Book Review: Leaf and the Rushing Waters by Jo Marshall

I’m posting this a bit late, but I hope now to get back to my weekly book review feature on Mondays. Balancing a new baby with my writing, editing, and teaching work was tough. Now that the lil bug is a bit older (and nappier) and summertime has lightened my teaching load, I have more time for reading.

You may recall my Writer Wednesday feature about Jo Marshall. Jo was kind enough to send me the books in her Twig Stories series (if you haven’t checked out that post, please do so: the artwork is beautiful!).

This week, I’m reviewing the first book in the series, Leaf and the Rushing Waters. Here is the blurb from the publisher:

When a melting glacier bursts through an ice dam, the Rushing Waters river is set loose on an old growth forest. The flood surrounds an ancient tree, where impish, stick creatures – the Old Seeder Twigs – are stranded. Their fate is tied to an enormous, sinister beaver named Slapper – the chomper colony leader. A young Twig named Leaf and his fearless friend Rustle fly on a gigantic leaf over dangerous grasslands seeking help from the fearsome Slapper. Unexpectedly, jittery chipmunks and a mysterious Twig stranger join the perilous mission, and offer protection. Still, the journey proves far more treacherous than imagined, and their chance to rescue Leaf’s tree home fades. Time is growing very short. The Old Seeder is drowning. A goliath beaver must build a mighty dam, but will he even try?

Twigs live in a fragile world of old forests and magnificent glaciers threatened by climate change events, yet Twigs stick together to survive.

Royalties are shared with nature conservancy nonprofits that protect wildlife and forests.

Twig stories are illustrated by D.W. Murray, a Disney artist. His credits include Mulan, Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear, Curious George, and many more. He is a recipient of the New York Society of Illustrators Gallery and the 2004 Gold Aurora Award.

The story follows Leaf and his family, who live in Old Seeder. They are called “Twigs,” and they remind me of little elves or pixies (again: do check out the awesome artwork!). They go through the forest hunting and gathering, and I love the names they have for things: skullfaces for hornets, chippies for chipmunks, etc. In this episode, there is a great flood that threatens the lives of Leaf’s family while Leaf is away.

Cover, front - Rushing WatersTo me, the book had the feel of an epic—like The Hobbit, only focused on the environment instead of fantasy. I appreciated the description of nature. Because the Twigs are so small, they appreciate the magnitude of elements of nature that humans tend to forget. I am one to sit outside in nature for hours, appreciating every nuance, so these details resonated with me. If I had read this as a kid, I would no doubt have gone outside and gotten into all sorts of things, come back to the house covered in mud and leaves and such, and told my mom (as I protested a bath) that I was out pretending to be a Twig all day. I am definitely going to share these books with my little one when she is old enough.

My only wish for the book—and this is because I like dark things—is that I wanted the beaver (an integral part of the story) to appear even more intimidating. Of course, seeing as this book is for kids, that might have been a little overboard :-)

All in all, I enjoyed this work and look forward to reading the next books in the series.

Oh, and did I mention that you should really check out that artwork!


My publisher, Barking Rain Press, is running a summer reading special. Now through July 10, you can buy any book for just $1.99, including my young adult novel The Scarred Letter, a reboot of Hawthorne’s original, examining bullying, individuality, and truth in a modern setting.

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