BOOK REVIEW: Willodeen by Katherine Applegate

If you know me, you know that I rarely pass up a book penned by Katherine Applegate. She has held a presence in my reading repertoire since I was teeny tiny; so hearing of the release of her latest, Willodeen, sent me into a spasm of can't-hardly-wait excitement - and for good reason. Willodeen is neither a forgettable fable for children nor a tree-hugging tale for earth lovers; rather, it is a masterfully crafted ode to nature, diversity, and the ecosystem, spotlighting the interconnectedness of the universe through a cast of lovable characters and creatures you wish you could meet in the real world.

Orphaned as a young child when her parents and brother were consumed by a wildfire, eleven-year-old Willodeen has not had an easy go of it. Taken in by kindhearted Mae and Birdie, Willodeen, who has never easily fit in with her peers, is content with her station in life. Though she misses her biological family, she is dearly loved by Mae and Birdie, has food and a roof over her head, and, the best yet, has free reign of the woods surrounding her home, where she spends her days seeking out the elusive {and now endangered} screechers.

Screechers, known for being foul-smelling, odd-looking creatures with tusks, tails, a snout, and quills, have been a favorite of Willodeen's for ages. Due to the town of Perchance's new bounty on Screechers, however, their numbers are quickly dwindling. You see, the town's residents feel that Screechers mar the village with their unsavory smell and appearance and want to be done with them; therefore, hunting them to extinction is their primary goal. Willodeen, who was taught to love all creatures great and small by her Pa, disagrees with this sentiment, believing that Screechers play an important role in nature's web, and proceeds to stretch herself thin trying to save the Screechers because she has noticed something of the utmost importance...with the Screecher population drastically dropping, so has the Hummingbear population.

Hummingbears, if you've yet to have the pleasure of meeting one, are winged creatures whom craft shimmering bubble nests atop blue willow trees. A source of income for the people of Perchance, the presence of Hummingbears during the annual Autumn Faire have brought tourists to the town for years, bolstering their wealth. This year, however, not a single Hummingbear has appeared. In their place is nothing but devastation in the form of mudslides, fires, droughts, and fevers that continue to ravage Perchance. When Willodeen receives an unexpected birthday gift brimming with magic from a new friend named Connor, she feels that she holds the key to save the Screechers, uncover the truth about the missing Hummingbears, and restore peace, harmony, and balance between nature and townspeople.

I literally cannot with this book y'all. It was so. good. Relevant, timely, and unforgettable. Applegate has woven a tale that is equal parts heart-wrenching and wondrous. Willodeen, as a character, is relatable and lovable. Her compassion is catching; and response to adversity within her life is admirable. Connor, on the other hand, is a friend we would all love to have by our side. Then there are the Screechers and the Hummingbears - the former known for being beastly, the latter known for being charming; yet both hold a place in my heart, along with a secret desire that they were a part of the real world. Cheers, Mrs. Applegate, for yet another magical adventure that will appeal to readers of all ages - and perhaps inspire more to respect and love nature, along with the animals around us.

Star Rating: ****



ellie said...

I love Applegate too..and find myself going back to that series she wrote with her husband so many moons ago that you can't find in the YA of our library anymore. She definitely has become the children's author that everyone loves. Thanks so much for the beautiful review ❤❤❤

Caitlin'nMegan said...

Such a wonderful book indeed. Lovely commentary too. Thanks so much!

Ivy's Closet said...

What a wonderful book! Love your review. It does look like a keeper!

Ananka said...

Sounds good and love the cover :-D

© cat eyes & skinny jeans | All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates by pipdig