Trusting True North

­Shadow Mountain. Apr. 2022. 176p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781629729916.
Gr 4-6–A gentle narrative centered around a lockdown similar to that of spring 2020, although the nature of this pandemic is simply called the “virus.” Fifth grader True North Vincent is struggling with the burden of e-learning, isolation from her fellow classmates, and being there for her family. She designs elaborate treasure hunts for her younger brother, Georgie, who has asthma. She has worries aplenty when it comes to the vulnerability of her family to the virus. In addition to Georgie, her elderly grandmother is still recovering from cancer, her dad is a nurse at the local hospital, and her mother has been unable to return from Canada due to border shutdowns. True is especially adept at creating maps, thanks to her mom’s occupation as a cartographer. Exploring an area that her grandmother had warned her to avoid, True and Georgie discover some newborn kittens, as well as a new classmate with a bad reputation named Kyler. True’s perceptions are challenged when she sees Kyler’s care in looking after the newborn kittens. Things quickly come to a head when one of the kittens becomes seriously ill, and Kyler’s mother catches the dreaded virus. True must make some very mature decisions and pay dearly for her wrong choices. This is a sincere and accurate portrayal of a potent time in the world, accurately reflecting the fear and insecurity the world felt before the discovery of the vaccinations. The story moves along at a tender pace and draws readers in with True’s fears and strength as she navigates such vulnerability.
VERDICT An interesting, map-driven account of a fifth grader’s struggles to protect her family during lockdown.

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