Sunday, May 31, 2009

Review: Fern Verdant and the Silver Rose

Summary: Fern wishes she had normal parents and a normal name. Instead, she has eccentric botanist parents who named her Fern, after her father’s favorite plant. Lily, Fern’s mother, assures her one day she’ll understand their love of plants, but Fern can’t believe it. She hates plants and could do with less of them in her life.

Then Lily disappears suddenly while attending to a mysterious and rare Silver Rose. Fern and her dad are heartbroken, but have no idea what could have happened, until one day, Fern learns she has a one-of-a-kind talent: she can communicate with plants, and so could her mother! Using her newfound skill, she learns that her mother is in terrible danger, and she is the only one who can save her. With a little help from her friends, the plants . . . -- Knopf

I have been reading a lot of middle-grade fiction lately, and I can't believe how many terrific books are out there for our kids. FERN VERDANT AND THE SILVER ROSE by Diana Leszczynski is another great middle-grade novel that I will be recommending to our friends. This book had a little bit of everything -- interesting characters, action, adventure, and important messages. It also was a very fun book to read!

I really enjoyed this book; however, when I first started it, I was a little disappointed in the character of Fern. I thought she was kind of disrespectful to her parents (probably not that unusual for a child turning 13,) and I was worried that she would make a bad impression on children who were reading this book. I was so happy to see that Fern's selfish behavior only lasted for a few pages. She quickly realized her responsibilities and what was important in her life; and I loved how she developed and matured by the end of the story. She ended up being a wonderful, strong, and resourceful young girl who was anything but self-absorbed.

FERN VERDANT AND THE SILVER ROSE was definitely action-packed, and I think kids will love following Fern and her friends on their adventure. There is definitely enough excitement and strange characters in this story to attract even the most reluctant reader. The "bad guys" in this story are just so unique, and I especially liked how the author created such a vivid picture of them. I could so see this book as a movie!

I was impressed with Ms. Leszczynski and her ability to create memorable characters and an intriguing story. She certainly has a way with words and her descriptions are just incredible. Not only could I picture all of the characters, but I could "see" the trees, flowers, and plant-life too. It is evident to me that she is very passionate about saving the earth, and the message was very clear throughout the entire story. I am hoping that the author intends to write more books about Fern -- the ending of this book is pretty open-ended and even gives a hint as to Fern's next adventure. I am a fan of both Ms. Leszczynski and the character Fern and definitely intend to read the next novel in this series when it comes out.

One of the things that I liked most about this book was that the author chose to discuss so many important social issues in this novel. In fact, FERN VERDANT AND THE SILVER ROSE was the winner of the 2008 Green Earth Book Award Honor. This novel definitely showed children the importance of respecting our planet, but it also showed characters who wear natural clothes and only buy clothes made in countries with safe working conditions. I love that children who read this book will pick up on the many "green" messages; and, hopefully, they will become more conscious of the many ways that they can help to preserve the environment.

Besides the wonderful message out protecting our planet, I also liked some of the other messages that I found in this story. As the character of Fern grew up, she began to realize very important things. For example, she became much less focused on herself and her desires and began looking at the larger picture. In addition, she learned to appreciate her family and especially her parents; and she also learned how to be a good friend. I definitely think Fern's behavior in this book will go a long way in showing kids some of the character traits that make up a "good" person.

Thanks to the author and Knopf for sending me a copy of this book!


Charlene Ann Baumbich said...

Lovely review. I especially loenjoyed your comments about unique bad guys and the authors ability to help you see the characters, plus the good news that the author tackled more than one important social issue. You've talked me into picking up a copy to one day read with my granddaughter. (She's only 4.) Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like one to add to our list. I'm always looking for book that both my daughter and I will enjoy.