Operation Redwood†by author S. Terrell French is wonderful, a trite word I know,
but her book is truly wonder full. With an underlying premise that estrangements can be mended,
whatís broken can be fixed, and philosophical differences can be bridged, French crafts an
engaging environment-centric coming-of-age-story for tweens that succeeds on all fronts.
Over the summer school break, twelve-year-old Julian Carter-Li is left in the care of his
cold-hearted, supercilious uncle and aunt, Sibley and Daphne Carter, while his free-spirited
photographer mom pursues a project in China. (Julianís dad died in a motorcycle accident five
years ago.) Then, he meets Robin via an intercepted email and comes to learn that the ancient
redwoods on the land next door to her familyís land are scheduled to be logged by IPX
Corporation—and Uncle Sibley is CEO of IPX. Operation Redwood is launched.
The plot is well written, with humor, and the characters are well-drawn, distinct,
and—except for grumpy ole Uncle Sibley and mean Aunt Daphne—appealing. (And Sibley
and Daphne are great antagonists.) Incorporating Chinese-American and Latino characters provides
refreshing diversity. The narration captures the childrenís excitement at being part of
something greater than themselves. The vocabulary is appropriate, even tossing in a word now
and then that some readers might have to reach for, which all good books should do.
Operation Redwood†is not preachy, and is quite inspiring. This book would be an
excellent choice for school and public library reading programs, and classroom discussion,
as well as any parent wanting to instill environmental principles in the future stewards
of this planet.
Author S. Terrell French is an environmental lawyer, and lives with her husband and three
children in San Francisco, California.