Cover Image: The Case of the Missing Auntie

The Case of the Missing Auntie

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Member Reviews

Great fast book. I learned a lot and now I really want to read the first book. Thankful for this #ownvoices text!
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The Mighty Muskrats head to the city to spend a week with their Aunt and cousins. Otter and Chickadee have never visited a city before. Their cousins Samuel and Atim have spent time there, and everyone looks to Samuel, the eldest, to look after the others as they visit the Exhibition Fair and explore the big city. 

Each has a mission in mind as they near their destination—Sam and Atim can’t wait to see the Ex, Otter wants to get a ticket to Wavoka’s Wail, and Chickadee wants to help their grandpa find his missing sister. When Chickadee shares her mission with the boys, they agree that all of them should use their talents to help their Elder—but after they first help Otter get tickets to see his dream band and favorite artist, Lolly Leach. 

As the four cousins settle in to explore and carry out their missions, they discover treachery, disappointment, and new ways of thinking about the world. They also uncover clues to their missing great aunt.

Why You’ll Love This Book

If you loved the Boxcar Children books, you’ll love this series about the Mighty Muskrats, four self-reliant cousins from the Windy Lake First Nation’s preserve in Canada. In the first book, they helped find a lost archeologist by putting their knowledge of tracking and human nature to work. 

The second book sets them in the urban wilderness, where danger lurks around every corner. Along the way, they learn more about the residential school system that separated hundreds of thousands of First Native children from their families. The author shows readers how the harmful system hurt everyone. 

While dealing with sensitive topics, Hutchinson uses sensitive strokes to explain that Canadians (and all of us) can do better in our attempts to reconcile the past with the present. Like the Mighty Muskrats, I too, have visited a truth and reconciliation museum—the stories I experienced there caused me to weep, while at the same time spark hope within me that we can learn from our past mistakes and create a better future. 

Parents, teachers, librarians, and history professors need to read these books and share them liberally with the young people in their lives. We all need to remember Grandpa’s words, “‘It’s good to build a better life for your children. But you must always respect others’ rights to build a better life for their children. To do that they must have their own languages, laws, and lands.’”
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This is the second in a series of mysteries about a group of Indigenous youth who solve mysteries. I have to confess that I missed the first one, but saw this one and wanted to read a MG by a Canadian Indigenous author.

The case that the group, named The Mighty Muskrats, was trying to solve centered around finding their Grandpa's sister who was "scooped" by the government when they were young. Finding themselves in the city, they feel it is a great opportunity to help their Grandpa get re-united with his relative, but they also have goals of seeing a concert and attending the Exhibition. These goals distract them from their case for a while, and this is part of them discovering the difficulty of being in a city. 

The difficulties of city life, and how it changes some people turned out to be one of the most important parts of this book that some readers (especially those with rural backgrounds) will relate to. Residential schools, and the scoop are also very important topics that are dealt with in a way that young readers will learn lots. The characters are typically positive role models, but there are also some that are quite the opposite and the details in the development of characters is good although, I think I would have been better served to have read the first book in this instance.

This is a book that provides Indigenous main characters and covers important topics for all Canadian youth to read such as the Scoop, and Residential schools, and does so in a positive way and in a size that most readers in intermediate grades can handle. I would love to be able to add this to my library soon.
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A really interesting handling of a heavy topic, in a children's book. A solid presentation of one episode of Canada's egregious history with its First Nations.
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First, I love that this mystery series exists at all.  Kids from a First Nation reserve solving mysteries. Perfect. Tackling important issues while doing so? Even better. 

I loved the first book in the series, where the kids seemed quite natural, and the mystery unfolded as it should.

This second book, however, felt a little stiff. The mystery of the missing auntie kept getting shoved back, to address other issues, such as how hard it is to be true to yourself in the city, vs the reserve. I was also a bit surprised that the kids didn't know quite as much about residency school, and were shocked at what they learned. But, perhaps this was done more for the audience to teach them about the horrors.

I did like that the bureaucracy was not filled with horrible people, at least not all of them were horrible.

I did like the part about riding the bus during rush hour. As a short person, it is hard to get around in an over crowded bus, and I too would probably have exited too soon, simply because I couldn't see out the windows.

I still love the concept of the series, and will continue to read them, as long as Michael writes them. 

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
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A trip to the city leads to a new mystery for the Mighty Muskrats!

Before leaving Windy Lakes for a week in the city, Chickadee asks the cousins' grandfather what he might like them to bring back from the trip. The answer is shocking: Grandpa would like to find his little sister. Charlotte was lost in the Sixties Scoop--when many Indigenous children were stolen from their families and reservations, taken to residential schools or adopted to white families as a form of forced assimilation. Chickadee and the other Muskrats don't know where to begin their search in the big, intimidating city. And when an old friend enters the picture, things become even more complicated. Is this case too big for the Muskrats?

Move over Boxcar Children and all other adolescent detectives, the Mighty Muskrats are making their mark on the genre and the world. Hutchinson doesn't flinch from addressing hard topics--the aforementioned Sixties Scoop, the deplorable treatment of Indigenous children in residential schools, poverty, racism, and more--and presents the information in a way for kids (and adults!) to comprehend easily, despite how large and heavy those topics may be. Chickadee, Atim, Otter and Samuel work together to find their missing auntie, echoing the real-world struggle of First Nations Canadians in finding their own lost family and--by proxy--lost culture and heritage.

Very interested to see what mysteries continue to await the Mighty Muskrats and what adventures they'll have in Windy Lakes and beyond!
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Earc from netgalley,

the writing seemed kind of stiff in this one, at least when I was first reading it. nice topic, just not sure I like the way it was presented.
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The "Mighty Muskrats" are a group of young people who solve mysteries and The Case of the Missing Auntie is their second series-outing. They're on their way to attend an Exhibition in the city, but they've also learned that, years ago, their grandfather's little sister was adopted by strangers through a process referred to as "scooping." These children were adopted without their families' consent and they essentially disappeared - forever separated from their families and communities. So even while excitement looms for the city's offerings, the Mighty Muskrats decide to try and solve what happened to Grandpa's missing sister. Along the way, they learn some hard lessons about betrayal by someone they trust, as well as gain some unexpected allies. This book would be a great option among students who enjoy reading genre fiction, especially stories in which the mysteries are tackled by a team of sleuths.
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This book (which is clearly part of series, although prior familiarity with the series is not at all necessary) follows a series of Indigenous Canadian cousins as they investigate the case of their missing Great Aunt who was victim of the 60s scoop. The mystery often takes a backseat to a subplot focused on a former reservation kid and the question of how people adapt to living in large, impersonal cities. It was a quick and engaging read and managed to touch on a number of very difficult topics in thoughtful ways that were both age appropriate and encouraged reflection. I'll be looking for the rest of this series and trying to add it to our collection at work.
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I admit, I still watch cartoons if they're good cartoons. And earlier this year PBS debuted a dynamite new story, MOLLY OF DENALI, about a Native Alaskan girl and her family and friends. The series opened with a sobering story called "Grandpa's Drum," about Molly's Grandpa Nat, who hasn't sung with the tribe since his childhood, and what happens when Molly finds out why.

This, the second in a new series by Cree author Hutchinson, revolves around four children, Samuel, Chickadee, Atin, and Otter, cousins who call themselves "the Mighty Muskrats," who live on the Windy Lake reservation, and the plot revolves around a similar story: Chickadee's grandfather admits to her that his younger sister Charlotte was taken away from his family in the late 1950s in what they called "scoops"—native children who were adopted (mostly to act as servants) for white people. Now with the Muskrats heading into the big city to go to an exhibition fair, a disturbed Chickadee thinks their first mission should be to try to track down their missing auntie, but the boys are full of anticipation about visiting cousins, going to the fair, and Otter just wants to see his favorite Native band perform.

No sooner are the kids at the much vaunted mall in the crowded, confusing city that they run into Brett, a boy who used to live on the "rez" and who Chickadee secretly had a crush on., and things start to go a little haywire. But Chickadee is still determined, no matter what, to find missing Aunt Charlotte.

This reads like an old-fashioned kids' adventure—the covers even look like a Happy Hollisters book—with modern sensibilities (internet, cell phones, etc.), real-life problems (Native people still coping with terrible laws once enacted by white settlers), and the problems of a usually-overlooked culture. The kids meet good and bad people of all cultures, cope with bureaucracy, find out some hard truths about their past, but also that they can help overcome it.

Maybe because I didn't read the first book the kids don't seem to be as individually fleshed out as I'd like, except for Chickadee (I still don't think I know how old each of them are, except that Atin is the eldest). Otherwise I found this really enjoyable, and a great way to introduce non-Native children to one aspect of Native culture. (The story is set in Canada, but the "residential homes" mentioned were just like the "Indian schools" like that in Carlisle, PA, which ended up with such an evil reputation, and for good reason.)
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This book got me out of a reading slump and that is all I can ask for in a book. 
5/5 stars is an easy rating to give this book because it deserves every star. I usually have to buffer my criticism of MG works, but for this one it was so good I don't have to do that at all. 

Indigenous Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew is basically what I would pitch this as, and it does a great job doing exactly that and more. I didn't read the first book in the series (but I am definitely going to be getting it in the future), and I felt like this book is easy to jump into without having read the first one. There are references to the first book, but more so in the form of callbacks than like important plot information. 

Basically the Muskrats are in the big city with the mission to go to the Ex... and find their grandpa's sister who went missing during the Sixties Scoop (when Canada was basically sending off First Nations kids to any white family that wanted to them, by stealing them from their real parents/family). It does a good job breaking down what residential schools were, and the Sixties Scoop is in a language that is easy to understand. This would be a great book to act as like an introduction to what both of those are. It covers them without going into the worst aspects off it or the nitty gritty, while still being realistic to what happened and being respectful about the situation (you know, not glossing over it or making it seem happier than it actually was). 

I liked all the Muskrats so much, though I am biased to Chickadee. I felt that there was a decent cast to this group of characters and we learned a lot about how indigenous people ARE in big cities and present, and how that affects them. As well as seeing a lot about what the Truth & Reconciliation projects can do, when it works. 

It also does a good job of having the Muskrats being really representative of First Nations kids, they aren't extremely wealthy but also aren't in the depths of poverty. Straight down the middle hitting right between both, which is a good way to be so it can resonate with more kids looking to find themselves in literature. The Muskrats are a great depiction of modern kids as they might not be extremely well off, but they still know what technology is and how it functions. 

The only warning I would give is that there is a bullying scene, but it is very minor and doesn't get too intense. 

Would highly recommend to anyone who is looking to diverse-ify their library or their own bookshelves, as it is still entertaining even to a grown adult.
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Although I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and the subject matter is an important one, I felt like the mystery got by overshadowed by the events that happened in the city and the focus wasn't clear.
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