Monday, October 30, 2017

A Forest, A Flood, and An Unlikely Star by J.A. Myhre, with Illustrations by Acacia Masso


Just thirteen-years-old, Kusiima has no time for school, sports, or hanging out with the other boys in his African village. With no father or mother to take care of him, he works long hours to support his grandmother and sickly baby sister. Then one day, Kusiima s life suddenly changes when he travels into a nearby protected forest. In the forest, Kusiima is presented with many choices, all with uncertain outcomes. Should he go along with illegal logging? Help to save an endangered baby gorilla? Follow a donkey to who knows where? With each choice, Kusiima has to make yet another decision about what is right in front of him. As he does, he meets a mysterious doctor who holds the key to his past and his future. In the end, Kusiima is faced with the hardest choice of all. Can he forgive a great wrong and heal a broken relationship? Readers of all ages won t want to put down this exciting book that addresses current realities like AIDS, malnutrition, and environmental destruction, all set in a richly detailed African adventure story. Following along as Kusiima makes his decisions, readers will find themselves considering their own choices and growing in empathy for others. This action-packed tale of a boy, his sister, and an orphaned gorilla is also a clear call to give up bitterness and forgive deep hurts, restoring broken lives and relationships. A Forest, a Flood, and an Unlikely Star is the third book in the Rwendigo Tale Series and follows Book One, A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest, and Book Two, A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue.
My Thoughts:

I've enjoyed the other two books in this series, but I think this one has been my favorite. I've completely fell in love with these books. They're just beautiful stories, full of courage, and worthy of a spot on our shelves. This one had a bit of a different style than the other two, in that the animals never talk. One of them comes off intelligent, but never reveals things through words like they do in the other books. While I did connect with this book even more than the other two, I'm curious about the change.

Each book in this series was written as Christmas presents for the author's children for four years. (There's one more book to come.) From the time I read the first book, I've found this especially appealing to the books. It just makes them sweeter and more special.

In this particular book, we meet Kusiima. He lives with his grandmother and little sister, Ngonzi. Ngonzi is very sick, but Kusiima and his grandmother aren't sure how to help her, with such a limited income. Aside from working at his job, and worrying about his sister, he soon becomes mixed up with illegal activities. In the end, he has many choices to make.

While this book can be read perfectly fine alone, I do think it would be better to read it after the other two, just to understand the "Creator and Messengers" portion of the story. This part is briefly explained in the epilogue.

There are some parts, one in particular, that are disturbing. I'd probably wait a bit on reading this(or handing it over) to highly sensitive children. It doesn't hide the harsh realities of those living in Africa, like death, marriage to stay out of extreme poverty, AIDS, poaching, hunger, and so much more. (The author does say in her note that this book was written for older children and teens.)

Overall, this is a lovely series and I highly recommend them, especially if you want your children to "travel" to Africa for a little while.

*I was given a free copy of this book.

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