cover image Forest of Wonders

Forest of Wonders

Linda Sue Park, illus. by Jim Madsen. Harper, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-232738-3

Through his preternatural apothecarial talents, 12-year-old Raffa Santana restores a bat’s injured wings and apparently gives the creature the ability to speak. Raffa soon discovers that the potent vine he used has other dangerous powers, spurring a journey to the city of Gilden to warn his cousin Garith about its pitfalls. There’s no shortage of action or ethical dilemmas in this endearing tale, first in Park’s (A Long Walk to Water) Wing & Claw trilogy. In the city, Raffa finds himself caring for a pair of raccoon babies and making new friends, including Kuma, a scrappy girl known for taming a mighty forest bear. A malicious plot to use experimental herbal infusions on innocent animals is part of an overarching theme in which Raffa wrestles with how to use his knowledge—for healing or for deception and even willful harm. As in life, the choices are never black and white as Park’s realistically flawed characters struggle between looking out for the greater good or for themselves. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown. Illustrator’s agency: Shannon Associates. (Mar.)