conclusion that having a race made it too interesting so they climb slower, exploring caves and fossils along the way. When they reach the top, they agree that working together rather than having a competition is the best way to play.
Author/illustrator Nicholas Oldland comes from an artistic family. His mother was a painter and his father used her designs to create clothing and accessories that they sold in their Little Blue House shop in Canada and at their webstore, Hatley. They have both retired since and their sons are running the business now, with Nicholas creating all the new artwork. He’s taken some of that artwork and used it to create the Life in the Wild book series, featuring these same characters. The illustrations were done in PhotoShop, and they have a slick look with awesome mountain inspired colors. Keen eyes will spot a little red bird that seems to stick close to the group of friends throughout the story. I like the book’s lesson and the artwork is cute, but it came off a little emotionless. The characters have very little expression and it makes them seem less involved in what’s going on. Cute, but not a strong recommendation.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that competition can be fun, but if it is causing problems, cooperation may be a better alternative.