The Skydiving Beavers: A True Tale
written by Susan Wood; illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen
2017 (Sleeping Bear Press)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
A real turf war. It seemed McCall just wasn't big enough for everybody.
So, what to do?
McCall, Idaho was an idyllic place. Set in the mountains with a beautiful blue lake. With that kind of setting, many wanted to live there. Humans and beavers. Humans liked it because they could enjoy swimming and hiking when it was warm and go skiing during the winter. Beavers desired the plentiful trees for building dams and snacking. Something had to give. Roads were flooding due to dams and trees were falling in backyards thanks to the beavers. McCall needed a plan. In stepped Elmo Heter. With his experience working for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Heter knew the beavers had to find a new home. He had the place picked out, but how to get the beavers there? The Chamberlain Basin was miles away and there was no road access to it. Being 1948, Heter remembered that there were plenty of parachutes in supply due to World War II being over a few years earlier. He designed a box that would stay closed until it touched the ground. Now he needed a test beaver. An old male, who Heter named Geronimo, was the test pilot. The first test was a success and Geronimo seemed to enjoy the tests that followed as he kept wanting to get back in the box for another run. The last part of the plan was to transport 76 beavers into the Chamberlain Basin. All but one of the beavers landed safely and their descendants still flourish today. More information about the relocation and about beavers are in the back matter.
What an interesting story! I wouldn't have believed this if I hadn't read the book. I think this would be a great mentor text in studying problems and solutions and also cause and effect. It's very engaging as it's definitely a unique problem that was solved in an equally unique way. I really appreciate Susan Wood's note that explains why this would have been solved differently in 2017. She also shows young writers how to build a picture in reader's minds with her descriptions of McCall and the Chamberlain Basin. Also very pleasing is the beautiful landscape artwork of the Idaho mountains. The Skydiving Beavers is an uncommon true story you will want to share with others.