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“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island.”
Summary: Watchdog Mountain, in the Catskill mountain range, has seen it all. For centuries it was the 'prize' of any number of explorers and would-be profiteers. Today, it is now a protected natural resource. This is an environmental history.
Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 to 13
Young Reader Reaction: This book is a very well-written book because it is able to tell a story from many perspectives: time, native Indians, White settlers, industrialists, and even the mountain itself. The writer is also able to incorporate emotions into the story, allowing us to feel both anger and pity towards the people who exploited the mountain to gain the treasures they seek. Unlike most books which view treasures as gold, jewels, and other valuable items, this book is able to present to the reader that the true treasure that nature has is its unique flora and fauna. Readers are thus prompted to protect nature and preserve its treasures. I would recommend this book to children aged 10 and above. This book is especially useful to children with an interest in plants, animals, or environmental protection.
Adult Reader Reaction: It took me a little bit to get into the book. In fact, I had almost given up on it when it suddenly became very interesting. This is a fascinating read about how progression, in hindsight, might be seen as regression.
Pros: The author has chosen to tell the story of Watchdog Mountain as a biography and the approach works well. The story weaves a vivid historical perspective of social, cultural, economic, and technological evolutions of our country.
Cons: This is a historical narration. If you're looking for a story with a character's perspective, this one won't satisfy that need.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is worth your time to read; especially if you have kids studying American history. Still, unless the Catskills have special meaning for you, this isn't one that is for your ever-after bookshelf.
Educational Themes: There are lots of ways to go with this story: environmental study, technological evolution, sociology and culture. The book offers the opportunity to extract individual themes, but also shows how they overlap. The stages are graphically described that the reader can visualize them. The life stages through which the mountain has passed make great discussion topics for the science classroom.
Notes: The Reading Tub™ reviewed a Newly Illustrated edition.