Reviews for Operation Redwood


BooklistOnline.com Reviews
When his mom heads off for a five-month trip to China, 12-year-old Julian--whose father died when he was six--is left with his wealthy uncle and aunt, the least sympathetic adult relatives this side of Harry Potter's Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia. Things get interesting when Julian discovers his uncle has acquired a grove of old-growth redwoods for logging. With the help of his zany best friend, Danny, and Robin, a girl who lives near the grove, Julian launches a campaign to save the historic trees. French's first novel is a creditable effort, though not an entirely successful one. The kids are engaging, and the story--though purpose-driven and filled with exposition--moves along briskly and plausibly enough until a deus ex machina character appears out of nowhere at the end to resolve the central conflict. Also troubling is Julian's mother's willful neglect of her son, though a number of loose plot ends suggest that this--and a few other issues--might be resolved in a sequel. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall
Julian can't resist reading an e-mail sent to his uncle: "Sibley Carter is a moron and a world-class jerk!!!" Robin, the note's author, is trying to protect a redwood forest from Uncle Sibley's voracious investment company. The book's modern feel balances its pastoral nature; French works in many facts about redwoods without losing the story's focus on its characters. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #4
Like main character Julian, many kids won't know much about old-growth redwood forests to begin with, but by the end of this eco-mystery they will know quite a bit and will probably care, too. The story engages the reader right from the start: Julian, who lives with his uncle Sibley while his mother travels, can't resist reading an e-mail on his uncle's computer with his own name as the subject -- not to mention another message with the subject line "Sibley Carter is a moron and a world-class jerk!!!" Julian manages to connect with Robin, the young author of the latter e-mail, who is trying to protect a redwood forest near her family's ranch from Uncle Sibley's voracious investment company. Julian's life in his uncle's household resembles Harry Potter's at the Dursleys', so it's a relief for Julian to spend time with Robin's family ("something clenched and anxious inside of Julian [began] to melt away"). French works in many facts about redwoods but keeps the focus on the characters; even the secondary characters are distinct and lively. Julian's best friend, Danny Lopez, provides welcome humor; and with his Mexican background and Julian's half-Chinese ethnicity, the book has a modern multicultural feel that balances the pastoral nature scenes. French gives the children some success in their quest to save the redwoods but wisely leaves the ultimate power in the hands of adults, combining child appeal with realism for a satisfying conclusion. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2009 April #1
This satisfying eco-adventure stars sixth grader Julian Carter-Li, who has been left with a rich uncle in San Francisco while his mother researches in China. A leisurely buildup introduces the characters, outlines the issue of cutting old-growth redwoods and recounts the serendipitous series of events that leads Julian to discover and run away from his uncle's plan to send him to summer math camp. Hiding out at Huckleberry Ranch, he and new friend Robin explore the neighboring forest his uncle has a permit to clear-cut. The suspense ramps up as Julian is discovered and returned to the city. Helped by best friend Danny Lopez, he and Robin hatch a series of plans to save the grove. Though traditional in concept--a band of young people, a summer adventure and the timely appearance of a previously unknown relative--the absorbing third-person narrative is modernized with the inclusion of e-mails. Adults play stock roles; the focus is on the young--a group that becomes gratifyingly diverse in age as well as experience and ethnic background. A highly enjoyable read. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 July

Gr 4-7-When Julian Carter-Li, 12, becomes ill, he is sent by his school to the office of his wealthy, bullying uncle with whom he lives. There he sees email from a Robin Elder degrading the man for being "a moron and world class jerk," and he quickly becomes fascinated with this spirited person. Through their exchanges, Julian learns that homeschooled Robin lives next to a grove of redwood trees that his uncle's company plans to harvest, and Julian ditches math camp to see the trees for himself. Drawn to both the forest and Robin's family, Julian embarks on a campaign to save the trees, and the children take up residence in the Elder family's tree house. With his friend Danny and Robin, he faces down his uncle to save the forest. Fast paced and full of fun, the story captures the excitement and satisfaction of defeating a large corporation. Situations are sometimes resolved too easily, and character development is spotty, but the story motivates readers to turn the pages regardless. Julian's relationship with his younger cousin is well done, balancing the tension of a favored kid with genuine affection. Teachers will be able to use this novel for Earth Day discussions and can foster conversations on environmental activism of all types. The resolution reminds readers that everyone, no matter how large or small, can take action on issues that are important to them.-Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library

[Page 82]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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