Loony Coon (Living Forest #8)

Campbell08Loony Coon by Sam Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One cannot doubt that raccoons can be both a source of problems and of humor, but sometimes a raccoon comes along that takes it to extremes. Loony Coon is the eighth book of Sam Campbell’s Living Forest series which features the antics of the titular raccoon in question as observed by Sam, his wife, Giny, and their friends around the Sanctuary of Wegimind while also visiting an old timer who has is own private sanctuary with a domineering goose.

Sam and Giny visit “Coony Castle” after not seeing a raccoon regular at their cabin, Andrea, and discover that she’s giving birth to six babies though one immediately stands out with a floppy left ear and adventurous behavior—Loony. Although they express interest in all of Andrea’s family, it’s really Loony that becomes the focus of their attention as well as their newest human friends. Sonya Eck, a young fan of Sam’s, and her parents visit the Campbell’s home not only give their daughter a nature experience but to help her mother Dorothy to not fear animals which results in her own misadventures amongst the wildlife. The Campbells with new friends in tow visit another nature lover several times; Warden Olie, whose animal friends is second only to that of the Campbells though the goose Grandmaw might be the most domineering animal ever encountered in the series, features in a few humorous situations peppered throughout the book. The end of the book finds Loony, his mother Andrea, and a sibling sharing “Coony Castle” for the winter and Dorothy on nearly friendly terms with her daughter’s pets after a most interesting summer and fall.

Like the majority of the books in this series the length of this book is around 230 pages and is a blend of styles, from the familiar prose of Sam and using other’s stories to fill in content of the book. Unlike the previous book, Campbell’s words are used throughout however he invests more space for the stories of others though in his words. The dominating feature of the book is how baby raccoons develop, with Loony as the featured star, however the mission of Dorothy Eck to not fear animals is the strong secondary feature of the book that gives hopes to anyone who is intimidated by animals to learn that others have dealt with them. And the interludes with Warden Olie feature extreme fun while also helping give the book its’ usual element of forest philosophy.

Loony Coon is a wonderful mixture of nature related humor and adventure which is a special feature of Sam Campbell’s Living Forest series. If you’ve enjoyed the previous books of Campbell’s you’ll enjoy this one, but if you’re knew of Campbell’s writing this might be a nice book to start with.

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The Seven Secrets of Somewhere Lake (Living Forest #7)

Campbell07Seven Secrets of Somewhere Lake by Sam Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Grand Canyon is considered one of the world’s greatest natural features and living in and around it are numerous species that add to its wonder, especially when you are a naturalist. The Seven Secrets of Somewhere Lake is the seventh book of Sam Campbell’s Living Forest book series in which Sam, his wife Giny, and friends both new and old have interactions with animals both at the Sanctuary of Wegimind and the Grand Canyon.

The Campbells begin the book making a sincere pledge to one another not take in any baby animals, but then a trapper family sends them a letter asking for help. That help turned out to be taking in fawn named Zipper, then a few days later it was taking in Zowie a baby fox from the same family, next was an puppy abandoned right in front of them that they named Zanie, next was a baby skunk named Zinnia they saved from some dogs, and finally were seven beavers—the titular secrets—they hid in a secluded lake. The Campbells found themselves in a dilemma as they planned to go to the Grand Canyon to take film and pictures of animals around the natural wonder; luckily they were able to get their young friends Hi-Bub and Tony come to spend the summer at the Sanctuary freeing them to head to Arizona. While the Campbells are around the Grand Canyon they made friends with a Hopi named John Corn and his son Kona, who are instrumental in helping them get film and pictures of animals, when Sam remembers to take the lens off the camera. Meanwhile the boys sends numerous letters giving details about what was happening around the Sanctuary including interactions with one of the members of the trapper family—Bill—that make the Campbells nervous about the relocated beavers. Returning to the Sanctuary, the Campbells find the boys in good spirits and the beavers safe, and later learn that Bill had learned of the beavers and informed Sam so he could keep an eye on them as he’s rejoining the army thus making Sam change his impression of the man.

The book was as long as the previous few books in the Living Forest series at 236 pages, but this one was stylistically different. While Campbell’s own words featured the activities that he was a part of, the letters by Hi-Bub and Tony were quoted verbatim thus adding new voices for a non-insubstantial portion of the text while the Campbells were in Arizona. While animals were the main focus of the book, there were some important human issues that were faced with John and Kona missing their wife/mother, Hi-Bub struggling to find himself, and Bill’s own personal change of attitude towards animals. There is some classical Campbell philosophy, especially when it concerned Hi-Bub, but the focus on the book was nature and adventure.

The Seven Secrets of Somewhere Lake is another wonderful book by Sam Campbell that not only features animal and human antics and adventures in the Sanctuary but also the Grand Canyon. If you’ve enjoyed other books of the Living Forest series, you’ll also enjoy this book.

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Moose Country (Living Forest #6)

Campbell06Moose Country: Living Forest Series Volume 6 by Sam Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some adventures are great with a small group and some with a large, yet no matter the size of the group it’s the experience that means more than anything. Moose Country by Sam Campbell is the sixth book so his Living Forest series, as the author details happenings around the Sanctuary of Wegimind as well as a return journey to Sanctuary Lake with numerous friends both longtime and new in learning about the ways of the moose in the Canadian lake country.

Beginning the winter of 1947, Sam and Giny Campbell are taking time away from the lecture circuit and living in the town close to their home to allow Sam to focus on writing. However that doesn’t stop Sam and others from have misadventures nor witnessing interesting animal behavior to convince the couple—well Sam—to remake their Sanctuary cabin to live in all weather. Unfortunately the Campbells find their newly installed insulation being taken out by their island squirrels and their chimney inhabited by chimney swifts, which results in some uncomfortable living for weeks as they attempt to relocate the squirrels who keep on coming back to the island and not having a fire in the cold spring nights. But the Campbells keep their spirits up as they plan to return to Sanctuary Lake, that they visited in A Tippy Canoe and Canada Too, by themselves and much to the disappoint of Hi-Bub. But things dramatically change over the course of a few weeks, first the squirrels are successful relocated in an abandoned logging village and impending move Hi-Bub’s family results in them joining the Campbells for their return to Canada. The last half of the book details the week’s long trip to and stay at Sanctuary Lake with all the adventures associated around it.

This book is just a page short of the previous installments page count at 235. Yet as my recap of the book above shows Campbell packs a lot of stuff in that space, so much so I can’t really give a proper recap of entire book. The latter part of the book sees the return of Sandy and more adventures that include the family of Ray, Marge, and June who surprise visit the Campbell’s and Hi-Bub’s family at Sanctuary Lake with their newest friend, French-Canadian voyageur Ancient who’s insights into the nature of the moose comes in handy. Though Campbell is philosophical, there is not much of it as in previous books.

Moose Country continues Sam Campbell’s fine work emphasizing the wonder of nature and the uniqueness of animals in the wild. Though half the book is a natural travelogue towards a remote Canadian lake and the wildlife around it, the wonder of nature is brought through in Campbell’s prose that will make it enjoy this book just as you did previous ones.

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On Wings of Cheer (Living Forest #5)

Campbell05On Wings of Cheer by Sam Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The sudden reappearance of a friend you thought you would not see for some time or ever again is always a wonderful feeling and is what Sam Campbell begins and ends this book with. On Wings of Cheer is the fifth book of Campbell’s Living Forest series, the author details a year’s worth of animal adventures and personal interactions around the Sanctuary of Wegimind during all seasons of the year.

Beginning in the fall of 1946, Campbell begins the book by detail the surprise return of a red-winged blackbird named Cheer as announced by his young friend Hi-Bub after everyone believed the bird had flown south. The Campbells and Hi-Bub enjoy the company of their winged friend for a few more weeks before Sam and Giny head out for their lecture tour believing they wouldn’t return until the next year. However, Hi-Bub is full of schemes to spend more time with the Campbell as he instigates a private lecture for his sick friend and then surprises them with plans for Christmas, which they find out have already been arranged for them. During their surprise Christmas trip back home, they have a run in with Indian John who fascinates young Hi-Bub, and visit their Sanctuary cabin. After returning to the lecture tour, the Campbells return to the Sanctuary and once again enjoying the company of their animal friends both old and new. One of these friends is a transplanted bear named Old Charley, who enjoyed having fun with every human he can even if he scares some of them to death. Another is Hi-Bub’s dog, Hobo, who has a run in with a porcupine and later befriends a fawn named Speckles. Yet the book almost ends on a sour note when Hi-Bub and Sam witness a fawn they believe to be Speckles get shot by an arrow as the youngster is slowly approaching to take a photograph; only on the Campbells’ last night do they discover a very alive Speckles who plays with his friend Hobo.

With a 236 pages, this book is slightly shorter than the previous book that Campbell wrote though packed with as much animal tales and misadventures as any other book of the Living Forest series. Hi-Bub is an integral part of the narrative throughout the book, especially when it comes to his little schemes that Sam as no problem admiring and writes about them accordingly. The interactions with Indian John and the reign of terror of Old Charley are both interesting and hilarious respectfully. There are fewer philosophical teachings of Sam Campbell than in previous books and they appear earlier in the book, though they are still excellent.

On Wings of Cheer is both similar too and different from the other books of Sam Campbell’s Living Forest series, as the same with animal and human tales plus misadventures but different in that all seasons were covered in the book. If you enjoyed other books of the series, then this one will be just as enjoyable.

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A Tippy Canoe and Canada Too (Living Forest #4)

Campbell04A Tippy Canoe and Canada Too by Sam Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sometime over the years an inanimate object becomes something more than it is, whether it is a car or in the case of Sam Campbell a canoe. A Tippy Canoe and Canada Too is the fourth book of Campbell’s Living Forest ranges from the Sanctuary of Wegimind to the wilds of Canada’s canoe country featuring not only animal adventures but also the last year of the Campbell’s durable canoe, Buddie.

Sam and Giny Campbell return to their animal sanctuary in early spring 1945 and find their durable canoe, Buddie, in bad shape and because a concern throughout the book even though they’re able to repair it well enough. Recovering from the bad news of their canoe, they are happily surprised to find Still-Mo with a family only because they thought she was a male. Soon they learn their island home’s resident woodchuck has also become a mother. As they enjoy the new residents of the island, Sam and Giny have another new young neighbor boy, Hi-Bud, who met Sam in St. Louis years before and has moved close by. Throughout the spring and summer, Hi-Bud becomes a welcome guest and nature-enthusiast-in-training that the couple enjoys having over. Late in the summer they welcome their friend Sandy on leave from V-E Day injury before his deployment to the Pacific only for the war to end, suddenly allowing the three of them to take their long awaited journey to Canadian canoe country to find an isolated lake to observe and research animals without hardly any human interference. Unfortunately this is Buddie’s last trip as it’s damaged so much that after their return they decide to burn the canoe in a pyre at the end of the book.

Although the book is the a little longer than the previous two books, Campbell packs a lot of stuff in this book though in his usual engaging and easy reading prose. Like the last book, a war-experience soldier brings some of philosophical thought to the front especially as he now is looking towards his future post-combat. With young Hi-Bud, youthful exuberance brings out another kind of philosophical thought from Campbell that is very enlightening especially in connection with the imaginative youngster. There is religious faith is written about, though not as prominent as the previous book.

A Tippy Canoe and Canada Too while very much like the previous three books of Sam Campbell’s series, it is also different as it gives the reader an impression about how things changed for people after World War II ended as compared to when it was going on. If you enjoyed the previous books that Campbell has written you’d enjoy this as well.

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Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo–and Still-Mo (Living Forest #3)

Campbell03Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo… And Still – Mo: Lessons In Living From Five Frisky Red Squirrels by Sam Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What happens when you decide to adopt five baby red squirrels? Based on the events in Sam Campbell’s Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo—and Still-Mo your life will definitely not be dull. This third installment of the Living Forest series like its predecessors follows the misadventures of titular squirrels and other animals in the Sanctuary of Wegimind that entertain and provide life lessons, but is different in that main story revolves around a friend of the Campbells.

The events chronicled take place over two years at the animal sanctuary run by Sam and Giny Campbell during World War II, most likely 1942-43. While the titular squirrels and their actions—especially early in the book—form a narrative thread throughout the book, the main person in Campbell’s narrative is his friend Duke. Visiting the sanctuary just before his deployment of the South Pacific and during a convalesce stay, Duke cares for the young squirrels when they first arrive at the sanctuary and is latter pivotal in finding most of them after they had left the island during the intervening winter. Yet his correspondence with the Campbells between his visits allows Sam not only relay the squirrels misadventures with one another but with other animals but Duke’s reaction to them, giving the reader a feeling of being a part of the experience ourselves.

Though being as long as the previous installment, this book’s focus on Duke and his experiences doesn’t take anything away from series focus on nature instead it provides greater depth to it. Campbell’s contrasting descriptions of Duke before and after his first deployment shows the affect that war has on an individual and how he relates to things especially those he loves. However Campbell also shows how nature can help those affect by war by providing a calming place to compose oneself, even if that individual knows he’s soon go back to “finish the job”. Religious faith, Christianity in particular, is talked about more in this book than the previous two books but not prominently and not until very late in the book close to end of Duke’s visit.

Although Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo—and Still-Mo is a little different from the previous two Living Forest books, Sam Campbell’s engaging writing of animals and nature is given a different focus during a very different era in U.S. history, though it’s still relevant today.

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Too Much Salt and Pepper (Living Forest #2)

Campbell02Too Much Salt and Pepper: Two Porcupines with Prickly Spines Who Make You Laugh and Think by Sam Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If one porcupine made for a good book then Sam Campbell thought that two would be even better. In the second book of his Living Forest series, Too Much Salt and Pepper, Campbell describes the adventures and lessons surrounding the titular “porkies” Salt and Pepper along with wise ol’ Inky during a year at the Sanctuary of Wegimind.

The events of this book take place a few years after How’s Inky? as Sam and his wife Giny arrive at their animal sanctuary to discover the young porcupines Salt and Pepper eagerly awaiting them. The two “porkies” are friendly, funny, and very mischievous especially when they want to play. But as the year progresses, Pepper answers the call of the wild while Salt continued to want human companionship. Most the book centers around the week-long visit of Carol, a young friend of the Campbells, who wants to experience the nature they describe in their lectures. The experiences, stories, and lessons that Sam and Giny show Carol—along with a dose of porcupine mischievousness—as best they can in a week the lessons nature has taught them over the years.

With this book being twice as long as the previous Living Forest book, Sam Campbell fills it numerous stories of past adventures and misadventures while also detailing Carol’s weeklong stay during which occurs most of his famous philosophy. Campbell uses an older Inky to be the mouthpiece of his lessons and teachings to the intended younger audience of the book, yet Inky’s “woodsy philosophy” can be very instructive to adults as well while not being preachy.

Though a longer read, Too Much Salt and Pepper is wonderful nature read and I highly recommend it readers of all ages.

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