Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk

Hi Everyone! It’s Becky. I have spent the last few weeks feverishly trying to read all the books getting award buzz. I just finished the audiobook of Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk which is getting Newbery buzz. This book adds an important story to the world of youth literature, and it may get notice by the Newbery Committee.

Title: Echo Mountain
Author: Lauren Wolk
Note: I listened to the audiobook.

Summary: Ellie’s family lost everything during the Great Depression and had to leave town to leave on Echo Mountain. Ellie takes their new simple life, but everything changes when her father has an accident that leaves him in a coma. Ellie will do whatever it takes to make her father wake up, even if it involves the town witch.

Review: Lauren Wolk broke into the children’s literature scene with the award-winning Wolf Hollow, and in many ways, Echo Mountain is very similar to her first book. Wolk revisits the early 1900s, but this time examines the impact of the Great Depression on one family. Wolk uses a gentle tone to introduce the experiences of Americans during the 1930s. Ellie is a strong and scrappy main character that is relatable and likable. She is reminiscent of a classic middle-grade heroine with a big heart and big dreams.  Echo Mountain also has a classic children’s literature message of not judging people based on their appearance or reputation. These two aspects of Echo Mountain are well done. However, as I listened to the audiobook, I couldn’t help but have a couple of issues. Throughout the novel, Ellie describes her connections with animals and how she can feel what animals feel, an interesting idea but one that is never really explored or explained. Also, I didn’t care for the ending that seemed a little convenient and tied up all the loose ends in a way that was a little too neat. It was almost as if Wolk was trying to write a much gentler version of Wolf Hollow but lost the realistic view of the World by making the book too child friendly. Yet, even with those issues, the book is a well-crafted historical fiction that young readers will enjoy.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5

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