Book Review: Shadrach and Meshach explores the wild side

Experience life on the wild side in Shadrach and Meshach And How They Grew, by Lois Woodworth (Black Forest Press, 1996).

In this unusual tale, based on a true story, follow the adventures of two little orphan raccoons as they grow up in a human household and are finally released into the wild. Displaced from their nest by tree cutters, the two little waifs are separated from both their mother and their home.

Fortunately, they are rescued by Jimmy and his family, who take them in, and then the fun begins! Caring for two “babes of the woods” is a lot of work—not to mention that they get into everything and can do considerable damage to houseplants, furniture and the insulation on a car. They might even turn up in the motor!

These brave little explorers were survivors, and they were given the names of two biblical survivors—Shadrach and Meshach (from the Old Testament book of Daniel—two of the young Hebrew captives who were miraculously delivered from the Babylonian king’s fiery furnace). Eventually, they grew up and were taken to a wonderful place called “Coon College”—a farm where they could be rehabilitated to live in the wild. Shadrach and Meshach now live on the Pecatonica River in northern Illinois.

Woodworth is a Rockford native who moved to the Keweenaw in 2000 to be close to one of her sons. She’s been married 54 years to Gene Woodworth, also a Rockford native; both are graduates of East High School. Lois is the daughter of Ray Dahlquist, who has a park named after him because of his long service to the Rockford Park District. Lois and her sister Joyce founded the Rockford Figure Skating Club. Lois has also been prominent in golf, winning the Rockford Register Star’s City Championship five times and seven Winnebago County championships.

Lois and Gene Woodworth have three sons, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild. This is her first book. “Coon College” was a rehabilitation farm for orphan animals in Winnebago, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Hoople of Wayne’s Feed Store.

Lois Woodworth said: “Wayne Hoople of Wayne’s Feeds was the one who took them and put them on his farm. He had 40 raccoons…he withdraws the food so they have to eat off the land. He has berries and corn, and once they can eat on their own, he takes them to different forest preserves. He put ours on the Pecatonica River. He called me and said they graduated.”

Shadrach and Meshach And How They Grew is beautifully illustrated by Sarena Brown and Mike Abbott, a Rockford artist. Lois Woodworth will hold book signings Friday, Feb. 24 (1-5 p.m.) at Wayne’s Feed Store, 3434 Auburn St., and Saturday, Feb. 25 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) at Benson Stone, 1100 11th St. (intersection of Railroad Avenue). The book is $15. Copies may be ordered by mail (include $2.50 for shipping) from Lois Woodworth, 56726 Koskela Rd., Calumet, MI 49913.

From the Feb. 22-28, 2006, issue

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