"At the very tallest point there's a flat rock. I drop my pack in the snow and scramble up. Now I'm on the highest bit on the peak of the highest mountain for as far as I can see ... I can do my dance"
It is very easy to tell that Wendy Orr has climbed up and down a mountain or two and when I read the biographical notes at the back of Raven's Mountain this is indeed true. Wendy was born in Alberta and when she was twelve she climbed Pike's Peak in Colorado. You can see a picture here.
Raven, her sister Lily and step dad, Scott, set out to climb a mountain near Jenkins Creek. The family, including mum who is working on this day, have moved and this is the area of Scott's childhood. He keen to share his favourite spots with his new family. The journey up the mountain goes smoothly but there is an undertone of animosity between Lily and Raven. This comes from the loss of their father who abandoned the family and moved to Australia (Wendy herself now lives in Australia). Lily blames Raven, Raven is filled with confusion and now has also lost her closest friends because they have moved.
The group are well prepared for their mountain climb and Scott even teaches the girls how to use a bear repellent spray because bears live on this mountain.
When they reach the top Raven races ahead and does a little wild dance of joy. This dislodges some rocks and causes a landslide. Scott and Lily are trapped and so Raven must find her way, without her glasses, down the mountain to call for help. Lily and Scott have most of the supplies, the phone and water bottles and this is a very remote area.
The disaster and Raven's courage help heal the rift between Lily and Raven and the hurtful comments of the past are explained and forgiven.
"The strange thing is Lily never has anything much wrong with her at all. Until she turned into a witch, she'd always been a kind of golden girl ... The problem with being three years younger is that I never catch up; by the time I can do something too, Lily's doing something else even better."
If you enjoy Raven's mountain I would look for The Honest Truth. Raven's Mountain is not a new book it was first published in 2010 but it might still be in a library near you. You could also look for other books by Wendy Orr including Nim's Island, Ark in the Park and her newest titles Dragonfly Song which is actually on my current 'to read' pile. Here is an interview where Wendy talks about story and a life where 'stuff happens'. In Canada this book has a different title and cover.