Unlike the rest of her nature-obsessed family, Louisa wants to be a musician, not a biologist.
But when Louisa’s mother finds out that the Australian government is about to destroy the Tasmanian rainforest camp their family has managed for decades, she insists that Louisa leave Toronto and spend the summer on the strange, small island with her even stranger uncle Ruff. But when Uncle Ruff gives Louisa a copy of her great-grandmother’s journal, Louisa becomes fascinated with her family’s history of secretly protecting endangered species, including the mysterious Tasmanian tiger, widely regarded as extinct. With the help of her new friend and neighbor Colin—a boy who has autism spectrum disorder—Louisa deepens her connection with her family’s land, with history, and with her love of music. Kadarusman masterfully creates a lush, magical world where issues associated with conservation, neurodiversity, and history intersect in surprising and authentic ways. The book’s small cast of characters (principals seem all White) is well drawn and endearing. Crucially, the author acknowledges the original, Indigenous inhabitants of the land as experts, something rarely seen in books about environmental degradation. Louisa’s narratorial voice strikes the right balance of curiosity, timidity, and growing confidence, and her character’s transformation feels both incredibly natural and incredibly rewarding to behold.
A beautiful conservation story told in a rich setting and peopled with memorable characters.(Fiction. 10-14)