Parents' Guide to

The Lost Rainforest: Mez's Magic

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Action-packed but scattered tale of magic talking animals.

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While there's lots of action for kids to enjoy in this rainforest-set tale, it's lacking both a strong narrator to hold the story together and a kid-friendly tone when animals speak. Author Eliot Schrefer, who's known for animal-focused tales, is heading into a fantasy-laden realm with Mez's Magic. He stays tight to all his animal characters as they're introduced, which works OK. But as the story reaches the ziggurat and there's a mythology to explore, important setup gets lost when the story is seen through young animal eyes. And two objects in particular -- the sun and moon pieces needed for a ritual to save them all -- are barely described, and barely followed up on. This is confusing, considering their importance.

Something that truly went awry here was the animal dialogue. These young animals sound like psychotherapists -- except for the monkey who shouts "holy monkey butts." That was a relief. A mother vole says to her children, "Let them go about their business without gawking at them. It's what we'd hope for if the roles were reversed." Another animal talks about being "on the defensive." A frog says, "[For] moment-to-moment decisions I'd rather cede to someone else ... for our general leadership needs." The frog is supposed to be a bit uppity and chatty, but most characters end up sounding just the same. Any psychotherapist will tell you, the more you intellectualize, the further you get from real feelings. This dialogue pulls the animals away from real character growth and distracts the reader.

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