Grades 2-4 (Orca Book Publishers, 2010)
When his mom flies to England to care for Granny, Evan is left to spend Christmas break with “ex-con Aunt Mag.” Worse than that, Aunt Mag lives in the middle of the nowhere – probably to hide from the eyes of the law.
It takes a while before Evan appreciates that living in the wilderness means outdoor hockey rinks, bonfires on the beach and actual hovercraft wildlife rescues. He makes friends with Cedar and forms a special kind of connection with a loon who has remained on the lake long into the winter. Evan knows somebody has to do something before the lake freezes and the bird is stranded.
The Last Loon is identifiably Canadian, yet refreshingly modern. Upjohn has created a multidimensional 11-year-old character, not an easy feat in an early grade novel with 126 pages of text. Evan loves his Maple Leafs poster but he also enjoys a creative verse of the “Corner Grocery Store.” He learns about living “off the grid,” about loons and wolves and about not judging others. Because he is so relatable, the reader absorbs that knowledge right along with Evan in a manner that is osmotic – absorbed at the roots and passed up.
The Last Loon is one of Resource Links 2010 “The Year’s Best” and the winner of the 2011 IODE Jean Throop Award. As a part of the Orca Young Readers series, it is geared at readers in grades 3 through 4, but it is a book I enjoyed reading right alongside my son.