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Operation Redwood Hardcover – May 1, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7–When Julian Carter-Li, 12, becomes ill, he is sent by his school to the office of his wealthy, bullying uncle with whom he lives. There he sees email from a Robin Elder degrading the man for being a moron and world class jerk, and he quickly becomes fascinated with this spirited person. Through their exchanges, Julian learns that homeschooled Robin lives next to a grove of redwood trees that his uncle's company plans to harvest, and Julian ditches math camp to see the trees for himself. Drawn to both the forest and Robin's family, Julian embarks on a campaign to save the trees, and the children take up residence in the Elder family's tree house. With his friend Danny and Robin, he faces down his uncle to save the forest. Fast paced and full of fun, the story captures the excitement and satisfaction of defeating a large corporation. Situations are sometimes resolved too easily, and character development is spotty, but the story motivates readers to turn the pages regardless. Julian's relationship with his younger cousin is well done, balancing the tension of a favored kid with genuine affection. Teachers will be able to use this novel for Earth Day discussions and can foster conversations on environmental activism of all types. The resolution reminds readers that everyone, no matter how large or small, can take action on issues that are important to them.–Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

S. Terrell French is an environmental lawyer and first-time author. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and three children, and has made many favorite trips to redwood forests.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 700L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810983540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810983540
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,436,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I wonder if contemporary children's authors ever look at the writers of the past and think to themselves, "It was easier then. You could get away with so much more." Morality, at least in retrospect, was so clear cut and uncomplicated in the books of the past. You could have a kid defeat a great big villain with relative simplicity and folks wouldn't object at all. Or maybe not. That's how we think of old children's books... as simple. But when you try to sit down and think of all the realistic novels of the past, their conclusions are never as free and easy as all that. I'm mentioning all this because I just finished, Operation Redwood, one of the finest children's novels of the year, and while reading the book I kept thinking about how author S. Terrell French never cheats her readers. She is constantly covering her tracks and making this a strangely realistic middle grade novel, albeit one about kids trying to take down a big business. It's a first novel on the author's part, but French has crafted an interesting, intelligent, and ultimately satisfying debut that will undoubtedly garner more than a few fans. A book that shows us that doing the moral thing is a complicated business.

Let's say you're sick and your uncle Sibley Carter (with whom you've been staying while your mom works in China) has left you in his office for hours and hours. You are Julian Carter-Li and after your nap you're bored. You sit in your uncle's chair and there, right before your eyes, is an email in his in-box with your name on it. And after that? A message with the subject of "Sibley Carter is a moron and a world-class jerk." It has begun.
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Format: Hardcover
In OPERATION REDWOOD, four young kids take on big business to save a forest full of giant redwood trees.

Debut author S. Terrell French has written an adventure filled with creative ideas, spunky ambition, and a love of the environment.

Julian Carter-Li is staying with his uncle and aunt while his mother travels to China to photograph Buddhist temples. Things are not going well. Julian doesn't seem to be able to do anything according to the strict rules his aunt has established, and his uncle seems constantly disappointed in him. In fact, while alone in his uncle's fancy office, Julian stumbles across an extremely insulting email. It appears that his uncle believes Julian is unruly and "sullen" just like his late father. Julian can't believe what he is reading.

Another email that attracts Julian's attention is from a young girl complaining that IPX, his uncle's company, is planning to destroy an area of redwood forest known as Big Tree Grove. Although he has never met this girl named Robin, Julian can relate to her anger that a huge company like IPX, that already has more money than he can imagine, would want to destroy something as important and historical as the redwoods just to make more money selling lumber.

Julian keeps the emails he reads a secret until he hears his aunt's plans to send him off to Math Camp for the summer. He appeals to his friend, Danny, for help. When he tells Danny about the emails, Danny begins to concoct a plan that would keep Julian from spending his summer doing math calculations and instead possibly saving the redwoods.

What follows is a daring adventure. Julian and Danny scheme to get Julian out of the city and off to Big Tree Grove where he can help Robin protect her old-growth forest.
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Format: Hardcover
"We need wilderness preserved -- as much of it as is still left, and as many kinds -- because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed. The remainder and the reassurance that it is still there is good for our spiritual health even if we never once in ten years set foot in it. It is good for us when we are young, because of the incomparable sanity it can bring briefly, as vacation and rest, into our insane lives. It is important to us when we are old simply because it is there -- important, that is, simply as idea."
-- Wallace Stegner, 1961

"The computer beeped. Julian glanced at the screen, and saw a message so astonishing that he sprayed ginger ale out his nose and all across his uncle's computer screen.
"The subject of the newest e-mail read: 'SIBLEY CARTER IS A MORON AND A WORLD CLASS JERK!!!'"

Susannah T. French, environmental lawyer-turned-first-time children's book author and Left Coast member of the "Class of 2K9," cites Elaine Konigsburg and Jean Craighead George amongst her own childhood reading influences. In OPERATION REDWOOD -- which takes place in my neck of the woods -- French employs the cleverness of Konigsburg and the reverence of George in a hijinx-laden activist tale of two boys and a girl who plot to protect a privately-owned grove of old growth redwoods from being clear cut by a corporation.

"'Today, experts estimate that about 4 percent of the original redwood forest remains.'
"Julian frowned. He pictured ninety-six giant trunks lying on the forest floor and only four trees left standing. That couldn't be right."

Julian Carter-Li has been having a truly miserable time of things since his mother departed San Francisco on her grant-underwritten photography trip to China.
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