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Pre-teen angst, a damsel in distress, an almost Disneyesque potential conclusion — all these elements are woven together by Vermont teacher Katy Farber in her new book for middle school kids. You may know Farber for her popular blog Non-Toxic Kids and her social media community. You may have read one of her articles about health or environmental advocacy.
In this latest project, Farber connects to the sense of adventure and intrigue that captures the attention of older children. She also taps into the idealism that children have not yet lost since they’re still years away from the busy, jaded adults they’re destined to become.
The Order of the Trees becomes a fresh response to the reckless disregard for life that sullies so much of society today. It is clearly written as a work of nonfiction in a way that it neither literally promotes pantheism nor disregards the faith-based notion of creation care.
Here’s what Farber told the Flour Sack Mama community about why she wrote The Order of the Trees:
I was motivated to tell this story because it honors the forest and the wild spirit of Cedar, the main character. Too many kids are disconnected from nature and from experiencing its wonders. I hope that this book will inspire kids to visit local natural places and to see the magic that takes place there every day. I also hope that this book encourages kids to use their voices to fight for what matters to them in their own communities, as Cedar and Phillip do. In addition, Cedar and Phillip face bullying from classmates. I wanted to show their resilience through this experience and how kids can stand up for what is right and each other in small and big ways. I hope that families will gain a strong female role model in Cedar– one that shows girls don’t have to fall into stereotypical roles and become less than their true selves.
I was excited to share this environmentally conscious message with my oldest daughter who reads far above her grade level. She has little interest in nonfiction books, but she was willing to read The Order of the Trees because the story about Cedar and Phillip drew her in. Farber describes her book as a middle grade novel. Since the subject matter is nonviolent and only mildly ventures into boy-meets-girl territory, I decided to let my daughter read it, as long as she agreed to write me a book review from her perspective. Here it is:
A Book Review by Imelia age 9
The Order of the Trees by Katy Farber is a good book to sit down and read. This story takes place at Chester School and in the forest. It is fiction with some science-based facts. The story is a middle grade novel written by a teacher.
This story is about a girl named Cedar and her friend Phillip. There is a story that Cedar was found under a small pocket of roots in the forest, when her soon-to-be parents were taking a hike and found her.
Cedar loves the forest. She invited Phillip into her club called the Order of the Trees, where they listen to the forest. Cedar named the tree she was found under Stella and made her the queen of the forest.
One day there is an article in the paper that says there is a new development planned for Worcester Woods. The workers are cutting down all the trees. In class, Cedar starts getting unconscious and falls onto the floor. Phillip thinks Cedar’s life may be connected to Stella’s. If he is right, will he be able to save her?
Phillip is making a fundraiser to save Worcester Woods. Cedar was taken to the hospital and he plans to break her out. They flee to the Worcester Woods and Cedar seems to get better already, but who would be looking for them? Police, their parents, the nurses?
I liked that this book was about trying to save nature and that it had some adventure in it. I would recommend this book for ages 8 and up. You might enjoy this book if you like nature and some adventure and suspense. So, what are you waiting for? Find somewhere comfortable and start reading!