Daisy Castillo is a preteen girl embarking on a new (unwanted) adventure. Her parents are divorcing and she’s moving with her mom to a new home. There’s an ancient forest near the new home and Daisy retreats to the woods and there she meets and befriends Calliandra, a magical half-tree/half-human creature. Calliandra is upset because her parents are missing somewhere in the forest.
There is an evil force looking to destroy the ancient forest and Daisy knows she has to do everything in her power to stop the destruction of the woods. She meets a local boy, Albert Mahoney, just a couple years older than Daisy but he already knows too much about being lost and lonely. He joins up with Daisy and Calliandra in the fight to stop the destruction of the woods.
But all the threats to the woods aren’t from mystical sources … the three discover that there’s a local logging company that is illegally cutting down the forest. This is something Daisy can possibly address directly.
In general, this was a delightful middle-grade reader fantasy. It’s got appropriate childhood drama (divorcing parents), some unique fantasy creatures (the tree-beings), a high-drama goal (save the woods!), and unlikely friendships. I can see where this might appeal to a very specific group of young readers (much as I would have been at this age).
There are moments when the writing is a bit too ‘simple’ – even for middle grade readers (“His head darted to and fro like a cartoon audience in watching a sped-up tennis match”) – the kind of thing that reminds the adult reader that we’re reading a self-published book, and not one that’s had a strong editorial hand.
Still, I generally thought that this would be a worth addition to a school library.
Looking for a good book? Forest Secrets by Laurie Woodward is a middle-grade fantasy firmly rooted on Earth but with some unique characters that help make this a fun and educational read.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Laurie Woodward
publisher: Create Space
paperback, 150 pages