Move over Boxcar Children, the Mighty Muskrats are on the case!
I highly recommend this enjoyable story and exciting mystery set in present day Canada. Realistic, multifaceted protagonists Chickadee, Otter, Atim and Samuel are inseparable cousins. They are known all over their reservation as “the mighty muskrats,” a nickname given to them by their oldest uncle.
Their first case involves the disappearance of a white archeologist, who was hired by the non-native mining company to survey the area for mine expansion. The muskrat’s older cousin Denice is fiercely protective of her community and is worried the mining operations will endanger the clean water supply. She says, “This theft of our history and our resources and our ceremony has to stop!” Her grandfather recognizes her radical actions as her vision quest and he and the muskrats support her activist awakening.
The mighty muskrats conduct interviews, search the internet, and use their knowledge of the land to solve the mystery. The people of the fictional Windy Lake First Nation are portrayed as a complex group, normalizing indigenous community life in a relatable way. Elders are respected, even as the youth make mistakes and sometimes ask too many questions. Hutchinson’s excellent descriptions of interpersonal relationships and natural settings add to the thought-provoking narrative.
This book is the winner of the Second Story Press Indigenous Writing Contest and a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selection. The author, Michael Hutchinson, is a Swampy Cree and citizen of the Misipawistik Cree Nation in the Treaty 5 territory, north of Winnipeg, Manitoba and the audiobook is read by Kaniehtiio Horn, a Canadian actress from Kahnawake, the Mohawk reserve outside of Montreal. Other titles in the series are The Case of the Missing Auntie, The Case of the Burgled Bundle, and coming in September 2022, The Case of the Rigged Race. Books 1 and 3 available on eAudiobook through Wisconsin’s digital library on the Libby app.