And therefore, I haven’t missed another day of blogging. In fact, I have lots to share! Do check out my Twitter feed on the sidebar for my tweets from BEA today. I expect to do more tweeting tomorrow as I follow Maureen Johnson around the Jacob Javitts Center, and continue to try to score free books.
Like main character Julian, many kids won’t know much about old-growth redwood forests to begin with, but by the end of this eco-mystery they will know quite a bit and will probably care, too. The story engages the reader right from the start: Julian, who lives with his uncle Sibley while his mother travels, can’t resist reading an e-mail on his uncle’s computer with his own name as the subject—not to mention another message with the subject line “Sibley Carter is a moron and a world-class jerk!!!” Julian manages to connect with Robin, the young author of the latter e-mail, who is trying to protect a redwood forest near her family’s ranch from Uncle Sibley’s voracious investment company. Julian’s life in his uncle’s household resembles Harry Potter’s at the Dursleys’, so it’s a relief for Julian to spend time with Robin’s family (“something clenched and anxious inside of Julian [began] to melt away”). French works in many facts about redwoods but keeps the focus on the characters; even the secondary characters are distinct and lively. Julian’s best friend, Danny Lopez, provides welcome humor; and with his Mexican background and Julian’s half-Chinese ethnicity, the book has a modern multicultural feel that balances the pastoral nature scenes. French gives the children some success in their quest to save the redwoods but wisely leaves the ultimate power in the hands of adults, combining child appeal with realism for a satisfying conclusion.
With that bit of good news, I’m hitting the sheets to prepare for another full day tomorrow. If you’re also at BEA, and happen to see me wandering the halls, do feel free to stop me and say hi!