The life and times of Strider Wolf

The life and times of Strider Wolf Written by Sarah Schweitzer, Photos by Jessica Rinaldi He has traveled so far, from near-fatal abuse to here, invisible among Maine’s poorest, in the care of grandparents who have little left to give but love — and just enough of that. Yet somehow Strider is climbing. How high? How far? Oxford, Maine The sunlight was dying, and soon there would be nothing but the shafts of the Walmart parking lot lights. So Strider set his chin and tried again.
“How do you spell long tongue?” he asked his grandmother.
His kindergarten teacher had assigned homework. He had to describe an animal. He’d chosen a giraffe and drawn a brown-and-yellow creature with a gangly neck craning to see beyond its own flat horizon. Now he needed help adding words, and for that he had to divert his grandmother’s attention from her phone.
Walmart had given them 24 hours in the parking lot. They’d been parked for double that. A church deacon said he might be able to help. The church sometimes let people camp on a field behind the building. But he had to check with other church officials for approval. He’d promised to call back by 5 p.m., which was 15 minutes ago.
Strider’s grandparents had long lived at the edge, or just beyond it, their troubles unknown and unseen, except by the chance visitor. They had tried to avoid this latest problem in the only way they knew. They’d promised their landlord payment. The $600 would be there Friday. Then it would be there the next. After two years of broken promises, the landlord ordered them off the property. They ignored him for a while. Then he cut the electricity, and they’d had no choice but to pack bags, tape a note to the door saying they’d be back for the rest of their stuff, and gather Strider and his brother.
They told the boys they were going camping. But campground space wasn’t available on short notice.
So they were parked in a corner of the Walmart parking lot, the four of them, a cat and three dogs, crammed into their 24-foot camper. Clothes and pots and toys clotted the floor of the galley kitchen that doubled as a hallway between the bedroom and a table that doubled as a sleeping bunk.
This was Strider’s fourth spring with Larry and Lanette Grant. He’d been just 2 years old on the frigid night when his mother’s boyfriend locked him in a shed and pummeled him. News of his brutal beating filled television screens and newspaper pages. Doctors weren’t sure he’d make it. But he’d fought his way back and state caseworkers went to the Grants and told them Strider and his younger brother, Gallagher, were theirs if they wanted them.
The Grants had burdens already. Lanette Grant was 51 and depended on Oxycodone for a herniated neck disc, Lyrica for fibromyalgia, and Prozac for most everything else. At 63, Larry Grant had diabetes, short-term memory problems, and frequently drove off, returning hours later, still listless, without giving a hint of where he’d been. Recently, they’d lost a job delivering auto parts to stores across Maine.
But family was family, Lanette said. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Strider, 5, hugged his grandmother, Lanette Grant, outside of the camper they were living in. He held on to her tight. Strider worried constantly about losing things — especially his grandparents. He called Lanette “mama” and Larry “papa” and demoted his biological mother to “bad mommy” and his father to “Michael.” Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Strider’s biological father, Michael, visited the campground where the family was living, and he worked to fix the training wheels on Strider’s bike. Michael was sweet but troubled and easily led astray. As a young boy doctors had diagnosed him with an alphabet soup of maladies, and he’d spent time in a mental health facility. Lanette blamed the abuse he’d suffered at the hands of her first husband. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Larry Grant roughhoused with Strider beside the campfire. With Strider he was playfully gruff. Larry had diabetes and short-term memory problems. He frequently drove off, returning hours later, without giving any hint of where he’d been.
Strider was thin and fragile when he arrived at their home. In the windows, he saw specters. “Ghost dogs,” he called them. “The owl is coming to get me,” he whispered at night. In preschool, his fears took new form. He worried constantly about losing things — toys, friends, and especially his grandparents. He tried to pull them closer. He called Lanette “Mama” and Larry “Papa” and demoted his biological mother to “Bad Mommy” and his father to “Michael.”
He showered Lanette with praise. He aped Larry. But he and his brother taxed what energy his grandparents had left. “Medicine!” Lanette called when the boys were getting out of hand. Even anti-hyperactivity meds didn’t slow them enough for the Grants.
At night, when Strider was in bed, he could hear them complaining of unpaid bills and the unfairness of it all.
Now, there was this — this parking lot and a vast, swallowing sea of uncertainty.
Rain had begun. The white pines fringing the parking lot were caves of drenched green. The whine of trucks from Route 26 penetrated the camper as Lanette wound the gear of a cigarette maker. Pipe tobacco shot through the Top-o-Matic’s chute. Her mouth drew into a shadowed fold as she took a drag.
“We didn’t ask for this. We just didn’t,” Lanette said, her gaze falling on Strider and his brother.
Strider’s face flattened in panic. Caseworkers had explained it would be like this with him. He’d lost so much, any whiff of rejection set off bells of alarm. His traumas were as much a part of him as the trees he climbed or the magic brooms he fashioned from sticks. Researchers now understood that trauma could alter the chemistry of developing brains and disrupt the systems that help a person handle stress, propelling a perpetual state of high alert. The consequences could be lifelong. As an adult, he’d be more likely to suffer anxiety and depression and heart disease and stroke. His ability to hold a job, manage money, and make good decisions could be compromised. And there was evidence, controversial but mounting, that he could pass on these traits to his children.
The one thing known to reverse the cascading effects of trauma on young brains was the constancy, security, and persistence of love. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Strider struggled as he carried gallons of water filled from a spigot to the camper. Lanette would heat the water on a small stove to do the dishes and bathe the boys with a washcloth. The family bounced around from campground to campground, after being evicted last summer for falling behind on their rent.
Strider needed Larry and Lanette. He loved them desperately, and now he studied his grandmother, searching for some assurance that everything would be all right — even as everything was falling apart. In the months to come, they would hit bottom, and still Strider would try to get what he needed and they would give him what they could. Failure, they well knew, could be catastrophic.
Yet Larry and Lanette had their own emotional wounds that looped with the burdens of poverty and forced them into corners — like the one Lanette was in now as she retrained her sight on her phone, checking for a message that might not come. I t’s not known what Justin Roy used to punch a hole in Strider’s stomach in December 2011. Was it a boot? A fist? What’s known is Strider was eating dinner. He was fussy. He was at that age. Roy, his mother’s boyfriend, was tired of having Strider and his brother underfoot in his mobile home near the Maine border in Albany, N.H. He’d texted Strider’s mother a week earlier and told her she should have drowned them at birth.
On this night, he yanked Strider outside and shoved him into a dog cage. Then he dragged him behind the mobile home to a shed with cheap, rough siding and a grinding wheel.
Hours passed and temperatures plummeted to the single digits in the shadow of Mt. Chocorua. Strider’s mother went out to the shed during the night. Roy had hung T-shirts over the windows. He held the door shut and would not let her in. Shortly before dawn, Roy stormed into the house carrying Strider. He was still raging by morning. He swore at 11-month-old Gallagher. He flung Strider to the floor.
Strider’s mother told Roy she was leaving and packed the boys into her van. Then she drove to get gas and wish a friend happy birthday. She drove to her mother’s house. There, she wondered why Strider’s eyes were rolling back in his head. Around 7:30 a.m., she plunked Strider in a waiting room chair at the local hospital and walked to the registration desk.
A nurse walking by noticed Strider. He was writhing.
Doctors ordered him flown to Maine Medical Center in Portland where he underwent three surgeries in four days to repair his torn intestine and other damage that doctors later would testify they typically saw in high speed, head-on car crashes. Family photo In December 2011, Strider was locked in a shed by his mother’s boyfriend and beaten. Doctors weren’t sure he’d survive. Admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Maine Medical Center in Portland, he fought his way back. Lanette took the photo on the left while visiting her grandson in the ICU. The photo on the right shows Strider after he was released. Family photo Strider underwent three surgeries in four days to repair his torn intestine and other damage that doctors later would testify they typically saw in high speed car crashes. A family photo shows the feeding tube that Strider returned home to Larry and Lanette with. Family photo A family photo shows Strider being cared for at home after returning from the hospital with a feeding tube in March 2012.
Strider lay for 23 days in a hospital bed webbed in tubing and bandages and monitors. Police arrested Roy. They questioned Strider’s mother. Each pointed a finger of blame at the other. On Jan. 11, 2012, doctors released Strider from the hospital and, with his stomach fitted with a feeding tube, he arrived at the Grants’ home, aching from losses he couldn’t yet comprehend. T he Grants hailed from Aroostook County, Maine’s sparsely settled outpost of potato fields and logging forests bordering Canada. Larry’s father was military, and his family hopped bases every few years. As a kid, he vowed he’d have a horse ranch someday. Horses meant you stayed put. Lanette pined for stability of another sort. At 15, she’d gone to her mother and told her that a relative had molested her. Her mother abruptly ended the conversation, as Lanette recalls it. Lanette pleaded for her mother to listen, to believe her, to do something. In a way, Lanette hadn’t stopped pleading. She called her mother every day.
Lanette met Larry at a VFW dance in Presque Isle in 1991. They were both divorced with kids. He liked her shape and called her Pockets. His hair hung long and shaggy. She pulled hers into a tight bun each morning, as if the winding might bring order to her world. His humor ran to the dry side of parched. She talked and talked to whoever might listen. Together, they divided the world into people who were with them and the ones who were against them. Those people could go pound sand, Lanette liked to say.
In search of work, they moved some 300 miles south to Oxford, with its fry joints and convenience stores sprawled along Route 26, a town waiting for the dividends of the new casino. They bought an Imperial mobile home, parked it on two rented acres down from the speedway, and filled the yard with mowers, washing machines, and random metal frames that could be sold for smelting. Lanette did a few years as a nursing assistant, then as a convenience store manager. But she had pain from the herniated disc in her neck. “Work wasn’t in the cards,” she said. Larry’s long-distance trucking job ended when he collided with another tractor-trailer in 2007 and emerged from the hospital with a dented forehead and a notice of termination.
They were patching together an existence off Craigslist, a roulette of piecemeal jobs, when Michael, Lanette’s son, brought a new girlfriend around. They had met online. Larry and Lanette worried. She struck them as harsh and Michael was sweet and troubled and easily led astray. He’d spent time in a mental health facility as a child and now, at 25, he struggled to hold a job and had a daughter by another woman
The next thing they knew, they had a grandson, Strider Wolf — Strider for the character in Lord of the Rings and Wolf for the howling image on the shirt Michael was wearing the day his son was born. Gallagher came along two years later. Then things went south. Michael and the boys’ mother split. She left with the boys, and Michael came home to live with the Grants.
In December 2011, Michael got the call that Strider was in the hospital. He nodded, then crumpled to the floor and rocked his body in a fetal ball. T he state initially explored the possibility of putting the boys in the care of Michael and their mother, despite their shortcomings. Caseworkers drew up plans and bullet-pointed lists of activities meant to teach them the obligations and responsibility of parenting. But hopes quickly dissolved. Strider’s mother was distracted to the point of indifference during arranged meetings with the boys. There was no “mutual affection,” a supervisor concluded in notes submitted to a judge. The visits were halted. A short time later, Michael fled the Grants’ mobile home, checked into a mental health facility, and then moved to a town over an hour away, where he stayed put.
The boys were castaways, stranded for good with the Grants. “People say we r angels but boy if this is what it is like being an angel I’m all set let someone else be!” Lanette vented on Facebook. Gallagher struggled to talk. He pushed up Lanette’s shirt and pressed against her bare skin like a newborn. He was so distracted and prone to accidents that a therapist recommended he wear a backpack stuffed with small weights to ground him. Had he been dropped on his head as an infant? Doctors suspected a calamity of some sort. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Gallagher cooled off with a drink while Larry and Lanette packed for hours by the light of their car headlights following eviction. The landlord had cut the power and put locks on the electrical boxes in an attempt to force them off the property.
And Strider. He was always asking, asking — pressing the Grants for more and more. He had a facial expression when he did, lifting the left side of his mouth into a smile and cocking his head, as if the head-tilt might roll things his way. His therapist was encouraged. Asking for what he wanted was a sign that in his young mind the world had not forsaken him.
There was resilience in this boy. He marched off to kindergarten with a dimple in his stomach where his feeding tube had been. Testing showed he had a nimble mind. He made a best friend. He came home talking about rockets and anteaters and prisms. He roamed the woods, finding sticks that could be a sword or a steed and castinghimself a Christopher Robin of western Maine.
He was stronger and faster and nimbler in the woods, the boy beneath the mountain of hurt. He tried to be that boy all the time, nodding agreeably and listening closely to his grandparents so that he might slot more seamlessly into their lives. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Michael carried his son, Gallagher, Strider’s younger brother, on his shoulder. Michael lived over an hour away from the boys and visited sporadically. When he did visit he tried to make up for lost time, often with boisterous play. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Strider pulled his pajamas over his head as he changed in Lanette and Larry’s bedroom inside the cramped camper. Recently evicted from their home, the family of four was squeezed into the 24-foot camper.
But the hurt rose up unbidden. A hole opened and memories swallowed him. For weeks at a stretch, Strider would be moody and keep to himself. And then, equally without warning, he would share his pain, often with his therapist. Playing with blocks or drawing pictures on the floor in her office, he would express confusion and fright and a sense of perilous solitude.
“[Bad Mommy] swooped me outside the house with a broom and said ‘go live somewhere else,’ ” he told the therapist during a session last December. “I traveled so far.”
Unburdened, he returned for a time to happier ways. His therapist warned Larry and Lanette that memories would seize him again. When they did, she said, he would need them most.
In April, days after loading up the camper and parking it at Walmart, Lanette got the call from Strider’s school. Strider was anxious. His breath had sped into a hot helpless rhythm and he was confused about which school bus to ride.
Was he supposed to take the usual one home or was there another one that went to Walmart? When their time was up at Walmart, the Grants moved to the Tractor Supply Co. parking lot, and then a few days later, they motored five miles down Route 26, past the speedway and Maine-ly Action Sports, and set up camp off a rutted road in the trees. A scenic lake ran along the length of one side of the campground. Their site was on the other side, in black fly breeding grounds.
The flies swarmed in clouds of threatened attack one afternoon as Strider dropped his backpack by the door of the camper. He told no one about the note buried at the bottom. Then he wandered into the woods until Lanette called “Supper!” Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff On a warm summer evening Strider sat beside a campfire with a stick as night began to fall. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Gallagher sat in the center of a circle his brother, Strider, had etched around him in the dirt. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Strider held out a small lantern as he played in the woods outside of the camper. In spite of everything, he was imaginative and playful, running through the woods and climbing trees most evenings until his grandmother called him in for dinner.
Lanette ladled Betty Crocker scalloped potatoes onto plates and stared at the piles. She wasn’t hungry. She’d drunk Pepsi all afternoon as she called everyone she could think of in state government. The woman at the governor’s office said there was no error. Their food stamps had been cut by a hundred dollars because living in a campground meant they no longer had a house payment. Lanette argued back. The woman said it was no use. And on the conversation went.
Larry had equally little success finding a place where they could haul the mobile home. He’d e-mailed a guy from Craigslist willing to sell a piece of land for $10,000 in a lease-to-own deal. But when they talked by telephone, the guy explained the land had no water or septic, and they would need to haul water from the fire station and toss their waste in the woods, like he and his family did.
Strider was forking a potato when Lanette held up the note from his teacher.
“Why, Strider?” Lanette demanded.
The teacher sent a note home every day. It listed his daily activities with a slot next to each. The slots had smiley faces except for one. Next to lunch, she had drawn a face with a slash-mouth. Off to the side she’d written: Hit another boy in the face and called him a whine-bucket.
Strider fixed his mouth, as if that might beat back tears.
The scene had unspooled so fast. A boy sitting next to him held a lunchbox in front of his face. The boy called it a shield. Strider thought he was trying to block his view of his best friend. Strider told him to put the lunchbox down, and when the boy didn’t, he’d let his fist fly. The boy cried, and Strider reached for a word he knew from home.
Kindergarten friendships were fleeting. Someone was your best friend one minute and someone else’s the next. It was the way kids figured out friendship, Lanette had explained to him. But in that moment at lunch, all Strider needed was to hang on to his friend. And now, with his grandparents staring at him in disappointment, the only thing he could think of to say was, “Sorry.”
Larry and Lanette had heard sorry from what felt like every corner of the earth.
“Sorry don’t mean nothing to you,” Larry grumbled.
Strider folded into himself like he wanted to disappear.
His brother started crying. “Gallagher’s going to bed,” Lanette announced. She lifted the wailing boy off the bench and carried him inside the camper. The coffee maker began to gurgle. The boys stripped off clothes. Lanette dipped a rag in the Mr. Coffee pot of warmed water and sponge-bathed the boys’ backs as they angled past each other in the hallway, bumping up against baskets of dirty clothes and the vacuum cleaner and the rolling bin of paper plates and everything that didn’t fit in the crush of half-shelves.
Gallagher soon was asleep under an M & M blanket. Strider’s eyes widened with the coming dark that he still feared, and he scanned the floor for his flashlight. “Oh, all right,” Lanette said, okaying the flashlight as Strider crawled into his bunk above Gallagher’s.
The screen door clapped shut. The calls of peepers filled the night, and then his grandparents’ voices swirled above them. A text had come into Lanette’s phone. It was from their neighbor, Neal. “You f—ing people. Every day,” Lanette read aloud. Neal had had enough. When they’d gotten booted off the land, he’d agreed to watch the weathered bunch of horses they had collected over the years. Neal asked only that they supply hay. Larry hadn’t delivered any in days.
“There ain’t no hay to be found,” Larry said.
“Whatever,” Lanette said.
There wasn’t more to say and so they were still. The only movement came from the silver light peering out from the small window next to Strider’s bunk. The light darted between the trees, as if seeking a path. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff The night the Grants were evicted, Michael’s fiancee, Ashly (left) stood in the doorway with Lanette as they took a break from packing up the family’s belongings. After two years of not paying the rent, the Grants’ landlord had given them 30 days to pack and leave. But as the night went on it became clear that they were not going to be able to take all of their possessions with them. A letter from the landlord’s lawyer arrived at the post office where their mail was being held. The Grants had 30 days to get their mobile home off the rented property. If they didn’t, everything would be the landlord’s.
They had nowhere to move the mobile home, but maybe they could save their things. Each morning they made plans to make the 10-minute drive to the mobile home and pack. But one thing or another came up, and they wouldn’t make it over there until late afternoon, when it was easier just not to think about the problem.
“I so want to be back here,” Lanette said, leaning against the mobile home’s kitchen counter one afternoon. The cabinets overflowed with Tupperware and bowls and plates. Crayon drawings hung alongside calendars and taped notes of inspiration. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior,” one declared.
They’d left in such a hurry that they’d forgotten Gallagher’s milk in the refrigerator. The sour smell permeated everything. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff As Lanette and Larry worked to pack up the family’s possessions, Strider and Gallagher were left in the back of the car. Tired and acting out, Gallagher bit Strider, who recoiled, pressing himself against the car window. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Stressed out and exhausted, Lanette stared out of the camper’s doorway as Gallagher rested beside her. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff When the Grants returned to their trailer to pack, Strider wandered into his bedroom and looked around. Many of his belongings would be left behind, including his bicycle.
The power was still off, and Larry had hocked the generator for a loan. Now a pawnbroker charged them $62 a month to hold the generator as collateral. It was like that with their money. The $1,827 they took in each month, from Larry’s disability, welfare, and child support from Michael, somehow drained from their Norway Savings Bank account before bills could be paid.
Strider was in his room. It was as it had been. The bookshelf hung crookedly. The Ninja Turtle kite sagged from a few points of attachment to the ceiling. The firefighter boots. The sign on the door that read Captain Strider. He played Legos, clicking pieces together, building an orderly world.
It was getting on toward 6.
“Stri!” Lanette called.
He stood and looked at the Legos. He cocked his head. He’d loved Legos since he was a toddler. But he knew better than to ask if he could bring them to the camper. It was crowded enough.
They piled into their yellow car and angled out of the dirt driveway.
Packing would wait for another day. He shouldn’t have left the sticks by the camper door. He’d gathered them in the woods and imagined they were clues to a mystery and he was a detective with all the answers. He ought to have left them behind. But he’d wanted to show them to his grandparents, and in the morning his grandfather had tripped on them and swore. Larry was still cranky as he drove him to school. Strider chattered from the backseat — about football, picnics, his upcoming three-day weekend for Memorial Day. “Your vacation, my torture,” Larry muttered.
Strider tilted his head in confusion, then straightened and tried again.
“I’m going to get all smiley faces today,” he said.
“No you can’t,” Larry said.
Strider insisted.
“I’ll get you an ice cream cone if you get ’em all,” Larry countered. The bet was on, and Strider bobbed into Oxford Elementary School.
Larry gripped the wheel tightly and steered toward the next reckoning.
State officials were headed to Neal’s to look at the horses. Someone had reported them to animal welfare. By the time Larry arrived with Lanette, officials were staring in fixed dismay at the sway-backed elderly horse with mottled fur, the distended stomachs and flat eyes of the others.
“This is not our fault,” Lanette told one state officer.
“Then whose is it?” the officer asked.
Lanette cried messily as she signed paperwork surrendering the horses. Next to her signature, she wrote, “We love our horses.” Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Lanette looked away after being told she had to turn over her horses to an animal control officer and a veterinarian. Due the family’s financial strains they couldn’t feed the horses and had to surrender them due to malnourishment. Next to her signature, she wrote, “We love our horses.” Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Animal control officers inspect the Grants’ horses, malnourished due to the family’s financial strains. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Lanette leaned in as she explained to Strider that the horses were gone and that they would never see them again. Strider was silent.
They hadn’t been charged with animal cruelty. But there was guilt and shame, and as the afternoon went on, the feelings turned to anger and blame flew. There was the turncoat neighbor. The state officials. And all the people who knew nothing of saving two boys and being punished for it.
“Everything was perfect until we took them boys in,” Lanette said into the quiet.
And then the boys were home from school and Lanette bent down and leveled her face with theirs.
“Can we talk?” she asked.
Strider stared with big eyes that tried to read his grandmother as she explained that the horses were gone. Strider said nothing and she said they would never see them again. “What are you thinking?” she asked.
He paused. She wanted him to say something about the horses. Something to blunt her hurt. He offered what he had. “I got all smileys.”
Larry said, “It hasn’t sunk in.”
Lanette nodded, and when he sensed that he could, Strider escaped into the woods, under boughs of white pines, his slender legs stalking the needle-feathered ground. He quickly conjured a game, imagining himself a hunter of ancient waterways, taking himself away from the day’s turmoil.
Later, when he asked Larry when they could get the ice cream cone, Larry shook his head. The yellow car had begun leaking gas. There was no way to get to One Cow Ice Cream. A nightmare woke Strider with a shudder. Lanette recalled going to him, but he couldn’t stop crying. Gallagher woke and started crying too, and then morning came and they stepped outside into the muck.
They were at a new campsite. The one they’d been at was booked for the rest of the season, and so they’d had to scramble for this new one in Poland, a town over from Oxford. This campground owner had put them in a muddy site, across from a high, dry, and empty one, charged them $210 a week and texted them: “I don’t want to regret helping you out.”
The 30 days that the landlord had given them to move their stuff were nearly up. Lanette’s hope was on a guy named Rick. He’d called about a Craigslist posting they’d put up offering the mobile home for sale. Rick said he’d pay $6,000. He was going to come by to have a look.
“You’re dreaming up the wrong tree,” Larry told her.
A few days later, the day before the deadline, Larry and Lanette were at the mobile home at 10 a.m. They recalled waiting and waiting and waiting. An hour passed and then another, and finally Lanette had to agree with Larry. Rick wasn’t coming.
They were out of options. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff On the night of the eviction the boys climbed into a rusted Ford sunk behind the horse pasture. Strider held a broken automotive hoses to his eyes like a pair of binoculars. He tipped his head upward. “What’s on the moon?” Strider asked. The weather was clear the next night — a minor blessing in the mess.
Pale moonlight ringed Strider and his brother as they ran in frenzied freedom behind the mobile home, darting between barrels and chain link fencing and a jumble of plywood. Larry and Lanette were scrambling to pack stuff and get it to storage by midnight.
A train whistle blew. The boys sped toward the sound. They climbed into a rusted chassis sunk in the crusted old horse field. Strider held broken automotive hoses to his eyes like a pair of binoculars. He tipped his head upward. “What’s on the moon?” Strider asked.
They stood silhouetted against the pressing darkness, straining to see the universe from the ruined Ford, until a car barreled onto the grass shortly after 9 p.m.
“Our father is here,” Strider said, running toward the car.
Michael had been promising to come and help them move since they got their eviction notice. He wasn’t good about keeping promises to visit. When he did show, he compensated spastically for lost time. One weekend Michael crushed his finger wielding a wood maul. Another time he tried to get a game of football going with Strider, but he threw the ball so hard, it bloodied Strider’s cheek.
Now Strider stood with his hands clasped, then backed away as Michael rushed past him. “My gorilla!” Lanette said. Michael fell into her arms. They hugged until he extracted himself and stalked into the mobile home and flung himself at furniture. He pinched his finger trying to move Lanette’s vanity toward the door and yelped, then was back in motion.
Strider wandered to a wicker daybed by the side of the road. The Grants had marked it free to any takers. His eyes pinned in bleary resignation as he watched the dismantling of his home.
He was asleep when a pickup truck parked down the street. Lanette saw a man sitting in the cab.
Moonlight faded. The mobile home hulked like a gray clown car producing an unending stream of stuff. At midnight, Lanette saw the waiting truck’s headlights snap on. The truck crawled forward and halted in front of the daybed. The landlord stepped out.
“Time’s up!” he yelled, as recalled by the Grants and the landlord. “Get off my property!”
Michael lunged at the daybed.
“It’s my baby!” Michael cried.
He scooped Strider off the daybed and carried him away, like a firefighter emerging from a burning house. The landlord stood in the street watching in bewildered silence. But Michael wasn’t done. He yelled at the landlord, until the landlord said enough, and called the cops. Strider woke only enough to pull his legs to his chest, stretch his T-shirt over them, and mumble, “I’m so cold. I’ve been so cold.” In the days to come, they counted their losses. Cutting boards and tops to pots had been left behind in the mobile home. Boxes of photographs and furniture. Strider’s bike was gone, along with Lanette’s late brother’s autopsy report.
Larry was defeated by the losses. Lanette had plans. She would take the landlord to court. But first they had to set up at a new campground. They’d been asked to leave the campground in Poland after neighbors complained about their dogs. They’d wangled a new campsite, this one on a side road winding behind the casino on Route 26 in Oxford, where the guard watched them warily. Lanette warned Strider to stay out of view and Strider wandered to the campsite’s perimeter, where, if he looked up, he could see snug stick-built houses on the ledge above. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff After surrendering their belongings following their eviction, the Grants appeared before a judge at Maine District Court in a last ditch effort to try and gain reentry to the property. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Without a lawyer, the Grants were left without much hope of winning against their former landlord. At the judge’s urging they went into the hallway and tried to come to an agreement. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Lanette and Larry stood outside of District Court after waging an unsuccessful attempt to regain entry to the trailer. The new owner eventually agreed to box up the family photos left behind and leave them at the police station for the Grants to retrieve.
On a Sunday morning, Lanette hung balloons under a tarp that stretched from the camper to staked poles. The balloons were stamped “I love you,” leftovers from her wedding to Larry. Strider was turning 6. His birthday party was set to start at 1.
“Let’s see what you have,” Larry told Strider as he and Gallagher zoomed around, high on anticipation and sugar of frozen blueberry waffles. Gallagher thrust his fist into his grandfather’s shoulder. Larry caught it and released it. Gallagher tumbled to the ground, taking Strider with him.
“Don’t be a whine-bucket,” Lanette reprimanded as Gallagher cried.
Strider scrambled to his feet. He looked to Lanette for reprieve, but her head was turned. She smiled broadly at a car pulling up to the camper. “Great-grammie’s here!” she called.
Lanette’s mother had short hair and a bulldog gaze. “Time’s ticking,” she said as she jangled her car keys. She’d offered to take Lanette to Walmart and pay for Strider’s birthday cupcakes. It was a 15-minute drive. “We’ll be back!” Lanette called from her mother’s car as it winked out of sight.
A half hour passed, then an hour.
At 2:30, Strider balled his fist and thrust it like a microphone in front of Larry: What was the color of the sky last night? How does an airplane keep birds off its back? Whose birthday is today? “I’m not here,” Larry said. Strider slumped onto the camper’s stoop. “The news is all over,” he said. He rested his elbows on his knees and cupped his chin in his hands. Rain began to fall. The temperature dipped to 50 degrees. Strider shivered.
“I’m going to scream,” Strider said to silence. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff On the day of Strider’s sixth birthday, Lanette and her mother went to Walmart to pick up his birthday cake. They were gone for more than two hours. Back at the campsite a disappointed Strider sat beside Larry and waited for them to return.
Shortly before 3 p.m., Lanette’s mother’s car nosed in.
Lanette looked happier than she had in months. Her mother had taken her to get her medicines. She might as well have taken her to the moon. “My mama,” Lanette called her mother. Her sister didn’t talk to their mother, as far as Lanette knew. Lanette took another view. You only get one mother. She set the cupcakes on the misted plastic tablecloth and sang “Happy Birthday” louder than anyone.
“Pop it!” his great grandmother said to Strider, handing him an oversized balloon.
The balloon was full and bouncy and airborne. “I don’t feel like it,” Strider whispered back.
“Come on Strider, pop it,” Lanette said. Larry took the balloon from Strider. He held it over his head and poked it with a knife. POP! Six rolled-up dollar bills showered Strider’s head, then fell to the ground and scattered. “Find ’em,” his great-grandmother called. Lanette echoed her. Strider scavenged in the mud under the table, and when he’d found them, he looked up from his crouch and asked, “Can we have cake now?”
Lanette gave him a chocolate cupcake and kissed him. Then she talked with her mother while Strider bent his head and ate. He asked for another and another, as though the whole bunch might be snatched away and lost. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Strider’s great-grandmother gave him a balloon and told him to pop it. “I don’t feel like it.” Strider whispered. “Come on Strider, pop it.” Lanette said. Larry took the balloon from Strider, held it over his head and poked it with a knife. Six rolled up dollar bills and confetti scattered to the ground. “Find ’em,” his great-grandmother called. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff “Can we have cake now?” Strider asked. Lanette gave him a chocolate cupcake and kissed him. Strider bent his head and ate. Then he asked for another, as though the whole bunch might be snatched away and lost. A few weeks later, shortly before the end of school, Strider sat alone, under a DARE sign, curled into a wall alcove. The lunch ladies in blue smocks had piled his tray with potatoes and carrots and chocolate milk, but he picked only at a package of Pillsbury mini-bagels. It was grab bag day. A dollar bought a brown paper bag of goodies, like pencils and erasers. Two mothers from the PTO were stuffing bags at the table over from him. Lanette had told him that morning she didn’t have a dollar.
Strider’s schoolwork was improving, and his teachers were pleased. But what did that matter now? His best friend sat a few seats away surrounded by other boys. They were giggling and having fun. Strider wasn’t up for battling for a place next to him. Trays clattered and voices twittered, the noise rising to the rafters, while Strider tucked his legs up against his chest, deeper into the alcove. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff During recess at his elementary school, Strider sat at the base of a tree as other children played nearby. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Strider made his way through the hallway of his elementary school as he and his classmates returned from recess. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff At lunch Strider tucked himself into a cubby as he nibbled on a snack, leaving the rest of the food the school lunch ladies had given him untouched. It was grab bag day, and a dollar bought a brown paper bag of goodies, like pencils and erasers. Strider didn’t have a dollar.
The week brought a new note from Strider’s teacher: Strider had mimed putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger.
“A 6-year-old with a 6-year-old attitude,” Lanette vented.
His pajamas were wet most mornings now. He’d begun wearing Gallagher’s pull-ups and draining the supply. His therapist explained that his bed-wetting was a response to trauma, either the unfolding upset in their lives, or some resurrecting memory. It was hard to know. He needed to hear that it was all right, that they would solve the problem together.
Lanette knew something else, often telling Strider: “Them pull-ups are expensive.”
She was a single parent most of the time these days. Larry was washing floors at night at Shaw’s. By day, he prowled the suburbs of Portland. A guy named Al had hired him to collect donations that people had pledged to a local firefighters association.
“I’m stressed beyond stressed right now,” she told caseworkers who visited. When they asked where things stood with housing, she snapped. “My mind isn’t where it can be to appease you people,” and they hung their heads and jotted notes on yellow pads and scurried away. One afternoon in the final week of school, Larry was sleeping before his night shift. The dishes needed washing. Dinner needed making. Lanette’s cell kept ringing. And suddenly, Strider was in front of her with his head cocked, wanting to know if he could go for a walk down the road that bordered the campground.
“No, you can’t go for a walk,” she unleashed. “You were totally soaked this morning. We’ve tried everything with you.”
Instead, Strider trekked into the woods close to the camper. He lifted a stick. He whacked a tree. He whacked it again and broke the stick. He found a new stick and hit the tree again. He hit this tree and that one. He slashed trillium and trout lilies. Their leaves shredded. Green pieces flew in the air like confetti. Gallagher called for him and Strider didn’t answer.
Strider’s fury rose and rose, flooding him with all the power that a 6-year-old could muster.
He attacked the trees for the better part of an hour, alone, unreachable and hot-cheeked, and then he saw a flower. It was red, with spurred petals — like the columbines Lanette loved because her mother loved them.
Strider picked it and gripped it behind his back, then rushed headlong toward the camper calling, “Mom! Mom!” Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Strider walked towards the camper with a flower pressed between his thumb and forefinger for Lanette, a conciliatory gesture after she had yelled at him for wetting the bed. His therapist had explained that his bed-wetting was a response to trauma, either the unfolding upset in their lives, or some resurrecting memory. And then it was summer and it was warm. For the Grants that meant winter was that much closer. They wouldn’t make it through autumn in the tiny camper. School had ended, and with no money for camp, Strider was home with the Grants. Often, he was quiet and reclusive.
He was hunched on a rock outside the camper one July day when the Grants decided enough was enough.
“Stop sulking!” Larry warned him. Lanette ordered him to his bunkbed as a time-out.
“Why were you sulking?” she asked him from the camper door frame.
“I wasn’t sulking,” he said in a trembling voice. “I was thinking.”
“What were you thinking about?” she asked.
He paused. It was dangerous to say what he was about to say. It would not make his grandparents happy.
“Bad Mommy,” he whispered.
Lanette asked, “Are you thinking about what happened to your tummy?”
Strider shook his head. No, he said. It wasn’t like that.
“I want to remember what she looks like,” he said.
Lanette despised Strider’s mother, who hadn’t inquired about him in over a year. There was word she might try to seek custody. The notion drove Lanette mad.
But Lanette knew what it was like to long for a mother. She had spent the better part of her life chasing after her own mother’s care and attention. She loved Strider. She failed him sometimes. But she would not in this moment, when it counted most.
So she made him a promise.
She had a photo of his mother. It was somewhere. She would find it. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Lanette and Strider shared a carefree moment as the afternoon the sun broke through the trees. She often lamented that she and Larry weren’t able to be grandparents to Strider and Gallagher because they had to play the role of Mom and Dad, enforcing rules and making sure they were provided for instead of playing with them. I n mid-August, they found a house on Craigslist in an old mill town, Lisbon, about half an hour away. They paid a visit to assure the owner that they were decent people. He decided the house could be theirs. Rent was $800 for the old three-story rectory next to a shuttered church. It had traveled a hard path from its churchly days. Scars gashed brown paneling, ancient paint peeled from door-frames, brown streaks of glue gobbed where wallpaper had hung. The third floor bedroom, they suspected from the smell of it, had been a marijuana-growing lab.
“It’s a home,” Lanette said. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff After months of searching for a new place to live, a Craigslist post had finally turned up a home they could afford. Strider extended his hand for his morning meds. “We haven’t been here 24 hours, and I’m tired already,” Lanette said. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff The landlord at the Grants’ new home offered to cut the grass before their arrival, but Larry insisted on doing it himself, saying he would relish mowing a lawn after all the family had been through. Three quarters of the way through the chore, the lawn mower broke and Larry dragged it behind the house to see if he had the parts to fix it. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Rimmed in the blue light of a television screen, Strider sat up on the bare mattress and looked out the window as he awoke for the first time in his family’s new home.
Maybe they had been meant to leave Oxford, she had begun to think. Michael had met Strider’s mother there. Maybe Oxford was the past.
On a Saturday morning, Lanette stood in the kitchen. Sallow light filtered through the windows. They had washed one pink-tiled wall from the grease of however many meals past. Larry had mowed most of the lawn before the mower broke down.
The boys were waking from their first night in the new house. They had gotten home late after spending two days with a young, energetic teacher at Gallagher’s school who had taken a shine to the boys’ sweet natures. She had treated them to a Native American festival near Portland and their first trip to the ocean. Now they were curled on Larry and Lanette’s naked mattress, their eyes blinking back the blue glow of a blank television screen.
“Good morning, Papa,” Strider said. “Good morning, Mama.”
“Medicine!” Lanette called as she pulled out the plastic bin of the boys’ medicines.
Larry sighed. Lanette sighed.
“We haven’t been here 24 hours, and I’m tired already,” Lanette said.
Strider wrapped himself in a newly donated bathrobe. He pushed open the pummeled screen door.
The fenced yard was flat and bounded, and all around were neighbors in other houses. So different from the woods. Strider walked to a spindly tree in the middle. In a few weeks he would start a new school. For the first time, he would not need special education. The teachers at his old school had signed off on paperwork saying that he had pulled even with the rest of his pack. In spite of everything, he was on track.
He looked up at its branches. They were hung with burnt-red pears. They smelled of musk and wood and the promise of sweet, and he stood there wondering how he might get the fruit down. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Still wearing his bathrobe on the first morning at his new home, Strider played with sticks and leaves in a backyard that was so different from the woods where he had spent the summer. Produced by Russell Goldenberg, Elaina Natario, and Emily Z. Fortier Close

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Ethics and persistence pay off in trophy for Wisconsin elk hunter

Activate your digital access. Ethics and persistence pay off in trophy for Wisconsin elk hunter Paul A. Smith , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published 3:27 p.m. CT Nov. 9, 2018 | Updated 6:16 p.m. CT Nov. 9, 2018 Dan Vandertie, 56, of Brussels, Wisconsin, poses with the 6-by-6 bull elk he shot Nov. 8 while hunting near Clam Lake. This fall marked the inaugural season for elk hunting in Wisconsin following a 1995 reintroduction of the native species. (Photo: Karlee Vandertie) CONNECT COMMENT EMAIL MORE Dan Vandertie grew up on the dairy farm in Brussels, Wisconsin, that he and his wife, Julie, now own and run. It was there he learned to hunt, mostly small game but also some deer. It’s also where Vandertie, 56, still lives and does most of his hunting. Owners of small dairy farms don’t get paid time off. He normally fits his hunting between the morning and evening milking of the farm’s 35 cows. Elk hunting? More like the stuff of dreams. For starters, the animals weren’t even present in the Badger State for most of his life. A 1995 reintroduction of 25 elk changed that. But the first regulated elk hunt in Wisconsin history wasn’t held until this year as the northern herd grew to more than 200. RELATED: New DNR app Hunt Wild Wisconsin available for smartphone users And even then, the odds of drawing one of four tags offered through the Department of Natural Resources lottery were about one in 9,500. But Vandertie, with the help of his 25-year-old daughter, Karlee, decided to take a shot and submitted the $10 application. Shortly after the drawing was held last spring, a DNR employee kept leaving messages on Vandertie’s answering machine. It went something like: “Hello, this is Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist. You and I need to talk.” “I thought, OK, did I do something wrong?” Vandertie said. The next day he found out: Absolutely nothing. In fact, the first part of his dream was fulfilled. Vandertie was one of four winners of the state’s elk tag lottery. “Kevin has a good sense of humor,” Vandertie said. “Once I heard I won, I had to sit down.” Next on his list was scouting and learning about the Clam Lake area where the hunt was to be held. As a lifelong resident of Door County, Vandertie knows the “thumb” of Wisconsin as well as his own hands. But Ashland and Sawyer counties, including the thousands of acres of Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest used by the northern elk herd, were pretty much foreign country to him. Over the summer and fall, the generosity of fellow Wisconsinites would make Vandertie feel like he’d lived in Clam Lake his entire life. There were John and Brenda Maier of Sturgeon Bay, who run True North Guiding and Outfitters and helped hang tree stands and show Vandertie around the Clam Lake area. There was the group of bear hunters who let Vandertie stay in their cabin near Clam Lake. There were groups of loggers who offered updates on elk sightings. There was a local upland bird hunter named Ernie who drove Vandertie around to help him learn the area. And two Wisconsin men he met just this year, Troy Piotrowski of Amherst and Mitch Bemis of Beldenville, who helped him on his hunting outings. And of course there was Julie, his wife, who stayed home and milked the cows when her husband broke away to try to fill his elk tag. Vandertie made two trips to Clam Lake after the season opened Oct. 13. On the first, from Oct. 20-25, he passed up at least three chances at big bulls. Two were on private property he didn’t have permission to hunt, and the third was at 300 yards with a crosswind. When he turned down the shot, the landowner (who was at his side), told Vandertie “you’re a good hunter, you can come back any time.” Vandertie returned to Clam Lake on Wednesday to continue his quest. On Wednesday night, he and Piotrowski visited a logging camp and learned of an area that had recently been cut. Thursday morning they found elk at the spot, including a 6-by-6 and a 3-by-3. But the bigger animal moved toward a forest road, presenting a risk of a violation if shot. Vandertie demurred. They then moved to a private property where he had permission and found a bull that had seven points on one side and two on the other. Vandertie passed that opportunity, too. “I thought if I was going to shoot an elk, I wanted a different one,” Vandertie said. “I knew I’d never get another Wisconsin tag.” It was now late morning and Vandertie and Piotrowski went back to the cabin for a bite to eat. The barometric pressure was dropping, Vandertie said, and animals seemed to be really moving. The pair changed tactics for the afternoon. By 1:30 p.m. they set up a ground blind on a high point in the new clear-cut where they had seen elk that morning. A little after 3:30 they spotted motion. The 3-by-3 bull they had seen earlier walked into the open. “Where’s the big one?” Vandertie said. A few minutes passed and there it was. The 6-by-6 stepped out and looked directly at the ground blind. Several minutes passed before the bull relaxed and turned its head. The moment presented an ethical shot. The animal was broadside at 175 yards. Vandertie put the cross-hairs of his .300 Winchester Short Magnum rifle on the elk and squeezed the trigger. The animal didn’t move, so Vandertie chambered another round and fired again. The bull walked 40 yards, staggered and fell. Both shots had passed through the vital organs. The Door County dairy farmer was soon standing over his first elk in Wisconsin’s inaugural elk hunting season. “Never expected anything like this,” Vandertie said. “Just unreal.” The animal was aged at 5 years and estimated to weigh 750 pounds by DNR biologists. As all elk hunters know, much work remained. The animal needed to be gutted and quartered. Vandertie’s circle of friends was about to get larger, however, and made quick work of it. A bowhunter who had come out of the nearby woods to congratulate Vandertie got on his cell phone and called the others in his hunting party. Within minutes, eight men appeared and helped carry elk parts out of the clear-cut. Piotrowski, an award-winning taxidermist, caped the elk and is planning to mount it. Bemis, a butcher, will help process the meat. After the DNR had taken samples Thursday, Vandertie had one more job to do. He headed to the loggers camp in the forest to deliver fresh venison to the men who had shared their local knowledge with him. “I’ve made so many friends through this hunt,” Vandertie said. “I’m almost sad it’s over. But I know how fortunate I was. It’s something I’ll never forget.” Top Headlines from Sports:

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YouTube Is Now Available On Nintendo Switch – IGN News

8 Nov 2018 10:40 AM PST YouTube Now Available on the Nintendo Switch Share. By Nick Santangelo
True to earlier reports and rumor suggestions, Nintendo has added a YouTube app to the Switch, and it’s available for download right now.
Users can now watch anything from YouTube’s extensive library while using their Switch in both docked and handheld modes. Switch owners with existing YouTube accounts can log into them on the console to access their subscriptions, viewing histories, playlists, and more.
On Monday, some Nintendo fans noticed a teaser for a Switch YouTube app on Nintendo of America’s website. Nintendo didn’t officially announce anything at the time, but Nintendo Europe and YouTube employees today noted the app’s availability. Exit Theatre Mode
“Kick back and relax with YouTube on your Nintendo Switch, ” tweeted Nintendo . “Enjoy entertainment like music videos and shows, plus gaming live streams, how-to guides and much more. YouTube is now available to download from Nintendo eshop.”
YouTube is just the third streaming app on the mostly games-only Switch. While Switch still doesn’t have a Netflix app, the Switch got a Hulu app in 2017. The other video service on Nintendo’s console is the Japan-only Niconico.
For more on the latest developments in the world of Nintendo, be sure to tune into our weekly show Nintendo Voice Chat for a breakdown of the biggest news, releases, and more. And, for our thoughts on what you should play on your Switch, check out our updated list of the top 25 Nintendo Switch games below.
rnrnWritten by IGN Staff”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:”01″,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”25. Blossom Tales

rnrnBlossom Tales feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch. The game has no shame in how much it actually borrows from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and thatu2019s in no way bad thing. It may be a short game, but the moment to moment gameplay brings a ton of nostalgia and satisfies the craving to play something so familiar yet adds new challenges along the way.

rnrnu2013 Brian Malkiewicz”,”height”:540,”width”:960,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:”02″,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”24. Kirby Star Allies

rnrnKirby Star Allies proves that some adventures are much more fun with friends. Even if those friends are AI, Star Allies still brings frantic four-player fun thatu0027s continually a blast, thanks to countless ally combinations and a wonderful charm. Its scenic settings, crazy, over-the-top final boss battle, and catchy soundtrack make it a perfect package that only gets better when using stylish team attacks to destroy everything in your path.

rnrnu2013 Brendan Graeber”,”height”:560,”width”:999,”url”:”×560-1533584962805.png”,”styleUrl”:”×560-1533584962805_{size}.png”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:”03″,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”23. Super Mario Party

rnrnSuper Mario Party is the best Party in two console generations. Itu2019s done away with some, but not all, of the slowness, you get to play a ton of great minigames with the cool, but not perfect Switch controllers, and that infuriating randomness of awarded stars at the end of a game is u2026 still a problem. But even those painful upsets feel like less of a party killer this time, because Super Mario Party, especially in the team-based Partner Party mode, is competitive, strategic, and, above all, a lot of fun.

rnrnu2013 Sam Claiborn”,”height”:675,”width”:1200,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:”04″,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”22. Puyo Puyo Tetris

rnrnA perfect marriage of two excellent and timeless puzzle games, Puyo Puyo Tetris is a feature-packed collection worthy of being installed on every Switch. Whether popping in for a quick game of Tetris, battling it out in split-screen multiplayer, flexing your skills online, or puzzling your way through story mode, Puyo Puyo Tetris will keep you coming back for years. Back in 1989, no GameBoy was complete without Tetris and that same sentiment stands today with Nintendou2019s modern handheld.rnrnu2013 Peer Schneider”,”height”:600,”width”:1067,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.png”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:”05″,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”21. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

rnrnSome folks say that there are too many Wii U ports coming to Switch. Those people have obviously never played Captain Toadu0027s Treasure Tracker. This phenomenal spin off is charming, challenging, and downright cute on any platform, and time. I mean, look at his little vest!

rnrnu2013 Zachary Ryan”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:”06″,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”20. Minecraft

rnrnMinecraft is without a doubt one of the most accessible exploration and adventure games there is, still feeling fresh even years after its initial launch. It puts creativity above all else, and has an insanely deep set of tools to enable that. Its Switch version is particularly exciting in that it can be played cross-platform with PC, mobile, and even Xbox One players, making it the best way to play it on the go.

rnrnu2013 Tom Marks”,”height”:800,”width”:1600,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:”07″,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”19. Overcooked 2

rnrnOvercooked 2 takes the simple premise of preparing a meal with a friend or loved one and flips it on its head by dialing the insanity up to ten and forcing you to work together in chaotic kitchens that might just tear your relationship apart. Youu2019ll battle kitchen fires, conveyor belts, and even wild animals in a frantic race to cook together across a variety of dynamic stages.

rnrnu2013 Brian Altano”,”height”:844,”width”:1500,”url”:”–1540511337211.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”–1540511337211_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:”08″,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”18. Hollow Knight

rnrnHollow Knight can be incredibly demanding, but you get way more back than what you put into it. The expertly crafted Metroidvania map that is the kingdom of Hallownest has an absurd amount of paths to explore, bosses to fight, and secrets to uncover. Thatu0027s all drawn in a somber but expressive art style that gives the adorable bug people who live their lives, and stories, of their own.

rnrnu2013 Tom Marksrn”,”height”:1080,”width”:1920,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:”09″,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”17. Night in the Woods

rnrnNight in the Woods is a master class in interactive writing. Every character has depth, their struggles and shortcomings feel familiar and painfully real, and the interactions between them are especially impressive and varied considering itu0027s all delivered via text-based dialogue. Coupled with a bold, striking art style and a somber look at the state of the world today, Night in the Woods is a must-play on Switch.

rnrnu2013 Cassidee Moser”,”height”:686,”width”:1280,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:10,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”16. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove

rnrnShovel Knight is easily one of the best platformers of the last decade. For four years and counting, Yacht Club has put so much care into making every pixel of Shovel Knight into a perfect tribute to classic games, and every new expansion manages to bring new and exciting mechanics that keep things interesting. With Treasure Trove, you get not only the original game and the expansions released so far, but also everything that will come out in the future. On top of Switchu2019s portability, what more could you ask for?rnrnu2013 Andrew Goldfarb”,”height”:540,”width”:960,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:11,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”15. Into the Breach

rnrnInto the Breach distills turn-based strategy games down their purest essence. Its bite-sized fights are like little puzzles, but your tools to solve them are the strategies you figure out along the way. Itu0027s FTL roots bring amazing replayability to the table, and there are enough different combinations of enemies, allies, and upgrades to keep it fresh for a long time to come.

rnrnu2013 Tom Marks”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:12,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”14. Octopath Traveler

rnrnSquare Enixu0027s Octopath Traveler doesnu0027t try to reinvent the wheel on classic JRPG titles, instead fine tuning the genreu0027s winning elements to create a fun, beautiful and often challenging title that hits all the right nostaglic notes. Octopathu0027s strength is its deep and dynamic combat system, and its unique way of layering together multiple stories even if they never quite come together the way youu0027d think. More than just a tribute to previous generationsu0027 best JRPGs, Octopath reinvigorates the genre and gives back as much as you put into it.

rnrnu2013 Terri Schwartz”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:13,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”13. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

rnrnWhen we first saw Skyrim running on a portable system, on a plane no less, none of us actually believed it could be done. u0022You canu0027t cram that many side quests onto a single cart!u0022 we screamed, u0022Itu0027s scientifically impossible!u0022 Turns out, we were wrong. Skryim on Switch is every bit as sprawling, and epic as it is nearly anywhere else. Plus, you can cosplay as Link and Link is cool.

rnrnu2013 Zachary Ryan”,”height”:630,”width”:1200,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:14,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”12. Fortnite

rnrnFortnite air drops one hundred players on to a giant, chaotic battlefield where youu2019ll smack each other with cartoon hammers, drive golf carts, shoot rockets and build forts, of course. As the map shrinks, your survival chances grow until one player is the last one standing. Itu2019s addictive, incredibly fun, and totally free to play – until you decide to spend a bunch of V-Bucks on backpacks and goofy costumes, that is.

rnrnu2013 Brian Altano”,”height”:540,”width”:960,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:15,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”11. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate

rnrnThe Nintendo Switch makes it possible to get the best of both *worlds* with Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. You can play using a comfortable pro-controller, but you can also slay its more than 100 monsters in person with friends. On top of the ridiculous amount of content packed in, you can also play as an adorable cat and pet alpacas.rnrnu2013 Casey DeFreitas”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:16,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”10. Xenoblade Chronicles 2

rnrnXenoblade Chronicles 2 is a standout RPG that manages to keep its story, combat, and exploration interesting over the course of at least 70 hours of adventure through an impressively varied and rich world. Simply put, this is an excellent game full of tough, memorable battles, and a positive message.

rnrnu2013 Leif Johnson”,”height”:540,”width”:960,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:17,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”9. Stardew Valley

rnrnBorn out of Harvest Moon, it makes perfect sense that Stardew Valley fits right at home on the Switch. The farming life sim is wonderfully open ended, letting you forge your own country path with fishing, fighting, farming, and falling in love. Additionally, being able to take advantage of the Switchu2019s sleep mode helps take some of the pressure off of not being able to save in the middle of a day, even if a few other bugs in the port are still waiting to be squashed here.

rnrnu2013 Tom Marks”,”height”:1080,”width”:1920,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.png”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:18,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”8. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

rnrnMario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle faced no shortage of skepticism before its launch. (Mario has a gun? And heu2019s hanging out with the Rabbids?) But UBisoft Milanu2019s robust strategy game proved itself with some truly challenging levels and accessible but complex turn-based gameplay, while also finding a way of marrying the Rabbids and Mushroom Kingdomu2019s senses of humor into one, charming experience.

rnrnu2013 Jonathon Dornbush”,”height”:675,”width”:1200,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:19,”albumTotalCount”:26},{“caption”:”7. Dead Cells

rnrnDead Cells fuses breakneck motion with an emphasis on risk-and-reward for an incredibly engaging action-platformer. Itu2019s rewarding in its flexibility in a way few games are. Each easily digestible run through its beautifully detailed and shifting levels goads you to push the limits of your ability, and crushes you when you get too comfortable. There are layers of strategy and tactics buried not only in the immediate choices you make, but in the grander metagame, making it one of the very best action platformers you can on your Switch.

rnrnu2013 Brandin Tyrrel”,”height”:1080,”width”:1920,”url”:””,”styleUrl”:”{size}.jpeg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”IGNu0027s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games”,”relativePosition”:20,”albumTotalCount”:26}]’ data-ads-disabled=’false’ data-ad-frequency=’3′ data-image-size=’1280w’> IGN’s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games 10+ IMAGES

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