Tuesday, February 24, 2009

OPERATION REDWOOD by S. Terrell French

In OPERATION REDWOOD four young kids take on big business to save a forest full of giant redwood trees. Debut author S. Terrell French has written an adventure filled with creative ideas, spunky ambition, and a love of the environment.

Julian Carter-Li is staying with his uncle and aunt while his mother travels to China to photograph Buddist temples. Things are not going well. Julian doesn't seem to be able to do anything according to the strict rules his aunt has established, and his uncle seems constantly disappointed in him. In fact while alone in his uncle's fancy office, Julian stumbles across an extremely insulting email. It appears that his uncle believes Julian is unruly and "sullen" just like his late father. Julian can't believe what he is reading.

Another email that attracts Julian's attention is from a young girl complaining that IPX, his uncle's company, is planning to destroy an area of redwood forest known as Big Tree Grove. Although he has never met this girl named Robin, Julian can relate to her anger that a huge company like IPX that already has more money than he can imagine, would want to destroy something as important and historical as the redwoods just to make more money selling lumber.

Julian keeps the emails he reads a secret until he hears his aunt's plans to send him off to Math Camp for the summer. He appeals to his friend Danny for help. When he tells Danny about the emails, Danny begins to concoct a plan that would keep Julian from spending his summer doing math calculations and instead possibly saving the redwoods.

What follows is a daring adventure. Julian and Danny scheme to get Julian out of the city and off to Big Tree Grove where he can help Robin protect her old-growth forest. They may be just a few young kids, but they have big ideas. Even when their plans seem to be wrecked by Julian's annoying and interfering aunt, they manage to use creativity and determination to keep their eye on the goal.

OPERATION REDWOOD provides excellent reinforcement for conservation lessons and the importance of preserving our natural habitats. It would work for readers in the 8-13 age group for independent reading or as a great classroom read-aloud.

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