Shadows in the Forest
by Helen Ridling
BlueInk Scribble

"The next morning before the sun had risen there was a loud but insistent knocking on the door. The wolves pricked up their ears and searched Pede’s face for orders."

Combining the adventurous nature of The Boxcar Children books with the voice of Matilda, this book follows two tiny travelers, Georgia and Max, as they make their way home from boarding school. When the two arrive home, they discover their parents are away and that their sister, Pede, has been caring for herself with the help of a good neighbor, a man the children mistakenly call Mr. Whats It. The adventures unfold as Prina the Apatosaurus becomes the center of attention, and Max meets Charcoal and Ice, two wolves whose father is no longer the Alpha male and who has gone to sit with the Kings. Meanwhile, Max learns that, like his father and unlike the rest of his family, he doesn't possess the power to understand the animals around him. He quickly discovers that sometimes, in order to hear, he must be the first to begin the conversation.

The plot centers around two children's struggle to interact with those around them as they reacquaint themselves with a community from which they've been separated for too long. Max's mother asserts, "I think if you listen carefully, you will understand the animals better. After all, they will only tell you what they want to know." Thus, this book emphasizes the power and importance of clear and effective communication. Because of that, parents may find it an entertaining teaching tool that is perfect for young readers. This book's storyline may resonate with children struggling to understand their place within their classroom or community. More significantly, it may inspire and encourage them to remain involved. Overall, this book is sure to become a favorite for teachers, parents, grandparents, and children alike with its adventure-laden plot and its beautiful artwork.

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