Finding Wonderland is happy to participate in today’s awesome online kidlit event, Multicultural Children’s Book Day—read more about it on their website, and don’t forget to download goodies like the free Classroom Kindness kit. And make sure you visit the big Linky tomorrow (Friday) for a plethora of reviews of multicultural children’s books, and come to the Twitter party, too! (And keep an eye peeled for a couple of reviews of my own books–yay!) Thank you so much to Becky Flansburg, Valarie Budayr, and Mia Wenjen, the genius bloggers who made it all happen. It’s such a great way to connect with other diversity-minded readers and bloggers. Scroll down below the book review for more info about this great event!

Synopsis: Whisper of the Woods is the sequel to Cry of the Sea, which is the first book featuring narrator Juniper Sawfeather. Fortunately, there was plenty enough in this book to get me up to speed on Juniper’s adventures—all you really need to know is that she saved mermaids from an oil spill and now is known as kind of being “that girl”—which could be good or bad, depending on whether you actually believe in mythological creatures. In most cases, unfortunately for Juniper, it’s bad.

Her latest supernatural encounter doesn’t promise to make her any less…um….famous around town. It starts off with an activist protest (topical!) against the logging of some old growth forest. Juniper’s parents are environmentalists, and they’re butting heads this time not just with corporations, but with family. Her uncle works for the logging company, but some of the forest is on reservation land. Trouble is, her uncle, who is also American Indian, might convince the reservation officials to cede the rights to that part of the forest. And then things get a little…magical. Juniper falls asleep at the base of one of the oldest, largest trees—and wakes up on a branch in midair. Turns out there’s a spirit inside the tree…and the spirit wants company.

Observations: The book I was matched up with for this year’s MCCBD was a great pick. A paranormal/mythological fantasy with a half American Indian protagonist, it was up my alley in multiple ways. Firstly, I appreciated seeing another addition to the realm of books with mixed race main characters. Secondly, of course, you know we love us some spec fic around here.

I also am happy every time I get to read a good quality indie book. Published by Fire and Ice (an imprint of Melange Books), this was a solidly well-written fantasy with a unique premise, with my only minor complaints having to do with production/layout (for instance, I’m weirdly picky about books whose margins seem too narrow to me). I appreciated the environmental themes (again, topical!) and thought they were incorporated into the plot well, without being heavy-handed.

I am not particularly qualified to address how the depiction of American Indian culture was handled, but as far as I can tell, the author did appropriate outreach and research to address issues of ethnicity, and most importantly, all the characters of color (American Indian or otherwise—there was also “my” sort of Indian in there, too! Heh) were fully fleshed-out individuals. There weren’t any “magical Indian” stereotypes to be found—which is the kind of thing I worry about in a fantasy that has mythological elements. Here, the Other isn’t exoticized; rather, it’s a story about real people with real concerns…and a girl who is just a bit magical, and can see the magic in the world and in her own culture(s).

Conclusion: I’m glad I got the opportunity to read this book. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to fans of mythological fantasy—Charles de Lint readers would enjoy it, I think.

I received my copy of this book courtesy of the author/publisher. You can find WHISPER OF THE WOODS by D.G. Driver at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was
founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the
ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school
bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books
into the hands of young readers, parents and educators. 

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US
population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published
have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday,
the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors
on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include
heavy-hitters like Author Carole P.
Audrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers
, KidLitTVCapstone
Young Readers,
 ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom
Tales Press
Lee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go
Live Oak MediaAuthor
Charlotte Riggle
, Chronicle Books and Pomelo

We’d like to also give
a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review
link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of
this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
Links to remember
MCBD site: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers,
Organizations, Librarians and Educators:
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for
Teachers and Parents:
Hashtag: Don’t
forget to connect with is on social media and be sure and look for/use their
official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

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