Thunder thought he had a busy, exciting life at Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi. But even more thrills and adventures awaited him in Acadia.
Thunder is a dog, a vizsla to be specific. He made his literary debut last year as narrator of Trish Madell’s children’s book, “Thunder: Junior Park Ranger.” Now, he is back with “Thunder in Acadia.”
Thunder belongs to Ranger Mike – or vice versa – and the two of them spend their days greeting and assisting park visitors, enforcing park rules and responding to emergencies. It’s a big responsibility for a pup, but Thunder thrives on it.
One of his greatest gifts, along with his dedication to service, is his ability to converse with every other animal, regardless of species. And, amazingly, they are all fluent in English, even Perrot, the peregrine falcon who speaks with a French accent.
Over a span of just a few weeks, Thunder reunites a lost toddler with her parents and helps save a porcupine, a litter of puppies and a humpback whale. He also has an unpleasant encounter with a spoiled and supercilious cat named Miss Fortune.
With all that going on, it’s a wonder he has time to develop a crush on the golden retriever who lives next door.
Along with being a charming story full of suspense, it’s a visitor’s guide to Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island. There are descriptions of Thunder Hole, whale watch excursions, Bar Harbor’s Fourth of July parade and fireworks display and the Night Sky Festival.
“Thunder in Acadia” is sweet, heartwarming and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny.
At one point, Ranger Mike is narrating a bus tour and a passenger asks, “Are we going to an island? I thought Acadia was on an island.”
“We are on an island,” Ranger Mike replies.
“No, I mean an island in the ocean.”
“We are on an island. You just can’t tell it’s an island because you’re on it.”
“I can tell an island when I see one. They look like that, with water all around,” the passenger says, pointing out the bus window toward the islands in Frenchman Bay.
“There is water all around. You just can’t see all around from here,” Ranger Mike explains patiently.
“Well, can I change seats so I can see all around?’
Ranger Mike hesitates for a moment and then says, “Sure.”
Sometimes, Ranger Mike also narrates whale watch cruises, and he always takes Thunder with him. During his first time out on the boat, Thunder contemplates the vastness of the ocean and immensity of the planet.
“It really is amazing when you think about it,” he says. “This is usually about where my philosophical reflection turns into a nap.”
In real life, there is a vizsla named Thunder who lives just outside the village of Bar Harbor with his mom/owner and author Trish Madell and his dad/owner Mike Madell, deputy superintendent of Acadia National Park.
“Thunder in Acadia” is available at Sherman’s Books in Bar Harbor.