The entire planet is peppered with legends of cryptids; animals whose existence and survival is highly disputed and unproven. And yet, the notions of their presence in our world persist. The one creature that seems to arouse the most attention and inspire endless stories and sightings is that of Bigfoot; Sasquatch; Ape-like homonids that roam the forests secretly, leaving little behind apart from enormous footprints. But surely Bigfoot is just a myth; a story to frighten and fascinate in equal measure. Surely. And yet…
author: Roderick O’Grady
Firefly Press (29 April 2021)
Nestled high up in her pine tree where the mountains meet the shore of a small inlet of the bay, Minnie sits watching the deep green trees on the far island, wondering if the oncoming thunderstorm would bring another explosive lightning strike. The forest fires had devastated those mountains, and the hope of rain to help put the out was met by the reality of lightning strikes that spurred them on. In the safe little cluster of cabins on her side, where she lives with her stepfather, Dan; grieving the loss of her mother a few months before, there had been no fires…but there was always the threat. Their holiday rental business was suffering…badly. And there was little to do. With her only nearby neighbour and best friend, Billy, Minnie takes to the trails up the mountain, creating games and scrambling around to see what they can see, when the pair discover four giant footprints. Dan says it’s just a hoax, but Minnie thinks she’ knows better and she sets out to prove it.
Kaayii is a young Sasquatch, living with his clan in perfect balance within the mountain forest. They are the guardians of their surroundings, protecting every living thing; bringing understanding and sensitivity to it all, from the trees, to the grassy meadows; the mountain lions and wolves to the smallest natural creatures. To escape the fires that are destroying their home, they are forced to move across the mountain. But the Sasquatch find their ancient paths are blocked by the small cluster of holiday cabins lovingly built by Minnies’ mother, the only place Minnie has ever called home. Then one day, while keeping watch over his new territory, Kaayii spies a young girl, and she badly needs his help. Can Minnie and Kaayii build a new understanding and help their families heal?
What a beautiful book! A story of courage, healing, protecting the natural world and incredible adventure, this book has everything you want. With evocative writing, Bigfoot Mountain conjures up the depth, beauty and nature of these mountains with such power that you can smell the scent of pine wafting on the winds. The description of each creature gives a sense of their being; their strengths, their fragility. The story causes the reader to consider how we, as humans, fit into nature and how our actions can help or hinder. All the characters are painted in such a way that we immediately relate and understand, whether human, bigfoot or animal. We see and feel their dilemmas; their fears, their courage and their joys. Through brave, bold Minnie and all her careful research and examination, it stretches our creative thinking, pushing to question what we know is real and what may be possible. She may have her moments of fear and frustration, but her voice will be heard! And she will make all those around her take action; the right action! All in a book for 8 to 12-year-olds.
And that’s the thing. This is a middle-grade novel. So while it’s all well and good to talk about the “messages” within the story, it needs to be appealing…it needs adventure. And this one certainly has adventure in spades. While all the action takes place in a small area, it expands that space, creating a vision that takes us right in. The intrepid exploration of the mountain trails (by the way, there’s a map! I do love a map!), the unfolding discoveries of the beauty and the danger, the unbelievable encounters…it’s just consuming. There are nail-biting moments and episodes that build to great relief and quiet, powerful joy. Along with the fantastic exploits, this is also the tale of two families; one human, one Bigfoot; finding their way past the tragedies that have befallen them. I actually felt like I was living through this moment in time with these people and all they experience. Adventurous, brave, moving, filled with hope and heart, and totally enthralling; I can whole-heartedly recommend climbing up Bigfoot Mountain.
Thank you so very much to Firefly Press for the proof copy of this stunning book. Excuse me now, I’m off to read it again. https://fireflypress.co.uk/books/bigfoot-mountain/