As a young boy lies awake in his tent worrying about starting at a new school in the fall, he hears the voice of an elk named Rusty. Rusty needs help searching for her Uncle Todd, who left home many months ago. Once Mom wakes up and learns of Rusty’s plight, the three pile into the car and set off on a grand road trip all around Alberta. Jasper Park, Lake Louise and the Badlands are just a few of the many stops they make.
They hike on a glacier, attend the Calgary Stampede and visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum. But alas, all good things must come to an end and eventually Mom figures out where Uncle Todd must be. So after a fun-filled day at the Waterpark in the Edmonton Mall, they say goodbye to Rusty at Elk Island National Park. And that night as the boy lies awake in his tent once more, he knows that “of all the adventures I have had, this was my favourite one.”
This lively romp across Alberta with an elk who tries to disguise herself as a boy (by wearing his clothing) is a fun-filled adventure tale. Told in rollicking rhyme, the story would work well as a read-aloud in spite of the fact that the rhythm falters in a few spots. The cartoony style of illustrations capture the joyful energy of the text, with flat colours layered upon one another to create a sense of depth, and sketchy outlines that further enhance the story’s playful tone.
As the boy and his mom discover the wonders of their new prairie home, readers too will learn about these various Albertan highlights. Hopefully when fall rolls around and our young protagonist must start school, his memories of this amazing road trip and his new friend Rusty will give him courage.
I Met an Elk in Edson Once
Dave Kelly, illustrated by Wes Tyrell
MacIntyre Purcell Publishing