Aboreals live and play in the treetops, far from what they once knew generations ago. A young Aboreal, Barra, grows up willful and adventurous- eventually sneaking into her deceased father's study to find out more on his investigations and studies of the Middens. What she finds leads her on an adventure through forest, darkness, and light. With her three friends she races to find a way back home, but what she finds just might save them all.
Barra is a strong female lead, smart and cunning, and she doesn't rely on others to make decisions for her. Her friends, Plicks and Tory, are shown to be supportive and a little bit of a moral compass when she gets out of control. I really enjoyed their relationships-the book did a great job of showing how friendships can be more of a balancing act, and how it's good to look out for one another. Barra has her head checked a couple of times when her pride gets in the way (as it happens with willful boys and girls), but it isn't ever done in a condescending or mean way. There are a couple of death scenes that are a little violent, but nothing I wouldn't read to my six year old.
This book is a full on adventure. It would be like if Don Bluth decided to start writing kid's fiction and mixed in a healthy dose of video game artists to illustrate for him. There is a plethora of pictures, but they don't detract or bring you out of the book, they pop and help to define some of the more intense scenes. The story is a roller coaster from beginning to end.
I gave it four stars because it was marketed as a YA book. To me it reads more middle grade. My Kindergartner's eyes lit up when he saw it. He's a little young to read it on his own, but he definitely had to look at every picture before I was able to start reading it. I was amazed at what high quality the paperback was. The pictures are vibrant and the pages are heavier, perfect for smaller hands to flip through.
I am surprised no one has really mentioned the website. This is supposed to be a full on media immersion. A video game and other media are planned after release. The website also has a lot more information on the different characters, world, and animals the kids would be thrilled to see (just make sure to scroll all the way down on the website).
-I received an ARC copy for an honest review-