Southcrop Forest by Lorne Rothman

8/10 A great stepping stone to the “World Out There” for the inquisitive young mind.

The trees of Southcrop have made a striking discovery-one that could change the world for all their kind. But they are trapped in a forest fragment and face destruction from human sprawl. They cannot spread their new-found gift across the land.

Then Auja, a young oak, finds little Fur amongst her branches. Fur is a legendary creature not seen for a thousand years, a single intelligent being emerged from a colony of caterpillars. Fur is small and meek and slow, but can travel through the forest and talk with trees. Auja persuades the reluctant Fur to help.

Fur embarks on a desperate quest to find the source of all tree power-the mysterious Riverside Farm. Here he must gather the trees' great treasure and carry it across Oak River to the forests of Deep Sky.

Fur's long trek is fraught with peril as he races to reach Riverside Farm before it is destroyed. Ghoulish enemies hunt him while machines wreak their deadly havoc. Yet Fur's journey is one of enlightenment as he learns about the ecology of his world, the threat of the human species, and finally, the secret of his existence.

So what we have here is a simple young teen book that is quite a well rounded story in itself, but to me seems like it could be a great stepping stone to the “World Out There” for the inquisitive young mind.

This story revolves around some of the hot topics in the media today. (Remember “An Inconvenient Truth?”) In Southcrop Forest we follow the lives of trees as they see their days are numbered as old growth forest and realize urban sprawl is a grim reality. As they are discussing what can be done to save their “Farm,” the knowledge, spirit and soul of their forest, they discover the legendary “Runes.” These are a sentient colony of tent caterpillars that have hatched in the branches of a young oak tree named Auja. Through the friendship Auja kindles with the Runes, now named Fur, she convinces them to embark on an epic journey to save the Southcrop Farm. No small undertaking for a 3 inch long crawler with ADD and an 8 week lifespan!

And that’s what puts the hooks in this story. This little piece of “Faction” is complete with endnotes. All the insects, animals, and Native Canadian place names are fully supported with backing references to help you find out more. I know when I was growing up this was taken care of by my grandmother and her library card, but I’m sure the internet will do to get more information and help inform a new generation of conservationists.

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