An eagle named Ranger Baldy, who’s also an animal rescuer and conservationist, joins a cast of friendly, Disney-esque animals in his first adventure.
Baldy, a Ranger First Class in the Animal Ranger Corps, is new to Yosemite Valley. He was born in a zoo and raised in captivity, so he’s suspicious of human “two-leggers,” as they harm nature, which he’s sworn to protect. In beautifully painted panoramas, the cartoon eagle begins the story by flying to the rescue of mischievous Bobby Cat. The feline’s fall from a teetering tree causes a number of other trees to topple and block a waterfall. Gruff Baldy scolds Bobby and his friend Mules Deer and enlists them to help clear the waterfall’s path—but then the water mysteriously vanishes. Baldy follows some two-legger tracks, thinking that humans may be to blame for the disappearing water, but Graycee Fox assures Baldy, as they converse among bright redwoods, that the humans were actually planting trees. Still looking for a lead, Baldy helps a kingsnake mother move her eggs to a safer location, knowing that, like the baby trees, those baby snakes will need to have water—but that won’t happen unless he can solve the mystery. Flying high, he sees that snow is also missing from the mountaintops, so he decides to visit his old Ranger Chief, J.M. Bear, for advice. The old grizzly bear explains that the dried-out falls are just a part of Yosemite’s natural cycle. Although Baldy is ashamed of his lack of knowledge, Bear praises him for his attention during his investigation: “ ‘It’s those little things that matter most,’ said J.M. ‘They make the big difference.’ ” The book’s combination of gorgeously painted backgrounds and cartoon animals works brilliantly and may encourage young readers to take an interest in Yosemite and other national parks. Baldy is exactly the type of hero that young animal lovers and conservationists will eagerly follow: brave, kind and willing to learn from his mistakes. Early elementary schoolers, whether independent readers or lap-readers, will be eager for more of Baldy’s adventures.
A vividly illustrated picture book about one of Mother Nature’s mysteries, with plenty of kid appeal.