Forest of Wonders by Linda Sue Park
Something Completely Different! A Book for Grades 4-8
This is the first book of the Wing and Claw series; a colleague will be talking about books for this grade range during a presentation and I figured I’d expand my reading horizons and give one a shot. I don’t think I’ve read anything for this age group since I was a part of it!
Twelve year old Raffa is an apprentice apothecary with a natural gift for creating poultices and infusions. When he finds a badly injured bat by his house he asks his parents if he can do his best to heal it. They agree, and Raffa goes into the woods with his best friend and cousin to find a vine rumored to have amazing healing properties which hasn’t been seen in decades. So begins the journey.
This book has a little bit of everything. A child prodigy, jealousy, revenge, good intentions twisted, rich people, poor people, talking animals, trustworthy adults, non-trustworthy adults, and because of the audience a bunch of kids getting in trouble way over their heads setting out to save, not quite the world in this case, but the animal kingdom. Kids will like that the story is about peers, adults reading it will like that while the main character’s parents are portrayed as staid and unadventurous Raffa begins to appreciate them when they are not around.
My only complaint is the ending! I feel that a book that is part of a series should still have an ending. This was more of a “to be continued” like you have in two part television series but the sequel is nowhere in sight. A bombshell is dropped on the characters (actually more than one) and part of the group is separated from the rest, oh and they are being pursued into the wilderness and BAM! the book ends. Not cool Linda Sue, not cool.