I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Forest Secrets by Laurie Woodward
Release date: January 20th, 2016
Publisher: A Magical Mystery
Genre: Middle grade, fantasy
The half-tree, half-human beings lived a secret existence deep in the old growth forest.
When 11-year old Daisy Castillo discovers a plot to destroy the forest, she tries to halt the approaching evil while keeping these magical creatures from being discovered.
But danger waits in every shadow. For if these corrupt men succeed, the Forest People will die. A few surprises are in store, as some unknown and undiscovered friendships hold the key to her success.
Fate hangs in the balance as Daisy faces her deepest fears, including heartbreak from the past, to rise up against all odds.
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel. It’s much younger than I usually read and the cover did nothing to attract my attention. It looked childish and rather ridiculous. I went in with low expectations, but it ended up surprising me how much I actually enjoyed reading it!
The main theme of the book is environmental protection. One day while exploring in the woods next to her newly built neighbourhood, Daisy meets Callandrai, a tree-like person who is distraught because she cannot find her parents. This sets the two girls off on a mission to stop the further destruction of the forest and save those who inhabit it.
I could see how this book would be an excellent tool for teaching children about protecting the environment. It pulls at your heartstrings and you cannot help but cheer on the main characters. It’s also not very long, about 160ish pages in length. It is fast paced and doesn’t waste anytime getting into the action. As for the action, there is a lot of it. Plus some mystery and suspense that keeps the reader turning the pages trying to find out what will happen next.
Besides reading a middle grader book (the writing was obvious and vocabulary much simpler than I am used to) the thing that irked me was the random insertion of Spanish words. Yes, Daisy’s family is of Mexican origin, but slapping a few Spanish words onto a page doesn’t make the character feel or be Mexican. It was strained and read as trying too hard. Middle grade and young adult books NEED more diversity but this should be done in an organic way.
Overall, while I am most definitely not the target audience for this novel, it was an enjoyable read that warmed my heart and truly taught me not to judge a book by its cover!