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Home > Categories > Books > Kids - Middle > The Tramp to the Blue Range Hut review

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Score: 9.0/10  [1 review]
4 out of 5
ProdID: 9232 - The Tramp to the Blue Range Hut
Written by Caz Bartholomew

The Tramp to the Blue Range Hut
June 2024

The Tramp to the Blue Range Hut product reviews

Proud to promote NZ productsThe Tramp to the Blue Range Hut is set in the New Zealand bush. When friends James and Mark go tramping in fine weather, they set off late in the day. James has left his raincoat behind, and neither of them has checked the weather forecast before setting off. It will be up to the reader to make some decisions and decide their fate.

This is an educational pick-a-path designed to encourage readers to make informed decisions. It is perfect for 10-14-year-olds and was written with the support of the New Zealand Land Search and Rescue.

The illustrations are by Garry Fox.

caz bartholomew   garry fox   james   land search and rescue   mark   pickapath   safety   the tramp to the blue ridge hut   tramp   weather forecast   nzmade
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Click here to read the profile of savta

Review by: savta (Jo)
Dated: 10th of July, 2024

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This Review: 9.0/10
Age Appropriate:
Score 8 out of 10
Score 9 out of 10
Score 10 out of 10
Personal Choice:
Score 9 out of 10

I was keen to review The Tramp to the Blue Range Hut with Mr 14 as he has recently returned from a solo expedition into New Zealand's Pureora Forest Park; he spent 44 hours on his own, relying on experiences gained from prior, shorter trips into the bush, and what he had learned about bushcraft in his Outdoor Education classes. We read the book separately without prior consultation, and then met to discuss our evaluation. It was interesting that many of our conclusions and reactions were similar.

At first, we were both dubious about the way the story was presented. We were familiar with the original "Choose Your Own Adventure" series, so the Pick-A-Path format offered a similar experience where the reader has to decide the outcome. Mr 14 said he did not have the patience to read all the potential endings. His comment was that this format was more suited to younger readers who would have fun trying out all the possibilities. At his age, however, he was more interested in following the suggestion that appealed to him the most, and then moving on to another book. This would mean that he would not learn as much as he could since a large portion of the text would remain unread. Because he was reviewing the book, he did in fact go back during his second reading and test all the different endings; he confirmed that he had learned much more in this way.

Mr 14 thought the story was really well designed for under-twelves; although children of this age are unlikely to be wandering in the bush on their own, it would be useful for those on a family trip as they could contribute to the safety of the whole group. As for older children and teenagers, he felt that they would be more likely to read it and take on the important messages if it were told as a straightforward story. The safety information at the end of the book is useful; much of it is common sense, but it is good to have a checklist before embarking on a tramp. One thing he did find especially good was the way reference points were included to make navigating the story easy. Not only did the instruction to go to a certain page next point out the exact place where the story would pick up, but there were also pointers on the target page. For example, Page 30 has the header "From page 14..." while Page 14 tells the reader to turn to Page 30 if they choose to leave James and go to the hut for help. This navigation assistance makes it really easy for a younger child to find his way.

The story itself we felt was true to life. Mr 14's own experience has taught him the value of being prepared for the unexpected. Although Mark and James had not expected to spend much time in the open, the unpredictability of the climate meant that it was disastrous to omit the basics. Hypothermia is a very real risk in our mountains and forests and the inclusion of windproof and waterproof clothing plus the ability to construct a rough shelter from the elements are both givens. Mr 14 had a waterproof groundsheet, an Arctic sleeping bag, a tough fly to protect him from the weather, and thermal underwear. Mark and James had none of these; James did not even bring a raincoat! We liked the way the story emphasized the importance of preparation, and also the way that the weather can change without warning, leaving trampers stranded for hours without shelter. We appreciated that the story emphasised the importance of having at the very least a raincoat, and avoiding cotton garments as they are not warm enough.

We noted the comment about including a PLB (Personal Locator Beam). This is an excellent extra for a hiker to carry with him in case he gets lost. We also liked the recommendation (in one of the pathways) that Mark dress James in more warm clothing before leaving him to get help. Mr 14 said he could have used the pack itself as an extra insulating layer - most packs open out at least part way. A rubbish bag is a good emergency groundsheet too and can double as a container for wet and dirty clothing. Finally, Mr 14 thought they could have included something to make a fire - matches or a lighter, and firelighter bricks. A fire would have kept them warm and helped them to dry out. It would also serve to heat foil-wrapped food if desired. It would have dried the ground beneath it once the flames were extinguished, and the resulting smoke would have alerted rescuers once day broke. There are many bush areas where fires are forbidden, but if conditions are wet, the danger of fire spreading would be minimal.

So - our joint opinion is that this is a useful resource for children of primary and intermediate age. Not so much for secondary school level and beyond as the tone and style do not hold as much appeal for older children. However, Mr 14 thought that overall it achieved its aim of educating young people on the risks involved in tramping, especially in unknown areas, and might even inspire some youngsters to become involved in a local search and rescue team.

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