Clark the Mountain Beaver has spent his life living quietly in his burrow. He has been shy and usually only ventures out at night, but one day, he decides he will have an adventure and leave his burrow during the day when most of the other critters are about.
What follows in Karen Shea’s new book Clark the Mountain Beaver and His Big Adventure is page after page of beautiful illustrations as Clark discovers not only what the outside world is all about, but he educates his new friends on just what a mountain beaver is. You see, Clark is constantly being confused with the more popular American Beaver, although he doesn’t have the long tail and is much smaller than his famous namesake, plus he lives underground in a burrow rather than building a lodge.
But despite any identity confusion he experiences on his adventure, Clark discovers that the world is full of fascinating creatures, most of whom are very friendly. Just a few of those friends include a mother deer and her two fawns and a busy squirrel family. The ducks, Mr. and Mrs. Quacker, are an amusing married couple, and then there’s Stella, the Steller’s Jay, who LOVES peanuts. Only the humans’ dog, Bridger, seems to pose a threat, though Clark is a bit unsure also about Hep, a bald eagle, when he first meets her, but he quickly wins Hep over by asking whether they can be friends and then explaining that friends don’t eat each other.
Author Karen Shea promises parents that the story “will take your child side-by-side with Clark as he learns about friendship, trust, and understanding that it is okay to be who you are.” That lesson is clear throughout the book, but most of all when Clark meets his final friend-Lewis, the American Beaver. Both of them are stunned to meet the other, and they quickly form a bond.
As an added bonus, Shea points out that it’s no coincidence that Clark and Lewis are named after the famous explorers. In fact, the Lewis & Clark expedition was responsible for misnaming the Mountain Beaver as a beaver. Shea gives a little history lesson about the expedition at the end of the book, complete with a map of the journey. She also includes facts about mountain beavers and a special page for children to record the various critters they discover in their own yard.
This book is certain to turn your child into a curious naturalist and an animal-lover. The beautiful illustrations by Kelly Halpin are worthy of a Disney cartoon. A coloring book, Clark the Mountain Beaver and His New Friends! is also available at the book’s website. I think even those famous explorers would have enjoyed this page-turning, colorful adventure.