Trish Madell sits beside Thunder, the protagonist of her series of books with the same name. PHOTO COURTESY OF TRISH MADELL

‘Thunder in Yosemite’ is a sweet, funny book for kids



BAR HARBOR — Heartwarming, exciting and funny, “Thunder in Yosemite” by Bar Harbor resident Trish Madell is a children’s book that many adults will enjoy, as well. 

The Thunder in this book is not a weather phenomenon; it’s the name of a dog, a Vizsla to be precise, who is a Junior Park Ranger. He helps his “dad,” Ranger Mike, welcome visitors to Yosemite National Park, remind them of the park’s rules and enforce them, when necessary. They also go on search and rescue missions. 

When they arrive in Yosemite, they learn that, because of the high altitude and rugged terrain, they need special training to be on the search and rescue team there. And Thunder has to prove himself to the park’s veteran search and rescue dogs, who are skeptical that this newcomer is up to the job. 

When not assisting Ranger Mike, Thunder has adventures of his own, often partnering with the park’s wild animals to save one of their own that is lost or hurt. For example, there is Gerald, a young bighorn sheep (his mother is Sheryl), who gets stranded on a narrow ledge.  

Along the way, Thunder meets Doyle, the patriarch of an industrious family of beavers – OK, “industrious beavers” is redundant. When we meet Doyle, he is telling another beaver about a lodge improvement project he is undertaking. 

“We’re bumping out the master suite to make a little office area for my wife,” Doyle says. “She started a blog a while back, and it’s really taking off. “Day in the life’ kind of thing, you know. Teaching the kids to swim and chew with their mouths open. How to find a good beaver orthodontist in case their teeth come in straight.” 

Thunder, Junior Park Ranger, introduces himself to the veteran search and rescue dogs in Yosemite National Park – Sierra, Maxx and Cocoa – in an illustration from the third Thunder book by Trish Madell.
DRAWING COURTESY OF TRISH MADELL

Other memorable characters are marmots Beans and Mona, a golden eagle named Ed and a family of endangered Sierra Nevada red foxes. 

Thunder befriends a lovable, laid-back bear named Arthur who, along with some of his fellow bears, can’t resist raiding garbage cans, campground tents and parked cars for food. That, of course, is dangerous for both humans and bears, and it gets them in a lot of trouble.  

So, Thunder tries everything he can think of, including a PowerPoint presentation, to persuade them to move out of Yosemite Valley and into the back country, where they will be safe. 

“Thunder in Yosemite,” the third book in the Thunder series, was illustrated by Erick Sulaiman. 

Madell’s husband, the real-life Ranger Mike, recently retired as Acadia’s deputy superintendent. Before coming here, they were at Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi. While living in Vicksburg, they adopted a Vizsla puppy and named him Thunder. He is now 9. 

Trish Madell’s first book, set at the Vicksburg park, was “Thunder, Junior Park Ranger.” Her second was “Thunder in Acadia.” 

“Thunder in Yosemite” is available at Sherman’s Book Shop in Bar Harbor and on Amazon. 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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