Tuesday, August 25, 2009
by Lorne Rothman
(iUniverse / 0-595-49588-5 / 978-0-595-49588-7 / June 2008 / 184 pages / Ages 9-12 / $13.95)
Reviewed by Donna Nordmark Aviles for PODBRAM
Auja, a young red oak tree, has discovered an amazing creature nibbling on her broadleaves – a collective of tent caterpillars that can actually speak to her! With Southcrop Forest in danger of extinction at the hands of the hewmen and their rollers, the collective – known as Fur – is the only being that can save the trees from certain doom. But doing so will mean a long and arduous journey through dangerous terrain to gather a secret gift that will save Southcrop Vision (the trees’ ability to communicate with one another through their roots, soil and leaves) and the forests themselves. With constant encouragement from his new friend Auja, little Fur takes on the challenge, devoting his entire short life in a quest to save the trees.
Zoologist Lorne Rothman, has delivered in Southcrop Forest a unique combination of science and fantasy designed, I believe, to spark the reader’s imagination as well as one’s conscience to the ecological dangers of over-cutting in our forests. Additionally, there is such an abundance of educational information intertwined throughout the story, as well as in the author’s end notes, that the book could easily be used as a classroom tool. Determining the proper age group for the book, however, might prove to be a challenge. Some of the well researched science and language is quite advanced while portions of the dialog and general story are more appropriate for a younger reader. The target audience might fall somewhere between 10 and 15 year olds, with careful oversight and discussion given to the younger end of that range to ensure that they fully comprehend the story and the science.
The book ends with an intriguing final sentence that leaves me thinking that perhaps this is only the beginning of Mr. Rothman’s eco-fantasy adventures!
See Also: Lorne Rothman's Biography