The Cry of the Loon

Written in 2009 by Barbara Steiner, illustrated by Jean-Paul Tibbles


It's summer again, and Samantha, Nellie, Bridget, and Jenny are going to spend some of it at Grandmary's summer house in the Adirondacks. Uncle Gard and Aunt Cornelia are staying in New York City with the newborn son, William Samuel.

Samantha is excited to show the cabin to her new sisters and wants them to create lots of happy memories together, so she's a little worried that the caretakers' sons will get in the way. But she's soon distracted from that by the talk of Grandmary possibly selling the cabin! With her birthday coming up, Grandmary is feeling her age, mores when she slips and injures her ankle. Samantha is suspicious, thinking someone tampered with the stairs Grandmary fell on. Perhaps someone trying to convince her to sell...

There are some other accidents, like a small fire and a tree falling. And when out exploring, Samantha and her sisters happen upon a painter with what looks like a surveyor's map of Grandmary's property, drawn up into lots. Even worse, when the girls return to the cabin, Grandmary is meeting with a man to discuss a possible sale! And then the canoe Samantha and Nellie are in--which passed a safety check the day before--springs a leak and the girls narrowly avoid disaster. The painter is fortunately nearby, and he rescues them. Things calm down for a bit, enough that Samantha and Grandmary have a nice bonding moment during which Grandmary tells her about how as a young woman she had two suitors clamoring for her attentions. Samantha starts to relax and think that maybe the accidents were all just accidents. Until Grandmary's birthday, anyway. During the celebration, the painter reveals himself as the suitor Grandmary didn't choose, and then the cabin breaks out in flames. The caretakers are able to put it out, but it was pretty clearly arson.

So at first it seems like the painter might be out for revenge or something, but when Samantha and Nellie see a figure stealing away in the night, they follow. They overhear a conversation and after getting caught eavesdropping, locked in an ice shed, and finally rescued, they're able to tell the Admiral and Grandmary that the caretaker was working with a buyer to make all the little "accidents" happen, in hopes of getting Grandmary to sell. Both men are quickly caught by the painter and the Admiral. The caretaker's family, who also work at the cabin, knew nothing of the plot, so Grandmary agrees to let them stay on, in the cabin she won't be selling.

Looking Back

The Adirondacks have enjoyed a long history as a resort area. In America's youth, it was an exotic, secluded retreat area that was difficult if not impossible to reach without a guide. As time went on, it became more and more developed, until people feared the wilderness would be completely eradicated. By Samantha's time, a portion of the land bigger than the entire state of Massachusetts had been set aside as a preserve, but the people in the area still had to balance preserving the sights while allowing access for them to been seen.


This book is dedicated to Meghan Kane, "the toughest, hardest-working girl I know."

In The Stolen Sapphire, Samantha and Nellie start calling Grandmary's second husband Grand-pere, French for Grandfather. But now they're back to calling him Admiral. Grandmary calls him Archie.

Nellie is stunned at the size of their cabin, saying it's like a mansion in the woods. I remember the first time I saw my husband's grandparents "cabin" in Idaho...it's a regular house, and a big one. By contrast, my cousins have a cabin in northern Arizona, and while it has plumbing and electricity, it looks like a proper log cabin.

Nellie earns money by tutoring fellow students at her school.

Oh, Grandmary's first name is Mary. That explains her being called Grandmary rather than Grandma or something else. Too bad this book was published after my cousin's kids were born; my aunt Mary was wondering what to be called.

Samantha says that last summer she was alone at the cabin a lot, but Agnes and Agatha visited her then. Although, they weren't there the whole summer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about why she was call grandmary, that's such a cool idea.