Lost in the Backyard is a survival story with a twist.
Most “survival” stories feature a young protagonist who astonishingly has all the skills and tools necessary to build a shelter, find food and survive until help arrives. Edmonton author, Alsion Hughes, puts a realistic spin on the genre with thirteen year old Flynn, who knows more about cell phones and video games and is “too cool” to dress in anything but a hoodie and running shoes despite the weather. His adventure begins when he decides to escape the adult talk, and take a walk in the woods behind his parents’ friends’ “off the grid” new home in the suburbs. As he comes to the end of the path and is about to turn back, “something huge and brown” charges out of the bushes, blocks his way; he turns and runs in the opposite direction until he is hopelessly disoriented, lost and confused, in addition to some bruises and cuts he gets as he stumbles through the underbrush. The story that unfolds is one of Flynn’s inept attempts to keep warm, find food, and avoid danger as a growing sense of weariness from three days in the cold begins to take over.
This is a good read for middle school students who enjoy the outdoors, suspenseful situations that have a satisfying ending, and those who rely on technology to answer all their questions. Hughes has established a believable character to whom young teens can relate, and Flynn’s internal dialogue gives the reader insights into his inner strengths, emotions and motives. There are humourous moments, and action enough to engage even reluctant readers.