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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Danger in the Hills by Tom Waggoner is a tale about family and courage, told from the perspective of a groundhog that does what he can to protect his loved ones. Ernie has always been able to keep his family safe in their burrow home until the day a friend comes to report an incident in the pond and to deliver a dire warning. Ernie makes a trip to find the source of the problem, only matters get worse when he gets into a fight with a dog and a fox. The animals have no choice but to leave their home and travel into the hills. But the hills come with their own dangers.
The story is told from the perspective of the animals as they’re forced to move to a new home only to find new dangers. Their life in their burrow has been relatively at peace which is soon disrupted through growing dangers. Tom Waggoner uses various animals to show the disruption environmental changes cause to their homes and explores their daily lives with an emotional honesty that lets you see through the eyes of the animals. Ernie is a devoted father to his family and protecting them is the driving force that pushes him to make decisions when their home is no longer safe. The other important animals in Ernie’s life include his friends Otto and Sam with each of them playing a key role in the plot. Sam is a snake, one of Ernie’s most loyal friends, while Otto is a clever otter who is the catalyst for them moving after a dip in the pond becomes dangerous.
The dangers they face include environmental destruction, vengeful predators, and the threat of being discovered by humans. The trip into the hills has its own dangers as they search for a safe place to call home, which comes with a lesson in bravery and, more importantly, explores the importance of family as their bond with each other is what keeps them strong. Danger in the Hills explores themes of courage and family as one family faces various dangers that push them to travel into the unknown to find a place to call their own.