By: Charlotte Bennardo
Illustrated by: Cathleen Thole-Daniels
Publication Date: October 2016
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 1, 2016
I never thought a book could come along that brought back memories of those highly intelligent rabbits in the classic Watership Down. Although they lived in their natural environment, it was amazing to watch them gift readers with their own culture, language, and mythology. That being one of my favorite books of all time, it is no surprise to say that this particular book was not only perfect to address the environmental issues happening in 2016, but it was also a lovely “taste” of the past.
Jack is a gray squirrel, and the animal we stand beside during this particular tale. Jack is a great character with an older sister who is downright hysterical. In fact, she’ll remind all siblings out there exactly how the “one that came first” really ordered us younger ones around. (LOL. Love ya, sis).
When we begin, Jack is racing for his life away from Fox, not knowing that soon he and Fox will band together with friends, like Owl, Rat, Beaver and others to save their habitat. To these creatures, the huge construction machines and bulldozers that have come to destroy their homeland look much like Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers. Jack must get “supersmart” quite quickly in order to put together a plan to get rid of these things before he and his friends are, at best, displaced forever; or at worst, dead under the wheels of these monstrous metal beings. So what does he do? Jack gets help from his human friend and learns about some simple machines in order to take human technology and turn it against them. Jack believes that he and his small band of small friends can somehow outsmart the humans before harm can come to them.
This story is fun, vibrant, and thrilling. When the crows squawk and the beavers bang their tails and the deer bellow, the reader can almost feel the power of the woods come alive. Even the little illustrations here and there bring all sorts of emotions to the animals’ faces. And, of course, the meaning of it all is there in black and white... This is a world where habitats are ruined on a daily basis. We fell trees, we extract animals from their homes, and the Endangered Species List continues to grow. There are those out there who fight for them; organizations that make it their life’s work to save them, but more help is needed.
Although this will be categorized as a pre-teen book, I recommend this to all ages. As the beloved Watership Down once taught us, sometimes we need to get back to a simple, straight-forward message in order to really understand what pain we continue to bring by wiping out nature.
Quill says: Bring Jack and his story home, and make sure the next generation learns the correct, kind way to treat every species out there.