Jun 19, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on A Natural Historian First; An Author Second

A Natural Historian First; An Author Second

That pretty much sums up Allan W. Eckert, author of Incident at Hawk’s Hill (a 1972 Newbery Honor book).  It was an interesting book, to say the least; a six-year-old with an affinity for animals spends two months lost on the Canadian prairie, cared for by a badger who has recently lost her young.  According to Eckert, it’s a slightly fictionalized account of an actual incident, which is incredible but not impossible (truth being absolutely stranger than fiction).  He does a good job portraying the boy’s parents and their conflicting worries for their son, although the third person omniscient gives the whole book a certain detached feel.  (You can tell that, in writing the book, he’s simply taking his observations of nature one step further.)  He also, however, exhibits a certain tendency to give a little more information about the habits of wildlife than a true novelist would.  I was interested in the statistics on prairie dog towns, actually, and I looked up ‘spermophiles’ because I was curious–it’s a genus of ground squirrels, by the way–but I’m not so sure that the average young reader will be (interested and curious, I mean).  To be fair, the plot might still draw them, and there’s certainly action.  It also moves fairly quickly, extra details not withstanding.  (I loved Atlas Shrugged, but Ayn Rand could have taken a lesson or two from this guy.  That 50-page radio speech just rehashed everything the previous 900 pages had covered already.)  Overall, then, I’d recommend it to anyone with a decent interest in wildlife–or North American western history.

Incident at Hawk’s Hill


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