COUNT ME IN by Sara Leach


Age Range: 10 - 14
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When 12-year-old Tabitha is forced by her parents to go backpacking with her two cousins and recently widowed Aunt Tess, she ends up with more of an adventure than any of them planned.

Both of Tabitha’s somewhat older cousins, Cedar and Ashley, are confident, experienced hikers, but nothing can fully prepare them for the series of misadventures that occurs after they climb to a mountaintop hut in British Columbia. Rain falls relentlessly. The dog, Max, wanders off when Tabitha is walking him. Ashley, even after she’s badly injured in a careless fall, uses every opportunity to express her hatred—never fully explained—for Tabitha, including deceitfully blaming her for the accident. After their attempt to hike out is thwarted by a flooded river, they begin to have problems with a very persistent bear, leading to many more issues. As the problems mount, Tabitha bravely responds, believably moving from her earlier self-pity to more appropriate responses, even coming to recognize that what she’s learning may help her with bullying problems she’s been having at school. The setting is well realized, and the authentic action sustains interest. If some of the dynamics between the characters are insufficiently developed, and a somewhat improbable conclusion seems forced, the suspense helps mitigate the issues.

A taut adventure tale that features plenty of action and some troubled relationships. (Adventure. 10-14)
Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55469-404-4
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Orca
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2011


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