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Wing & Claw #1: Forest of Wonders Paperback – February 7, 2017
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With its engaging hero, talking animals, arcane magic, moral issues, and unresolved plot, this first of a proposed trilogy promises more exciting forest wonders. (Kirkus Reviews (starred))
As in life, the choices are never black and white as Park’s realistically flawed characters struggle between looking out for the greater good or for themselves. (Publishers Weekly)
While the adorable talking animals will win hearts, the complex ethical dilemmas Raffa faces about how to use (or not use) his talents lend a maturity to the narrative... True hearts and true friends prevail in Forest of Wonders, and readers will anxiously await the trilogy’s next installment. (Shelf Awareness)
A strong addition by a wonderfully talented author to diversify middle grade fantasy collections. (School Library Journal)
A provocative moral tale about the relationship between humans and animals.… In the end, the ambiguity of the message is one of the novel’s strengths. In a genre that often paints good and evil in black and white, Park has written a book with a lot of gray. (New York Times Book Review)
From the Back Cover
Raffa Santana has always loved the mysterious Forest of Wonders. For a gifted young apothecary like him, every leaf has the potential to unleash a kind of magic.
When an injured bat crashes into Raffa’s life, he invents a cure from a rare crimson vine that he finds deep in the Forest. The powers of the vine are stronger than Raffa could have imagined. His remedy saves the animal but also transforms it into something much more than an ordinary bat, with far-reaching consequences.
Raffa’s experiments lead him away from home to the forbidding city of Gilden, where troubling discoveries make him question who he can trust . . . and whether exciting botanical inventions, including his own, might actually threaten the very creatures of the Forest he wants to protect.
This enchanting new series from Linda Sue Park richly explores the links between magic and botany, family and duty, environment and home.
“A book of many wonders, including lovable young heroes, astonishing apothecary magic, and the funniest talking bat ever. It’s amazing, unpredictable, and so, so smart; I absolutely loved it!” —Tui Sutherland, New York Times bestselling author of Wings of Fire
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Wing and Claw Book 1: Forest of Wonders, has much to recommend it. The cover is gorgeous, and the main character, Raffa, is admirable and talented. His cousin makes fun of him for his small size, but he is the better apothecary student.
Raffa, his parents, his cousin, and his uncle live in a village and are all apothecaries (or apothecaries in the making). They live near the Forest of Wonders, where they collect plants that can be used to lessen pain and heal injuries. Raffa has a gift, an ability to intuit whether combinations will help or harm. He saves a badly injured bat, and it leads to consequences he couldn’t possibly have imagined.
There is conflict in the story, and peer pressure, and bad behavior by adults. For once, a bat is one of the good characters (although at the expense of crows and owls, who are depicted as doing bad things). For my taste, for a book called Forest of Wonders, too much of the story was set in the city and not enough in the Forest itself. I hope more time will be spent in the Forest in the remaining two books in the series.
The story has the nice message that every life is worth saving. It also questions the relationship between humans and animals and the rights that animals have. The book does not stand alone; it ends very much in the middle of the story. Wing and Claw Book 1: Forest of Wonders is intended for children age 8-12/grades 3-7. I think it will appeal to children who love animals and nature (although parents should be aware that some animals are intentionally injured in the story). A 3.5 star book.
I read an advance reader's edition of Wing and Claw Book 1: Forest of Wonders.