Parents' Guide to


By Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Cheer-worthy fable of animals, friendship, ecosystems.

Willodeen Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 2+

Love it!

age 12+

I read this book out loud to my 9 and 7 year old . I did not screen it properly and didn't know about the whole family perishing in a wildfire. The book is overall lovely, with rich visual language and wonderful messages. I think the event of her entire family perishing is too harsh for a youth book. I wonder about why this was the choice to create a grief stricken character, surely there are less intense ways. I am putting the age rating at 12+ for this reason. Unless this is something that has happened to a child, making Willodeen a character they can relate to, I have concern that it puts seeds of fear in young children. I modified the language , softening the memories about the fire- such as hearing her family scream as they died. this is a book that is part of DART, from BraveWriter, which is a lovely way to explore the linguistic elements of the book.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (3 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Katherine Applegate's tale of two tweens, their love for misunderstood creatures, and magic born of righteous fury will delight animal lovers and anyone who's ever been outraged by harm to innocents. Eleven-year-old characters Willodeen (orphaned, introverted, traumatized, a scientist at heart) and Connor (motherless, kindhearted, and a brilliant artist in the making) will have readers on the edge of their seats cheering their efforts as they strive to protect the baby screecher brought to life by Willodeen's tears. They'll also love the supporting cast of characters, from orphan hummingbear Duuzuu to the two old women who care for Willodeen, who enrich the story. Along the way, there's a lot of practical, accessible detail about symbiosis (a relationship between two unalike organisms), ecosystems, and how they work. Carlos Santoso's detailed, appealing illustrations enrich the story by bringing the characters and scenes to life.

Book Details

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