It is my stop on the blog tour for the wonderful 'The Secret Wild'. My review follows and if you click on the link there's an exclusive Q&A with the author Alex Evelyn about her journey to publication from Golden Egg Academy to Walker Books. Plus some tips on growing plants in your classroom!
Fern has spent her whole life in the rainforest, and loves nothing more than climbing, exploring and talking to the trees. When she suddenly has to leave all that behind and move to London, with only an eccentric uncle for company, Fern feels entirely uprooted. But when she meets a little plant that can understand her every word, it seems that things are looking up! That is until strange things start happening in the city: giant lily pads on the Thames, monkey vines on the London Eye, and now her new friend is starting to wilt... Can they solve this growing mystery together - before it's too late?
I utterly adored 'The Secret Wild'. It is charming, joyous and an eccentrically absorbing read, while at the same time being a brilliant ode to nature and the world of plants. Comparisons have been made to 'Paddington' (with Fern moving to London from the Amazon) and 'The Little Shop of Horrors' but more recently readers will find the same delights, quirks and environmental themes in the writing of 'The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy', 'Twitch' and 'My Name is River'.
There are some authors that just seem to wrap you up snugly in their storytelling and Alex Evelyn is one of them. Her writing is rooted in warmth and wit, blossoming with vibrant, lush detail with characters that are wildly memorable. Fern is a fabulous character. I loved her wildness, curiosity and sense of adventure - I think everyone should walk around barefoot! Her friendship with Woody is touching and sweet, and I thought it was great how they were essentially very different personalities that worked together: Woody with his anxieties about plants and Fern's trouble understanding the city. Special, the unique plant Fern discovers, is a lively and charming creation - I sort of imagined it being a bit like baby Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy. And oh! Uncle Ned! What a wonderful character. There are not many adults in children's fiction you would want to take home with you, but everyone needs an Uncle Ned in their lives!
On top of all this, Alex Evelyn has brought to life a London that is vibrant and gloriously rewilded (not without its dangers, of course.) The details about different (and mischievous) plants and their interactions with people and buildings is just fantastic. This is at once a gripping story but also a captivating introduction to the plant kingdom. There is a lot of love for people and nature in this book.
It's no secret: this is one of my favourite books of the year so far. I can't wait to see what Alex Evelyn grows for us next!
Thank you to Walker Books for my copy to review and the chance to take part in the blog tour.