Did I enjoy reading The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root? Yes. Very much. I found it a quick, compelling, delightfully atmospheric fantasy for middle graders.
Here's how it begins: "In a small town called Whistle Root, rats play music in the moonlight." It was a curious way to start a book, in my opinion, and it got me reading. (And this despite the OWL on the cover.)
Carly, the heroine, has trouble sleeping at night. If left alone, she'd gladly sleep all day, stay awake all night. Even if staying awake at night means considerable loneliness with little to no interaction with others. But she's not left alone, not technically, and so when the school year starts, Carly's worst nightmare begins: she's forced to attend school AND stay awake. Her teachers do find it annoying, to say the least, that Carly falls asleep several times throughout the day. And I'd even go so far as to say that her teachers bully her because they are so unhappy with her. But the students, her classmates, REALLY bully her. Carly has made peace, so we're allowed to think, with the fact that she'll never have friends because no one will ever understand her or like her. But this year, that changes. One person does notice her, does like her, and seeks to be friends with her. Of course this person has issues of his own perhaps! But still, his friendship with Carly is special....
Carly lives for the night, lives for the time she plays music with RATS, well, one rat in particular. He takes her with him to the woods. (He can fly on the wind, she has to concentrate on staying caught up with him.) She's soon on visiting terms with a rat community that is facing great danger. She may be able to help. But helping means having to solve a complicated mystery first...and she may not solve it in time to save those she's come to care for.
I liked the world-building in this one, the story-within-a-story aspect of it. It worked for me.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews