Badir, a newly arrived Tunisian immigrant to Canada, rallies along with his classmates to save a beaver’s natural habitat from destruction by local residents annoyed by the animal’s constant damage to surrounding trees.
Badir is captivated by what he initially thinks is a huge, swimming rat, an animal he briefly spotted in a pond on his way back from school. With the help of the internet, his teacher, classmates, and also forthcoming strangers eager to share what they know, Badir soon learns that the little creature he spied in darkness is in fact a beaver, Canada’s national symbol. He also finds out that local residents, worried by how the beaver might harm the trees around its habitat, are starting a petition to have what they regard as a pest removed from the park. Unfazed by the task ahead, Badir, along with his classmates, organizes a countercampaign—brainstorming sessions, banners, and all. Who will ultimately get the upper hand? Will the beaver saga have a happy ending? With her gentle tale, Stewart does an excellent job at promoting cultural understanding, not only by foregrounding a young Muslim character and his family, but also by setting the story during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, introducing the reader to many of its facets and doing so with effortless grace. Gendron’s black-and-white illustrations depict a multiracial urban setting.
A beautifully written page-turner about belonging. (Fiction. 6-8)