Today is Arbor Day – go out and plant a tree! To celebrate the day, I decided to read a book about saving trees. Giant, magical redwood trees.
The Ancient One, by T.A. Barron is the second book in a trilogy about the adventures of thirteen year old Kate, but it is an entirely stand-alone novel. You don’t need to read the other books in the series to understand and enjoy this one.
Kate is visiting her Great Aunt Melanie, who lives in a rural town in Oregon where logging companies have done so much clear cutting of the forest that they are running out of trees to cut down, and work is almost impossible to find anymore. Tensions are high and many citizens are angry about the loss of income.
But, a new source of trees has recently been discovered – an ancient redwood forest in the Lost Crater, a previously inaccessible extinct volcano. Aunt Melanie has been working to protect the trees from the loggers – they may be the oldest redwoods on the planet and they were a sacred place to a lost Native American tribe, the Halamis.
Aunt Melanie is quite the mysterious figure, loving and supportive, but also full of secrets. There’s something just a bit different about her. And she has a special connection to her walking stick, with its carved owl’s head handle. Strange things seem to happen when she is around. As Kate is being chased by some boys in town, she trips and falls, but the boys keep running right past her, as if they didn’t see her laying in the mud, as if she wasn’t even there. And suddenly, Aunt Melanie is there, dismissing Kate’s confusion and making curious comments about being … invisible?
Kate and Aunt Melanie hike into the Lost Crater, to hopefully stop the loggers from cutting down the redwoods. When Kate must return to the redwood grove to retrieve Aunt Melanie’s accidentally left behind walking stick, she is transported back in time, where she becomes involved in a battle to save the same forest from an evil force.
I truly enjoyed this fantasy novel with its strong environmental message, it’s a combination that I haven’t read before. The world of the past is well developed and Kate’s encounters, unfortunately, mirror the struggles in our own time over climate change. It will definitely make you think about nature and how we should be protecting it, for our future.