The Sasquatch Escape: The Imaginary Veterinary, Book 1

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Sasquatch Escape: The Imaginary Veterinary, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Quirky fantasy adventure perfect for Magic Tree House grads.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

There's a primer in sasquatch lore, both in the story and in an afterword, which can be compared to other accounts of the mysterious beast -- not every bigfoot expert would agree they love chocolate, for example. The afterward also includes the lore surrounding wyverns (Welsh dragons). Plus a look at what happens to a small town when a factory closes -- young people move away, small businesses suffer.

Positive Messages

Acceptance of change in life, ingenuity, bravery, and friendship. Busybodies are frowned upon; keeping big secrets, for better or worse, is the condition by which the main characters get what they want.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ben may be disappointed that he has to spend the summer with his grandfather while his parents work on their relationship problems, but he doesn't sulk about it. He makes a friend right away, thinks to help his grandpa with chores, and doesn't complain about grandpa's eating habits, even though they vary greatly from how he eats at home in LA. Pearl is known for being a bit of a troublemaker and once acts a bit impulsively, but she also displays ingenuity and self-confidence.

Violence & Scariness

Ben is warned not to let the sasquatch get angry, and he never does, but the beast still causes mischief, tipping over the elderly in their chairs and vandalizing property. A baby imaginary creature is injured and treated. Two people are trapped in a net and released. A doctor's missing finger and scars indicate how dangerous her job is. Ben and Pearl sign a paper saying they won't blame the doctor if they incur any number of injuries from contact with dangerous animals.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Sasquatch Escape is the first book in the delightful Imaginary Veterinary series. The Sasquatch Escape has been on many Battle of the Books lists for grades 3 to 5, but it's also very accessible to younger kids who have graduated from slimmer chapter book series such as the Magic Tree House. The content is equally mild, with the sasquatch causing some minor mischief and another imaginary creature being injured and taken in for treatment. However, a doctor's missing finger and scars indicate that her job with imaginary creatures can get dangerous. Ben, the main character, may be disappointed that he has to spend the summer with his grandfather while his parents work on their relationship problems, but he doesn't sulk about it. Right away he makes a friend who works at the Dollar Store, thinks to help his grandpa with chores, and doesn't complain about how life with grandpa in a small town is different from his life in LA. His friend Pearl is known for being a troublemaker and once acts a bit impulsively, but she also displays ingenuity and self-confidence.

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What's the story?

In THE SASQUATCH ESCAPE, Ben's not so sure about Buttonville when he first arrives to spend the summer with his grandfather. After the closure of the button factory years ago, it's turned into a pretty sleepy town. On his ride in from the airport, Ben notices all the shuttered downtown businesses and is worried he's going to have a sleepy, boring summer -- that is, until he sees a huge bird with a long tail up in the sky. Just as his grandfather stops the car, the "bird" disappears. Ben thinks he's seeing things until he spots a girl leaning out her second-story window with the same wide eyes. She looks at Ben and mouths "dragon" as he drives by. Ben thinks she's crazy until the next day, when his grandpa's cat deposits an injured creature onto his bed; it's a miniature fire-breathing version of what he spotted in the sky. Add to that rumors of a new worm hospital in the old button factory (worm hospital?!) and the weird guy ahead of him in the grocery store line ordering 2,000 boxes of kiwi jelly beans before dropping a recipe for dragon milk, and Ben's summer is turning out way more interesting than he expected -- especially when he and his new friend Pearl, the girl who also saw the dragon, decide to take Ben's new injured pet to what is most definitely not a worm hospital.

Is it any good?

With mystery, humor, and a plot that moves as fast as a sasquatch racing down a hill in a shopping cart, this is a great choice for readers not quite ready for the longer fantasy chapter books. The Sasquatch Escape moves quickly from the main character's funk over a summer with grandpa to him spotting a dragon, making a new friend, and eventually going on a mission to return a wayward bigfoot. Readers will be hooked by the first dragon sighting, but it's when Ben and Pearl unpack the Sasquatch Catching Kit that they'll know they're in for a real adventure. Each item is a wonderful clue to the mayhem that will ensue. Chapters entitled "Hairy Escape," "Hairy Pudding," and "Hairy Return" and expressive illustrations by Dan Santat (including the hilarious sketch of a sasquatch joyriding in a shopping cart) add to the fun.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the danger Ben and Pearl face in The Sasquatch Escape. Were you worried when they signed the release form describing all the injuries they might get hunting the sasquatch? Did you feel better when they opened the Sasquatch Catching Kit? How much scary stuff should books for kids have?

  • So many mysteries pop up in a hurry, especially when Ben meets Mr. Tabby at the grocery store. Does wanting to know the answer to something make you want to read an entire book? What mysteries were solved in this book? What questions do you still have?

  • Will you read the next in this series? For readers of the paperback, did you read the sneak-peek first chapter of Book 2 at the end of The Sasquatch Escape? Why do you think the publishers included that?

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