A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The author's Acknowledgments give some information about the creation of the first U.S. National Park in the Great Smoky Mountains, along with some "real-life heroes" of the park's creation, whom interested readers can research further.
The world is big and powerful, and there are a lot of things you can't control. But there are some things you can control, and no matter how small they might be, you should do what you can to make it better, or at least keep trying to do what you can. Things are constantly growing, changing, and dying. They won't always be the same as they are now, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Nature has to stay in balance for everyone and everything to survive. We're all part of the same world and we have to find a way forward together. The choices we make are shaped by who we are and what we've learned, and they also shape what we become.
Positive Role Models
Willa's a great role model for compassion, empathy, perseverance, and courage. She helps everyone, even people she thinks of as enemies and those who see her as an enemy. She does everything she can to protect her forest home and its inhabitants. Her adoptive father is a good model of integrity and self control. Her adoptive siblings are Cherokee, and her sister Hialeah also models courage, perseverance, and loyalty. Most villains are shown not as evil but as people who are doing available jobs to feed their families. Except for the Cherokee siblings and fantasy creatures like Willa, everyone else is White.
Violence & Scariness
Fantasy violence includes large, dark, ghost-like creatures and giant snakes that attack humans and kill them with magical powers. Blood is mentioned a few times but not described. Gunshots and screams are heard. One mention of the sound of breaking bones. Grotesque fantasy creatures in a dark, eerie place threaten the protagonist. Real-world violence is mostly from guns. Hunters shoot a mother bear, which dies, but there's a safe resolution for her cub. Wolves threaten to eat a human. Past murders are mentioned. Logging activity is described as murdering trees; fallen trees are described like dead bodies. Characters, both human and animal, are frequently in danger from both supernatural and real-world dangers. Large-scale destruction from an intense passage about a mudslide.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Chewing tobacco and spitting mentioned.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Willa of Dark Hollow is intended as a standalone companion book to Willa of the Wood, by popular middle-grade author Robert Beatty. It can stand on its own, but it picks up the same characters about a year after the events in Willa of the Wood, and readers will get a deeper appreciation of the world and the characters by reading that one first. There's a lot of fantasy violence from large, dark, ghost-like monsters and giant snakes that attack humans and kill them with magical powers. A mother bear is killed, but there's a safe resolution for her cub. Real-world violence mostly involves guns, either threatening with them or fending off attacks. People and animals are often in instense danger. Blood and pain are mentioned but not described in detail. Logging activity is described as murdering trees, and fallen trees are described like dead bodies. An unpleasant characters chews tobacco and spits in one scene. Strong environmental themes about saving natural habitats and needing to live and work in harmony with nature and with other people.
Is It Any Good?
This companion book keeps the emotion and intensity of the first book going strong. Willa of Dark Hollow, like Willa of the Wood, is an absorbing combination of page-turning action and heartfelt emotion. It's intended as a standalone companion book, but it's got all the earmarks of a sequel, picking up with the same characters about a year after the events in the first book. While the story can stand on its own, the characters may not seem as well developed to readers who start with this one.
Big kids and tweens will relate to Willa as she learns how the choices she makes and their consequences are guided by past choices, and how they'll affect the future, too. Lots of strong environmental themes about how everything and everyone in our world are connected, and need to be kept in balance. Best for readers who can handle intense but non-gory violence and spooky atmospheres. Keep a tissue handy at the end.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.