First off, I must apologize to Darlene Foster. She sent me this autographed book ages ago and it got lost in those piles of books that tend to take over our house. It isn't that I didn't want to read it I just couldn't find it until we recently moved.
Foster's Amanda series is about a preteen girl who travels around the world and solves mysteries. In this adventure, Amanda stays home and her friend, Leah, comes to visit from England. When they are watching the parade at the Calgary Stampede, Amanda picks up a rock that fell from the pocket of one of the rodeo clowns. He left before she got a chance to return it to him. It turns out that this is no ordinary stone. As Amanda and Leah travel around Alberta visiting different places in the province, they are stalked by a nefarious character who wants the rock for himself.
Amanda in Alberta is loaded with lots of action and adventure as the girls attempt to elude him and discover more about the stone. Along the way, as they travel around the province, readers learn about Alberta as a modern place, but also about its history and geography. They visit Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump, a world heritage site that showcases how First Nations people of the area hunted and preserved buffalo. Another destination is Drumheller, where they visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum and learn about dinosaurs.
What worked for me:
It was enjoyable to read about familiar places. Foster has captured a sense of place in this novel. I liked the action and adventure that keep readers entertained at the same time as it will educate them. Through Leah's visit, Foster introduces readers to Alberta's First Nations people. At the same time as they are revealed as an historic culture, she also shows them as modern people living modern lives.
The large print made this book easy to read for me. It will also make it easier for younger readers to navigate. It is a bit more than a chapter book as it is written at about a grade 4 flesch kincaid reading level. It would make a great read aloud, and will probably appeal most to readers from ages 7 to 12 as Amanda and Leah embody both a naivety and sophistication that will appeal to them.
Quibbles and wishes:
When the girls visit a Pow-Wow, it is explained as a dance competition. It is my understanding that Pow-Wows are a much more complex cultural event that were once banned by the Canadian government. My wish is that this could have been somehow incorporated into the book.
Foster left out Fort MacLeod, renowned for its museum of the North West Coast Mounted Police and especially the Igloo Drive-In, where they serve the best real soft ice-cream in the province. Seriously, if I am within 50 kilometers of the place, a detour is made to visit it. No one I have ever taken there has been disapointed.
I've just made sure that all the books in the Amanda series will be part of our library.