Sunday, April 4, 2010

Southcrop Forest by Lorne Rothman

Reviewed for "ReviewTheBook"

A delightful tale with a strong message.  Cycles of life in the forest told in a friendly way.  How every species on earth depends on another and what that means.  Lorne Rothman has produced an ecological and timely tale for all ages.

The characters draw the reader in immediately.  Little Fur, a colony of tent caterpillars hatched in an oak tree in Southcrop Forest, becomes the lifesaving hero of the plot, under the guidance of Auja, the oak tree. As Fur says, "I'm we" and "we're me", the colony thinks and moves as one. The forest is dying of disease and deforestation, eradicated by the "hewmen" with their giant machinery to make way for development.  A lot of information is in this book and told in a form that allows us to learn about the non-human world around us through this entertaining fable.

These particular tent caterpillars are from very ancient stock called "Runes", which have not put in an appearance for 1,000 years.  They have helped the forest in the past and must do so again. Replenish the soil and bring it back to its previous health so the trees can flourish again. The extent to which environment and habitat are dependent on each other to survive the toxins in the air, the changes in the weather patterns, as well as the lack of coordination with human life is demonstrated so well.  There are also a number of endnotes that are very helpful.

The trees of Southcrop Forest have developed a form of communication with the Runes and with each other, a network through leaves and roots. Through this process they are able to direct the Runes to the "Southcrop Farm" where they will be given what is needed to take to the most important Forest at Dark Sky, giving the Runes the necessary information to bring back the balance and future of the devastated forests around them. The concept of the story and the flow of information through dialogue is wonderful and at the same time very insightful.

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