MG Takes on Thursday

This is my weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books, now with a re-vamped banner!

How to take part:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence. 
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

This week, I’m celebrating …

Written by  Yarrow Townsend
Cover Illustration by MÄ Harel
Published by Chicken House Books

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

The woods swallowed her like a calm ocean, full of gentle rustles and creaks and the drip, drip of dew falling from leaves.

This book in three words:


The Map of Leaves is a thrilling, wild-hearted adventure which utterly gripped me:  a story of nature, healing, accepting friendship and fighting back.  An extraordinary adventure that is perfect for nature-lovers and adventurers of 9+.

12-year-old Orla Carson has lived alone on the edge of the village of Thorn Creek since the death of her Ma, surrounded by her wild garden filled with plants which are her only friends:  friends who she talks to and who respond to her.  I found this symbiotic bond between Orla and the plants utterly enchanting and loved how they offered comfort, advice and warnings whilst my heart ached at the fear and pain that she felt emanating from them as their existence is threatened. 

When a terrible sickness comes to Orla’s village, the Warden blames nature and is determined to get rid of plant life in order to protect the people from this sickness.  Orla does not believe his assertions and has noticed that the plants themselves are suffering.  With her Ma’s book which hides its own secrets, Plants and their Medicinal Uses, she steals away in river boat -along with two other stowaways, Idris and Ariana – determined to find a cure and to discover the truth behind the invading sickness …

So begins an exhilarating, wild adventure brimming with danger, revelations and twists as each of the three children have their own reasons to follow the river and seek answers.  Will they discover the origin of the sickness before it decimates their village and beyond?  Will they be able to save those they love?  Will they find the strength and courage to trust in each other and work together to reveal the truth?

Orla is one of the most complex characters I have met in middle-grade, and someone I was privileged to get to know and understand.  She is roiling in anger, hurt and grief so lashes out as a way to protect herself from further pain.  She is fiercely independent and has put up a shell to protect herself and to survive on her own, and this leads to difficult interactions as she struggles to overcome prejudice and let her guard down, and to trust in others.  When she slowly and tentatively allows Idris and Ariana into her life, she finds a growing strength to believe in herself, and in the bonds of friendship.

There are some wonderful messages about the importance of respecting nature and looking after our environment so that it can look after us.  I loved the reference to herbal remedies under each chapter.  There are also themes of greed, and grasping for power, spreading poison through words and deeds, to the detriment of communities and the natural environment.

The Map of Leaves sings to the heart of nature, to the bonds of friendship, and takes the reader on a breath-taking, unforgettable adventure.

Thank you to Laura Smythe PR and Chicken House Books for a proof in exchange for my honest opinion.

I’d love if anyone who wants to give this meme a go would comment in the comments box and include a link to your post so I can visit, comment and find some great middle-grade recommendations. If you do create a post and are on Twitter, and would like to share your post, please use the hashtag  #MGTakesOnThursday so I can find it, read it and share it!

2 thoughts on “MG Takes on Thursday

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