Sep 28, 2014

Lost in the Barrens

by Farley Mowat

This book has sat so long on my shelf I don't even remember where it came from. It's an adventure story about two boys who get abandoned in the remote Barrenlands of northern Canada. One is a Cree boy, the other nephew to a local trader. They visit a neighboring tribe of starving Chipeweyans who set off on a desperate hunting trip into lands further north, hoping to intercept caribou on their migration route. They fear going into Eskimo territory, who have long been their enemies, but see no other way to survive. The boys aren't supposed to go along but they convince the Chipeweyan leader, who then refuses to be responsible for them. Not quite able to keep up with the main group, the boys get separated and left behind. They have to survive the winter on their own, with limited tools, weapons and clothing. However the Cree boy has lots of survival skills and the Canadian boy is pretty good at thinking up new ideas, so together they manage well, in spite of wrecking their canoe, getting injured, encountering a bear and loosing some food stores to wolverines. Things start to look up when they find two lost husky dogs and tame them. Now they can build a sled and set out for home- but in their eagerness they go too soon, before winter is really over. Stuck in a blizzard, their only hope for rescue lies in an Eskimo encounter- which they fear above all else.

So. This is a good adventure story, especially if you like the wilderness survival type. It's a bit dated (references to Vikings and Eskimos), and written for a younger age group so didn't really hold my attention all the way through. I did like reading how the boys figured out how to make things with their limited supplies and what they could get from the wilderness. It just doesn't have quite the level of detail or characterization I appreciate more these days.

Rating: 2/5     192 pages, 1956

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