The Case of Windy Lake

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I enjoyed reading this. An interesting story with fun characters. Well written.
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The Boxcar Children for Today’s Generation

The Elders call the four cousins the Mighty Muskrats, because they wrestle, play, argue, and laugh like a family of muskrats. Otter, Atim, Sam, and Chickadee live in the Windy Lake First Nations in Canada. 

They help their grandfather, a respected Elder, and hunt for adventure. When an elderly archeologist goes missing, the members of the nation feel torn between joining the rescue effort and their feelings of betrayal at the hands of another ‘bone digger’ decades ago. 

The Mighty Muskrats decide to take on the task of locating the missing man, and they’ll have to use everything at their disposal. The Internet AND the wisdom of their elders. Readers will cheer for the four cousins as they piece together the clues and use their skills to help rescue effort. 

Will they find the archeologist before he dies from exposure in the bush? And how can they aid the effort AND keep the Nation’s sacred sites sacred? 

Why I Love this Book

I teach at a school for Native Americans, and we’re always desperate to find good stories written by Natives. I can’t wait to tell our librarian about this book! Although the setting is on a First Nations Rez in Canada, our students will relate to just about everything in the book—with the exception of the Canadian colloquialisms, such as ‘Kay,’ for o.k. 

I loved reading the Boxcar Children books out loud to students when I first started teaching. My English as a Second Language students found the reading level accessible

Hutchinson has moments of pure beauty in language as he describes things in nature. These moments help offset the few heavy-handed repetitions (the two paragraphs about government housing read almost word-for-word).

Native readers will appreciate the juxtaposition of modern with ancient and the conclusions the characters draw about the marriage of the old ways and modern society. Non-Native readers will find the characters and setting engaging. Hopefully, reading the book will engender more questions than answers.

Middle-grade and younger young adult readers will relate to the characters. The reading level averages about 3rd-4th grade—perfect for older students with a lower reading level. Parents will appreciate the lack of violence. A few of the secondary characters use mild expletives (damn and hell).
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The Case of Windy Lake by Michael Hutchinson

The Case of Windy Lake by Michael Hutchinson is the first book in a series for middle schooler called the Mighty Muskrats Mysteries.  The series is about four cousins who together help solve mysteries with the guidance of their grandfathers words of wisdom. The setting is a Windy Lake First Nation.  They have a secret fort made of an old school bus and spend time everyday helping their grandfather out.  

Sam, Otter, Atim and Chickadee make up the Mighty Muskrats and they are searching for a missing archeologist, but along the way they deal with various family members and learning about their heritage. The storyline is clever with lots to help a young person learn about the Windy Lake First Nation.  

The story may capture middle schoolers attention with the adventure and the mystery.  It is a book I would recommend to several students who enjoy those genres. I found the book interesting and believe the adventure would help capture youngsters.
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How great it is to have a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys/Trixie Belden/Bobbsey Twins kind of middle grade mystery featuring First Nations kids?! It's modern (I'm totally jealous of their clubhouse) and more realistic than those older mystery books, but it also incorporates traditional beliefs. This feels like it's geared more toward the older end of the middle grade range. Smart and fun!
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I really enjoyed The Case of Windy Lake and would highly recommend it to any older elementary school or young middle school student. The mystery at the center of the plot was engaging and relevant and would give young readers a lot to discuss especially in terms of discussing the history of First Nations/Indigenous peoples. I also learned a great deal about the culture of First Nations People in a way that was not didactic, but was woven into the plot and to the characters’ backgrounds. Although this is obviously a new book, the structure reminded me of classic mystery series like Nancy Drew, but with better cultural representation and more current humor. This book is funny, engaging, and heartwarming and would be excellent for a classroom teacher looking for literature with more diverse character representation or as a supplement to a unit on the culture or history of indigenous peoples.
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Everything about this book blurb interests me, especially a character named Chickadee. I've always liked reading about Native Americans, and from what I researched, the First Nations are Canadian Indians. Plus, I'm working on reading more mystery books.


I have very mixed emotions about this book, and the negative emotions are the most important in this case (which is not normal for me with reviews) so I'll start with that one. 

There was swearing in the book. The words weren't "strong" enough to make me stop reading it (and I am pretty strict about what I read), but they were enough to lower my rating no matter who the book was meant for. But, considering that the book was written for children? I understand that not everyone views minor swearing the way I do, but it was enough that I won't recommend the book. 

And now for the rest of the review: I actually liked the book a fair amount, it was interesting enough that it made me want to keep reading other books in the series to see if they were clean. 

Although the mystery didn't garner my imagination like it probably would have as a kid, I really enjoyed the worldbuilding and culture that the story was soaked in. So many books I read are about people from the USA, so to read a book from the perspective of Native Canadians? That was cool. 

The clubhouse that the kids had was also super cool and that in itself was enough to make me want to read more from their perspective. 


I might eventually read more books from the author, although probably not for review since I had to give this one such a low rating. 


I’m giving The Case of Windy Lake 2 out of 5 stars.

((I got this book from NetGalley so I could review it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))
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What a lovely and well written mystery!
It took me back to when I use to read the Three Investigators, it was great to read a mystery for children so well written and engaging.
I think it can be appreciated by both adults and children.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC
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The Case of Windy Lake
by Michael Hutchinson
Second Story Press
Children's Fiction
Pub Date 18 Mar 2019

I am reviewing a copy of The Case of Windy Lake through Second Story Press and Netgalley:

Sam, Otter, Atim and Chickadee are four cousins growing up on the Windy Lake Nation.  The four cousins are indeperable.  They are even nicknamed the Mighty Muskrats because they have a habit of laughin, fighting as well as going on adventures together.

The cousins soon discover that each new exploit adds to their reputation.  When a visiting archaeologist goes missing, the cousins decide to solve the mystery of his disappearance.  In the middle of community conflict, enviromental protests as well as family concerns the four start to follow every lead from their base of operation a fort made out of an old school bus.

I give The Case of Windy Lake five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
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The Case of the Windy Lake is a great opening book for a series about The Mighty Muskrats. In an environment where stories about present-day First Nations communities is essential for providing young readers of all backgrounds with empathy and understanding about these communities, Hutchinson's book is an open door into the strength, history, and culture of this First Nations community. I thoroughly enjoyed the depth and humanity of each character and it was fun to be along for the ride of the mystery.
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The Mighty Muskrats are four cousins that live on the Windy Lake First Nation Reservation together. They are always hanging out together, finding something to keep them busy. When an archeologist goes missing near the lake the kids are determined to find him. 
This was a fun little mystery series. I enjoyed the Indian culture and story.
Thank you to Second Story Press and NetGalley for this ARC, in exchange for my honest review, my opinions are my own.
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I grew up reading some of my older sister's Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books, hence, I was kind of excited when I saw this new detective theme type of book from the publisher. The Muskrats are four middle-graders who belong to one of the First Nation tribe in Canada. The group is consists of brothers Atim who is the oldest and largest and his brother Attim who sometimes acts as the leader, and together with their cousins Otter, the smallest but toughest and the only girl, Chickadee, they are the Windy Lake's youngest detectives. 

In this book, they have to solve the case of the missing archaeologist, Dr. Troy Pixton, who was hired by a mining company and is perceived to be an anti-Indian. Their Uncle Levi who is a police in the Windy Lake Police Service was in charge of the case and the Muskrats tries to help him by figuring out the sudden disappearance of the doctor and where he could possibly be found.

Although this is a short book to read, it took me two nights to finish it because I got sleepy while I was reading. I even had to re-read the first 12 chapters because I can't remember what I've read in those parts. Nonetheless, what I like in the story is how it takes pride in being a part of the First Nation tribe and giving importance to the culture and tradition of their ancestors. Although it was not a memorable story, most probably that other readers will like and appreciate this tale.
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When I was a kid, back in the Stone Age, I loved to read Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Detectives.  Later, when I was studying Chidlren’s Literatures, I read Encyclopieda Brown.

The point of all the above is that all the kid detectives are distrinctly White and middle or upper class.  If you weren’t White or of that class, then, well, you could enjoy the stories but you wouldn’t think that you would have these sorts of adventures.

I and others have said this many, many times. Representation matters.  It really does.  For example, I was, and still am short and overweight.  None of the heroines of my youth looked that way. I had to write my own stories of girls like that, to read stories like that. (And I wrote a lot of very bad fiction as a teenager).

So, this story is about three boys and a girl who are called the Mighty Muskrats. They are considered to be a bit underfoot, but they respect their elders on the reserve of Windy Lake (Reserve being the name that is given for the First Nation’s people’s land, much as Reservation is used in the US).

An archeologist has gone missing, and the kids try to solve the mystery of where he went, but their grandfather tells them to think as the animals do, as the birds do, to solve the mystery.

Told with a mix of modern, as the kids have access to the internet, plus knowledge of their elders, this is a wonderful mix of contemporary life, with four First Nation protagonists behaving, well, like kids do.

Chickadee, Samual, Otter and Atim are good detectives, and hopefully this book will do well enough that we can have further adventures.

Michael Hutchinson, the author is a citizen of the Mispawistik Cree Nation in the Treaty 5 Territory. He said he wrote this book to instill pride in Indigenous youth and educate others about First Nation communities, beliefs and opinions.

Highly recommend this book for everyone. Hopefully the start of a great series.

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
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