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Let’s talk about Willodeen by Katherine Applegate. From #1 New York Times bestseller Katherine Applegate, a singular middle-grade novel about a girl who risks everything to help a handmade creature who comes to life.
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Author: Katherine Applegate
Genre: Middle-Grade (ages 9-12)
The earth is old, and we are not, and that is all you must remember . . .
Eleven-year-old Willodeen adores creatures of all kinds, but her favorites are the most unlovable beasts in the land: strange beasts known as “screechers.” The villagers of Perchance call them pests, even monsters, but Willodeen believes the animals serve a vital role in the complicated web of nature.
Lately, though, nature has seemed angry indeed. Perchance has been cursed with fires and mudslides, droughts and fevers, and even the annual migration of hummingbears, a source of local pride and income, has dwindled. For as long as anyone can remember, the tiny animals have overwintered in shimmering bubble nests perched atop blue willow trees, drawing tourists from far and wide. This year, however, not a single hummingbear has returned to Perchance, and no one knows why.
When a handmade birthday gift brings unexpected magic to Willodeen and her new friend, Connor, she’s determined to speak up for the animals she loves and perhaps even uncover the answer to the mystery of the missing hummingbears.
A timely and timeless tale about our fragile earth and one girl’s fierce determination to make a difference.
Willodeen is targeted towards children ages 8-12, but I think reading on their own is better for ages 10-12 and can be enjoyed from the age of 5 and up if read aloud with a parent. Some words may not be in the vocabulary yet for kids ages 5-9ish but can be determined using context clues and through quick discussions while reading with an adult.
If your child loves animals and nature, they will love the whimsical setting of Perchance, the village that the main character, Willodeen, calls home. WIllodeen is ten and turns 11 in this story. She is an introvert by nature and prefers to spend her time in the woods, observing the magical hummingbears that Perchance is famously home to and the dreaded screechers. They stink and screech and are being driven to extinction by the villagers. Through an unexpected friendship and a little magic, we see Willodeen find her purpose in her quest to save the screechers and perhaps even her whole town. This story has an underlying theme of environmental consciousness and an important lesson about learning to live alongside nature and the gifts the earth has to offer, even if it takes almost losing these gifts to understand their true purpose.
I give Willodeen by Katherine Applegate 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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