HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Leaf and the Sky of Fire
Author: Jo Marshall
Illustrator: D. W. Murray
Publisher: CreateSpace, 2010
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Marshall, Jo. Leaf and the Sky of Fire (published in 2010 by CreateSpace, 7290 Investment Dr., Suite B, North Charleston, SC 29418). As dangerous as fire is to us human beings, what would you think of a raging inferno if you were a small being made of wood? Twigs are adventurous stick creatures who live in the knotholes of ancient trees. Leaf is a Twig and dwells, with his father Pappo, mother Ivy, younger sister Fern, and baby twin brothers Buddy and Burba, in his home, the Old Seeder, a huge cedar tree in the South Forest. One day, a strange, old Twig named Mook arrives from the far away North Forest on a tooler (bird) named Pesky with an incoherent tale about a star, the moon, and Twig babes who need help. Mumma determines that Mook is sick with brittlebark, and the only way to cure him is to take him to the Long Ice on Echo Peak, so Pappo and a chipmunk named Whisper take Mook to the glacier.
While they are gone, Leaf decides to fly on Pesky to the North Forest to see if there really are Twig babes who need to be rescued. He finds that there is a huge chasm between the North and South Forests, but a large sugar pine tree has fallen from one edge to the other forming a bridge and thus providing a way of escape. He also notices that the North Forest seems almost dead. Pesky takes him to a cave where he meets Mook’s granddaughter Star, her brother Moon, and six little Twigs named Breeze, Sand, Moss, Cone, Mist, and Pool, along with their pets, the looksalot (chameleon) Veil and three stickytoes (salamanders) Click, Chirp, and Crunch. They and Mook are the only ones left after their forest and their families had been destroyed by barkbiters (bark beetles).
Leaf sends Moon back on Pesky to warn Pappo who, after he returns with Mook, heads to the North Forest with Moon and the Cappynut Twigs, Sapper and his twin sons Ruffle and Tuffle, to see if they can help. Meanwhile, Leaf and Star set out to bring the Twig babes to the South Forest, along the way battling the barkbiters, an evil weasel, and a cougar and her kits. A surprising friend, a spirit bear, arrives to help. A forest fire, which Leaf accidentally and unknowingly sets while fighting the beetles, chases them to the chasm. Will they make it in time? Like its predecessor, Leaf and the Rushing Waters, this story is an environmental fantasy designed to provide a thrilling tale of excitement for youngsters to read which also will introduce them to some of the difficulties facing our natural world. Bark beetles are real insects which attack and destroy millions of trees and even whole forests. Two more coming books in the Twigs Stories series will be Leaf and the Long Ice later this year and Leaf and Echo Peak in 2013.