I used this book as a read aloud with my fifth and sixth grade humanities students. It is a wonderful story. From an academic perspective, there were so many connections to be made. We were able to talk about the environment, Cuban history, modern day Cuba, immigration, divorce, etc.
Edver isn’t pleased to be headed to Cuba to meet his father for the first time since he was a baby. Now that the laws have changed, families can once again be reunited with people who escaped to the United States from Cuba. Edver has to leave behind the Internet and his favorite video game and cope with power outages and a lack of transportation and other technology. When he gets to Cuba, Edver discovers that he has an older sister that he’d never known about. Luza had stayed with her father in Cuba, wondering why her mother left her behind. Both of their parents work to protect endangered species. Their father protects one special forest in Cuba while their mother travels the world to find newly rediscovered species. As Luza and Edver start to become siblings, they find that a poacher has come to Cuba, drawn by an email they sent to try to get their mother to come. Now it is up to them to protect the forest they both love.
Engle is a master of the verse novel, writing of difficult subjects and using the poetic format to dig deeper than prose would allow. She tells the story in alternating poems in the voices of Edver and Luza as they discover the poverty of Cuba, the wealth of America, and the fact that there are different types of wealth in life like parental attention, grandparents and a sense of home.
Engle explores the world of Lazarus animals and protecting endangered species in this novel. The subject works in a lovely parallel to Cuban Americans being reunited with their families. There is a sense of delicacy and care, a feeling of finding the right habitat suddenly, and a sense of exploration and discovery heightened with surprises.
Another adept verse novel from a true master, this is a book that explores home, habitat and family. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Through lovely rhyme and verse, this tale paints a plot with feelings and emotions, allowing the beauty and depth to meld with adventure.
Edver and Luza might be brother and sister, but they come from two very different worlds. When Edver's mother suddenly sends him away from Florida to travel to Cuba, he's not sure what to make of anything. Especially when he meets Luza, the sister he didn't know that exists. Confusion reigns, but as they grow together, an adventure begins which will bond them for life.
This is a story written in verse. By flip-flopping between Edver and Luza, the author allows each character's thoughts to come to life through poetry. The plot unfolds slowly through each pair of eyes, while bringing in a beautiful depth not often seen in middle grade fiction. Each poem is relatively short - usually only between one to two pages - and opens up the story in all directions through a well thought out choice of words. Edver and Luza might be siblings, but they are different in every way. And it's this strong contrast which creates the extremely vivid imagery.
Two worlds collide. The children have grown up not only in different countries and cultures, but the gap between their wealth, ideologies, interests, way of life and dreams is wider than the ocean that separates them. Doubt, anger, uncertainty, curiosity, hope and expectations pour from every page. The writing flows with tons of beauty, while adding a bit of adventure in as well. The added twist of preserving endangered species makes this a delightful read. There's even a short glossary and explanation at the end to help readers gain a deeper understanding of the danger these animals are in.
Although this is a beautiful, original and compelling read, most middle graders won't necessarily have the patience to dive into the woven words. The thoughts and feelings of Edver and Luza are well fitting for the age group, but the adventure comes slowly, and the characters develop with more depth than most readers of this age group are ready to swallow. But that doesn't mean that there aren't a few out there who wouldn't love to read this. A slightly older age group will possess the maturity required to digest this tale to its fullest, and adults are sure to enjoy it as well. These readers are sure to get lost in Luza and Endver's world and leave with a new appreciation for the problems people from different cultures face as well as the horrid troubles found in the animal world.
I received a complimentary copy and found this book so beautiful that I wanted to leave my honest thoughts.
Free verse poetry is an intriguing and appropriate way to unfold this novel of a family separated and reunited across the Florida-Cuba divide. Told through alternating poems in the voices siblings, Luza and Edver, we see the same family's story from two perspectives. In addition to the separated family we see them living their lives and experiencing all the teenage experiences in this context. It's truly a unique and yet universal book.
I came across this book at the library and checked it out for my son who is not Cuban, but a half-Puerto Rican nature lover and adventurer. Also this book is written like poetry, which I thought he'd like. He hasn't read it yet, because I am still reading it, and totally enchanted with it! What a lovely book. I hope it gets into the hands of more readers. Don't be fooled by the size, there is a lot to treasure in this little book.
Award-author and National Young People’s Poet Laureate, Margarita Engle has penned another beautiful verse novel. Forest World is told through the alternating voices of two separated siblings struggling to find common ground to understand each other and their parents. What ultimately brings them together is their love of the forest and their need to work together against a notorious poacher after a sibling plan to get their mother to Cuba goes terrible awry. A story of secrets and consequences, this story tugs at the heartstrings and leaves you believing in the healing power of family. This review is based on ARC of Forest World.