My enormous thanks to Roderick O’Grady for sending me a copy of his middle grade children’s book Bigfoot Mountain in return for an honest review. I’m delighted to share that review today.
Published by Firefly on 29th April 2021, Bigfoot Mountain is available for purchase in all the usual places including here.
The book explores family, friendship, dealing with loss and the importance of protecting the environment. This will sweep you away to the mountains for a wild adventure.’ The Week Junior Book of the Week
Minnie and her stepfather, Dan, are stuck in their small cabin at the foot of the mountain struggling to come to terms with the death of her mother – and each other. But when Minnie and her friend Billy discover four giant footprints on a mountain trail, everything changes.
Kaayii and his clan have to move across the mountain to escape huge forest fires, but find their ancient paths blocked by new holiday cabins… As Minnie and Kaayii’s paths unexpectedly entwine, can they help each other, and heal their families?
My Review of Bigfoot Mountain
Minnie’s about to have an adventure.
Bigfoot Mountain is a charming children’s story with added depths that would make it perfect for home or classroom reading. Firstly, it’s an exciting story with adventure, peril and responsibility woven into the story as Minnie encounters the Bigfoot tribe. The two strands of the narrative from Minnie and then Kaayii’s perspectives come together in a very satisfying manner making Bigfoot Mountain an enormously pleasing read.
However, aside from a narrative that engages and captivates because it is action packed and entertaining, there’s so much more to Bigfoot Mountain. The themes are perfect for middle grade children because Roderick O’Grady introduces conflict, family, friendship and the environment in a way that educates at the same time. There are wonderful descriptions of the natural world and illustrations at the end of the book that help bring those descriptions to life. They would make an excellent catalyst for further research and study too, as would the Bigfoot story with children perhaps finding out about local myths and legends close to their own homes.
Further still, is the wonderful exploration of grief. Minnie’s mother’s death impacts the story so that children can explore their own grief and come too understand how their feelings are natural and acceptable. This theme also illustrates for young readers that adults have similar feelings and find them just as difficult to manage. I found myself wiping away a tear on a couple of occasions.
Minnie and Dan are not a conventional nuclear family, as Dan is Minnie’s step father, so that children in modern family units can identify with them and feel their own families are normal whatever their components. I really appreciated the way in which Minnie is the major character, giving status to children in an adult world and to females in general. The friendship she has with the younger Billy also exemplifies how we can make friends across a range of age groups, but perhaps the most important aspect here is her awareness of Kaayii. Here Roderick O’Grady makes clear, without preaching, that it is possible to embrace difference, to live harmoniously and to be kind to one another. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of Bigfoot Mountain.
But Bigfoot Mountain isn’t just for children. Roderick O’Grady’s narrative also reminds adults to consider their impact on the environment, to reignite their childlike awareness of nature and joy in life, and to be open to new possibilities and truths. As someone half a century older than the target audience I found the writing moving, educational and important. I think Bigfoot Mountain has resonance and relevance for readers of all ages; for now, and in the future. I loved it.
About Roderick O’Grady
After embarking on an acting career in London, Roderick O’Grady moved to New York in the nineties. After some success off Broadway and in the US soap ‘As the World Turns’ he returned home with a wife and two children. His stage play, ‘A Foolish Fancy, How Not to get Ahead in the Theatre’ was a Time Out Critics Choice on the London Fringe. Bigfoot Mountain is his first novel.