Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dead Man's Rapids by William Durbin; Barbara Durbin

He's thirteen and working with his best friend and his dad on the wanigan (the floating cook shack).  All is going well, his father is a good cook, and he's having fun even if it is a lot of work.  Then his father fell in love and decides to quit the job; he's staying.  Ben and Never go to work as cooking assistants.  They'll be grabbing a new cook shortly...

University of Minnesota Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 11th.

The old fashioned ways of logging are part my personal history.  Washington state was full of big trees, lots of logging and there was a lot history you could still view.  Huge stumps, waterways coming down the mountain to the river and more.  The story of two young boys going on their portage to Canada sounded good to me.

This is a very authentic tale of what it's like to control a group of logs.  The rivers has wide and narrow spots, there are rapids, and it's easy to get caught in the logs.  The boys discover this truth when they practice on the logs.  The water is cold and they got several baths before they got better at it.

The new cook is dirty, ugly, and only cooks stew.  Fish stew, chicken stew, beef stew.  Whatever comes on board goes in the soup pot.  The men don't like it but they're hungry so they eat it.  Then the cook meets a German widow and decides to stay with her and quits.  That leaves the two apprentice cooks in charge of meals.  They manage to do it but it's a lot of work!

As you follow them along the river and learn about the difficulties of log work, you'll begin to care about them and the men they work with.  The boys' friendship manages to stay in place even after a bout of poison ivy.  People were tougher then.  We could use some of that these days, too.

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