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Heartwood Paperback – November 25, 2013
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From the Author
Once upon a time I began a story about an ancient forest. Then I forgot about it. Five years later as I wandered through a magical forest, I laid my hands on a huge old gum tree. The story of Heartwood rushed into my mind. I remembered the tale of the Smashbasher, the squirrels, the magpies and the faeries, even though I hadn't thought of it for years. It seemed to me that the tree was insisting I finish this story and share it.
My beautiful artist friend Kirsty Chalmers was so captivated by Heartwood that she dreamed up a series of fabulous images to go with the book. Every picture was handcrafted - drawn, inked and watercoloured - not a scrap of digital drawing, just the beauty that flowed through her hands.
I wish I could go back to the forest I walked in and tell that magnificent tree that Heartwood exists now and is being read by children everywhere, but alas, we live too far away. One day perhaps I will go back ...
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Top customer reviews
One day the peace of the forest is broken by a horrible noise. The creatures recognize it as a machine that knocks down trees. They call the bulldozer a “Smashbuster.” Forest inhabitants are in a panic about what to do, until Bella calls them together and warns them to stop quarreling if they intend to save their home from destruction. Bella berates them for their indifference and selfishness. She develops an ingenious plan to save the forest, but they must all agree to cooperate and work side by side.
The author skillfully reveals the clever plan step by step. Both the forest creatures and the humans who operate the machines have a lot to learn. This book of approximately fifty-five pages is a perfect chapter book for readers in the seven to ten age group. That is not to say that older readers and even adults will enjoy it. The charming and delicate illustrations done by Chalmers add much to the character and mood of the book. They are really exquisite. I cannot find anything not to like in this offering. Story-line flows nicely, the characters are believable, the lessons carefully crafted , and the artistic touches so well executed.
Pick up a kindle or paperback copy and enjoy!
This book (dedicated to her boys and to the trees that insisted she finish writing it) is a love letter to the woods that Pollyanna holds so dear. It is a positive story that should evoke a real love of Nature and will promote the value of protecting our green areas. It will encourage children to think about the world around us, and the far-reaching consequences of a simple act like tearing down a tree.
We meet Seth and the Tulley tree and more, and the squirrels, magpies and faeries that live amongst them, and it becomes very clear that there's a lot at stake when The Linney comes under threat. Pollyanna writes with delicate style, a light touch that makes each individual group very appealing and brings out their strengths when they join together. The story is brisk and exciting, a real page-turner.
Kirsty Chalmers provides the excellent illustrations that intersperse the story. Some of the real standouts include the beautiful magpies in the Tully tree, gathering nectar, and all the woodland creatures gathered together to discuss the impending doom of The Linney in the heart of the Kelsey tree. Kirsty really captures the beauty of the woodland and its occupants, and expresses the distress of the squirrels in their stance and the faeries in their tiny faces. The chapter headings are equally charming, showing scampering squirrels and beautiful sunrises and more.
The chapters are long enough to pack in plenty of story and detail, but not so long that they will intimidate children. The magical location of The Linney is excellent for young imaginations, and will inspire children to imagine themselves there in the mushroom circle. Importantly, this is a positive story with a constructive message. It inspires compassion, understanding, responsibility, and increases awareness of social and enviromental challenges. At one point, Simmy the faery imagines striking out at the humans, but his friend Bella points out that they must instead show the humans what they are destroying, that they have lost the old knowledge. It demonstrates that there are other ways of fighting for what we believe in that don't involve violence.
Perfect for reading at home or as part of a wider topic in the classroom, this is excellent reading for children about an important subject. You too will care about what happens to The Linney and its innocent occupants, and children will return again and again to visit their woodland friends.
What I liked best about Heartwood: This is a sweet tale full of Nature and the magic of Nature. It features magpies, squirrels, fairies, the trees and the marvelous Bella the Crow. It humanises the men working in forests, and promotes love for people as well as Nature. It has many charming illustrations that are simple and unassuming and match the text very well. Heartwood has a sweetly happy ending.
What could have been done better: There are many "extra characters" in Heartwood, which were only given cursory introductions, unlike the trees which were given very good introductions. My children had to ask, "Whose that again Mummy?" a couple of times to figure out which squirrel is that, or which fairy is that. They could easily follow which tree is what and what kind of animal lived in it though. As an adult I had not trouble following along.
Heartwood reminds me of my favourite childhood film, Fern Gully. Heartwood seems universal to me as it uses creatures and flora from a variety of places. The best thing about it is that the animals of the story solve their problems by getting the attention of the men in order to make friends, not to instill guilt or fear.
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