Spirit in the Rainforest
Andrew Dewar was a graduate of the journalism program at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto, and on the staff of the North York Public Library.
Spirit in the Rainforest is one of the many mysteries Eric Wilson has written for young adults, basing them in various regions of Canada he feels are worth knowing about. His heroes, Tom and Liz Austen, travel around the country exploring and solving mysteries at the same time, and Wilson’s books are educational as well as good reading.
Spirit in the Rainforest sends the pair to Vancouver Island, where attempts to log a local island are causing mysterious trouble. In the process of solving the mystery, Tom and Liz learn a lot about rainforests, about the efforts of groups like Greenpeace to save them, and about whales, among other things — and so, of course, does the reader. Wilson prides himself on his research, and it certainly shows in this book — but not obtrusively.
The mystery itself is well-constructed and revolves around believable characters. A particularly clever reader might see through it, but that wouldn’t spoil the fun of the book because of its frequent side-trips into boat tripping, logging protests, and other adventures.
Wilson does preach a little toward the end; not only is this not offensive, it is not a bad idea. The rainforests and the whales do need to be protected, and Wilson is not afraid to say so. As a mystery alone this is a good book, and as an education it is very valuable indeed.