Operation Redwood

Operation RedwoodOperation Redwood by S. Terrell French. Amulet Books (an imprit of Abrams), 2009. 368 pages. Recommended for ages 8-12. ISBN: 9780810983540.

2010 Green Earth Book Award for Children’s Fiction
2010 John and Patricia Beatty Award

Operation Redwood nurtures the idea that kids can make a difference in the political process. This particular political process involves an old growth redwood forest scheduled to be clear-cut by a company called IPX. Robin Elder, starts the protest off with an angry e-mail to the CEO of IPX, Sibley Carter. Julian Carter-Li, Sibley Carter’s nephew reads Robin’s e-mail as he sits alone in his uncle’s office with a fever too high to allow him to be in school. He forwards the e-mail to his best friend Danny Lopez, then deletes it so his uncle won’t see it. Danny and Julian, in San Francisco, reply to Robin, who turns out to live four hours north of San Francisco in the Redwoods, and thus begins operation redwood.

As I reached the end of the novel three thoughts occurred to me. First, this is the perfect middle grade novel. It’s well paced and nothing too horrible or traumatic happens.  The kids figure out their way through each problem they encounter and are able to carry out the protest they intended. Second, if I were teaching a class in literature and wanted to give an example of “deus ex machine”, this book would be an excellent choice. Third, this is a very Dickensian story. Julian’s aunt and uncle could change places with David Copperfield’s stepfather. Robin’s parents could be David Copperfield’s Aunt Betsy. The person who comes in as the deus ex machina could be Oliver Twist’s grandfather.  The end of the book could be the end of a Dickens novel: in spite of reality, everything works out. The story also seems Dickensian because Dickens wrote so much about injustice and this is a story about environmental injustice.

Julian, Robin and Danny try different methods to save the Big Tree Grove. Ariel, Robin’s best friend, also becomes involved in the fight. Julian and Danny and the reader learn a great deal about redwoods, especially from Robin and Ariel. Robin tells Julian that the national forests do not protect the old growth redwoods from logging. Julian believes it should be illegal to log such beautiful and ancient forests.

Throughout the prose there are breaks for e-mail between the kids. These e-mail messages help to flesh out the characters of Julian and Robin and Danny.

I left Northern California two years ago for the New Mexico desert. Operation Redwood makes me homesick for those beautiful trees.


Blog Reviews:

Cynsations (an interview with S. Terrell French)
A Fuse #8 Production
Jump Into A Book
Killin’ Time Reading
Literate Lives
LitPick Student Book Reviews Blog
Mother Daughter Book Club
A Patchwork of Books
Shelf Elf: read, write, rave
Steph Su Reads: Books Build Friendships and Lifelines

Professional Reviews:


Other Links:

Operation Redwood Website
Book Trailer