Twelve-year-old Julian Carter-Li has no idea that adventure will soon find him. All he knows is that his mother is on a grant-paid trip to China that should enhance her career as a photographer, while she’s gone he has to stay with his mean-spirited aunt and uncle since no one else is available to take care of him, and he may have to spend his entire summer shuttling from one undesirable camp after another.
He is resigned to his fate until he inadvertently reads an email intended for his uncle that launches a relationship with a girl named Robin who lives on a farm in California’s redwood country. Before he knows it, Julian is working against his uncle’s company to save a grove of old-growth redwood trees from the saw, and he’s taking extreme-for-him measures to get the attention of anyone who may have the power to save the trees. All while learning about farm life and personal responsibility.
Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French combines eco-adventure with common childhood fantasies: to live in a tree house far above the rest of the world and to make grown-ups pay attention to what a kid has to say. While there’s no doubt the story take a pro-environment stance, it’s not preachy in getting a message across. Instead we see Julian, Robin and their friends Danny and Ariel learn how they can make a difference to something they feel is very important. And though the ending may have a touch of the stuff of fairy tales, I found Operation Redwood a delightful and fun adventure to read. I recommend it for mother-daughter book clubs with girls nine to twelve.