Childrens Books

New children’s book teaches friendship while educating about history and animals

Clark the mountain beaver has spent his life quietly living 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 creatures are around.

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 not only discovers what the outside world is like, but educates his new friends about what is a mountain beaver. You see, Clark is constantly mistaken for America’s most popular 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 during his adventure, Clark discovers that the world is full of fascinating creatures, most of whom are very friendly. A few of those friends include a mother deer and her two fawns and a busy family of squirrels. The ducks, Mr. and Mrs. Quacker, make a fun 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 also a little unsure about Hep, a bald eagle, when he first meets her, but he quickly wins over Hep by asking her if they can be friends, then explaining that friends don’t eat each other.

Author Karen Shea promises parents that the story “will bring your child side-by-side with Clark as they learn friendship, trust, and the understanding that it’s okay to be who you are.” This lesson is clear throughout the book, but especially when Clark meets his latest friend, Lewis the American Beaver. The two are stunned to meet and they quickly form a bond.

As a 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 on the expedition at the end of the book, complete with a map of the trip. It also includes facts about mountain beavers and a special page for kids to record the different creatures they discover in their own backyard.

This book is sure to turn your child into an inquisitive naturalist and animal lover. Kelly Halpin’s beautiful illustrations are worthy of a Disney cartoon. A coloring book, Clark the mountain beaver and his new friends! is also available on the book’s website. I think even those famous explorers would have enjoyed this colorful, page-turning adventure.

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