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Review of Forest World

Forest World
by Margarita Engle
Intermediate    Atheneum    195 pp.    g
8/17    978-1-4814-9057-3    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-9059-7    $10.99

Eleven-year-old Edver wishes his cryptozoologist mother would pay attention to him, instead of traveling the world looking for rare creatures in danger of becoming extinct. Even when she’s home in Miami, she doesn’t seem to notice that Edver is friendless and alone, with only computer games to keep him company. Then Edver is sent to Cuba to spend the summer with the scientist father he’s never met and is shocked to learn he has a twelve-year-old sister, Luza. Luza knew about Edver, but she resents the years he spent with their mother and the privileged life he’d led in Miami, which contrasts sharply with the poverty she’s experienced in Cuba. With no internet, Edver has to entertain himself with what Cuba has to offer, and he and Luza begin to bond over their mutual love of the jungle’s plants and wildlife. And when they run into a poacher hiding in the jungle who sells rare species to collectors, they must work together to save their country’s living heritage. Through alternating chapters, Edver’s and Luza’s stories are told in Engle’s signature verse style. The importance of biodiversity in Cuba, and how Cubans are trying to save their own flora and fauna from tourists, poachers, and climate change, are important themes; as are Cuban families divided by politics (“Two fragments, two children, divided up / like leftovers / after a big picnic. / It happens all the time in Cuba”). Appended with a glossary of biodiversity terms.

From the September/October 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Alma Ramos McDermott

Alma Ramos-McDermott is currently a teacher-librarian at Lake Trafford Elementary School in Immokalee, FL, and was the Schools Coordinator for the Blue Zones Project Southwest Florida. Alma is a life member of REFORMA, a member of YALSA, and has also served on the Pura Belpré selection committee. She holds an MS in Library Science from Simmons College and an MS in Education from Brooklyn College. You can find her online at shouldireaditornot.wordpress.com.

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