The Skydiving Beavers: A True Tale

A True Tale

Just after World War II, the people of McCall, Idaho, found themselves with a problem on their hands. McCall was a lovely resort community in Idaho's backcountry with mountain views, a sparkling lake, and plenty of forests. People rushed to build roads and homes there to enjoy the year-round outdoor activities. It was a beautiful place to live. And not just for humans. For centuries, beavers had made the region their home. But what's good for beavers is not necessarily good for humans, and vice versa. So in a unique conservation effort, in 1948 a team from the Idaho Fish and Game Department decided to relocate the McCall beaver colony. In a daring experiment, the team airdropped seventy-six live beavers to a new location. One beaver, playfully named Geronimo, endured countless practice drops, seeming to enjoy the skydives, and led the way as all the beavers parachuted into their new home. Readers and nature enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy this true story of ingenuity and determination.

Format List Price Your Price Qty
$16.99 $16.99
$28.99 $28.99
Interest Level Grade 1 - Grade 4
Reading Level Grade 3
Dewey 599.3709796
Lexile 750L
ATOS Reading Level 4.1
Guided Reading Level O
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781585369942), PDF (9781634724036), Hosted ebook (9781634724333)
Copyright 2017
Number of Pages 32
Dimensions 9 x 11
Graphics Full-color illustrations
  • 2017 Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice Award - Kids Non-Fiction Books Category
  • 2018 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, Winner, 2018

Publishers Weekly - The Skydiving Beavers

Striking a down-home tone, Wood (Esquivel!) unspools a real-life story of animal conservation. In 1948 Idaho, beavers presented a dilemma to a growing resort community: “The people were muscling in on the beavers’ habitat. And the beavers were trashing the people’s habitat. A real turf war.” Elmo Heter, an employee with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, relocated the beavers to a pristine wilderness area by gently dropping them in wooden boxes from parachutes. Van Frankenhuyzen (The Legend of the Beaver’s Tail) captures the historical setting in details like a woodie station wagon and copies of Life on Heter’s desk, while his lush, light-infused paintings reveal the region’s natural beauty. Wood’s story underscores the value in bringing innovative thinking to a problem—even a beaver invasion.

Kirkus Reviews - The Skydiving Beavers

An Idaho game warden invents an ingenious solution for a growing town’s wildlife problem in this tale set in 1948 Idaho.Characterized as “a lovely place” and so portrayed in van Frankenhuyzen’s golden meadows and hilly vistas, the town of McCall would be idyllic—except that humans “muscling in” on the local beavers’ habitat means that it is vulnerable to flooded roads and downed trees. What to do? Enter Elmo Heter, a beaver expert with a notion that the remote Chamberlain Basin would be a fine place for beavers to live. Wood spins the tale as a yarn (“But Elmo had a problem. A big problem. A big, transportation-type problem”) but sticks to historical records in describing how Heter considered and rejected various ways of safely moving the beavers before designing and (with the unwitting assistance of a beaver he calls Geronimo) testing a box that could be parachuted from an airplane and would open automatically upon landing. In her closing note the author reports that the successful airlift moved 76 beavers all told. She also perceptively suggests that communities today would more likely opt either to exterminate or, better, find ways of coexisting with local fauna. Human figures in the illustrations are all white. A true “tail” with a happy ending. (beaver facts, source list) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Author: Susan Wood

Susan Wood lives in coastal Virginia, where the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean meet. A random license plate she saw one day inspired this book. It read SNDY FT and got Susan thinking of her children’s sandy feet after fun family visits to the beach, plus all the other types of “feet”—paws, claws, flippers, and more—that can be found at the shore. Susan is an award-winning author of books for young readers, including Holy Squawkamole! Little Red Hen Makes Guacamole; The Skydiving Beavers: A True Tale; American Gothic: The Life of Grant Wood; and Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist. Learn more about Susan at

Illustrator: Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen

Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen was born in the Netherlands in 1951. With his seven brothers and sisters, he grew up exploring nature and his sketch pads were filled with observations from those family outings. Always drawing as a young boy, his father encouraged Gijsbert to make art his career. After high school, he attended and graduated from the Royal Academy of Arts in Arnhem, Holland. Gijsbert, or "Mr. Nick" as many children affectionately call him during his school visits, immigrated to the United States in 1976 and worked as Art Director for the Michigan Natural Resources Magazine for 17 years. In 1995, he illustrated his first children's book, The Legend of Sleeping Bear, finally fullfilling his dream of illustrating children's books.Residing in Bath, Michigan, Nick and his family share their 40-acre farm with sheep, horses, dogs, cats, turkeys, rabbits, chickens, pigeons and a revolving door of orphaned and injured wild life. The family's nature journals logged 20 years of wild life rehabilitation on the farm and it is through these journals that the popular Hazel Ridge series was created. The farm, the land and the animals make great subjects for the artist to paint. Mr. Nick travels to schools and conferences to share his passion for drawing—encouraging kids to make their hobby their career.

Narrator: Timothy Cap

  • Beginning of text
  • Author's Note
  • Bet You Didn't Know That Beavers…
Author/Illustrator biography
Full-color illustrations