Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Review: Forest Secrets: A Fairy Houses Mystery




Forest Secrets: A Fairy Houses Mystery
By: Tracy Kane and Kelly Sanders
Published by:  Light-Beams Publishing; Date: 2009
ISBN: 978-0-976628-91-0
Price: $8.95
Ages: 7-11
Rating:  5 stars
Reviewed by: Wayne S. Walker

Synopsis:  What would you think if you were walking in the woods and found a real “fairy house” built inside a tree trunk? Eleven year old Kate Evans has just moved to Portsmouth, NH, with her mom who has begun a new job with the Strawbery Banke Museum. They live in a cottage owned by an elderly woman, Mrs. Annie Lennox. Kate’s dad had died when she was very young. Kate likes to build fairy houses and is thrilled to find that their new home borders a forest on the Lennox property in which she can investigate the wonders of nature. She meets a neighbor her own age, Luke Carver, who is also a nature lover. Luke helps his Uncle Rick who works to take care of Mrs. Lennox’s gardens and also the grounds in nearby Prescott Park.
     
 Kate and Luke discover a tooth fairy’s house hidden in the trunk of a tree in which they find an old stone with a mysterious clue written on it, which leads them to a gnome house, and a clue there leads them to still another miniature house built in a stump which contains one final clue about a treasure. However, Mrs. Lennox is considering selling her estate to a developer. And Luke’s friend Trevor is acting strange. Can they solve the mystery and find the treasure? Will Luke and Kate be able to save the forest and also to help Trevor? Forest Secrets not only tells an interesting story that youngsters will enjoy reading but also illustrates good behavior. When Trevor tries to get Luke to do something wrong, Luke refuses and walks away. Kate tries to help Trevor deal with the fact that his parents are divorcing and he and his mom are moving away by talking about the death of her father. I liked the way the plot connects the present with the past.

Overall thoughts: Author Tracy Kane began by writing and illustrating The Fairy Houses Series of children’s books, consisting of Fairy Houses, Fairy Boat, and Fairy Flight. These books sparked an interest in building fairy houses which has fostered various workshops and community events, helping to bring families closer together as they explore the wonders of nature. Then when Tracy’s husband, Barry Kane, photographed many of the fairy houses, two books of fairy house photographs resulted, Fairy Houses Everywhere! and Fairy Houses and Beyond, the second of which I have previously reviewed. This sixth release in the series expands the appeal to middle grade readers with a touch of mystery and will be popular with both children and parents. By the way, the Strawbery Banke museum is a real living history museum that sounds as if it is a neat place to visit (14 Hancock Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801-4669; (603) 433-1100; www.strawberybanke.org/ ). Forest Secrets is a real keeper for youngsters who like mysteries.

Links: www.fairyhouses.com (series), www.light-beams.com (publisher)

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