Leaf and the Rushing Waters – Book Recommendation

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I am thrilled to recommend a book from an author whom I have been following for a while on Facebook. Jo Marshall’s passion and activism for environmental issues and her love of the Pacific Northwest region are a constant source of inspiration to me.

LeafLeaf and The Rushing Waters: Twig Stories

Written by Jo Marshall

Illustrated by D.W. Murray

Ages: 8 – 12

Published by CreateSpace on November 17, 2011

Availability: Paperback and Kindle.

Themes: adventure, fantasy, environmentalism, beavers, glacial melt

Reviewed from own copy.

Synopsis: Our main protagonist, Leaf, is a Twig. ”Twigs are impish stick creatures – not much taller than robins. Tiny leaves sprout from their arms and legs, and their toes are very curly like roots. Their long, leafy hair can be many different colors – emerald, bronze, flaming red, and gold, for example”.

Leaf lives with his family (Pappo Needles, Mumma Ivy, younger sister Fern, and baby twin brothers Buddy and Burba) in the Old Seeder tree not far from the river known as Rushing Waters. Jo introduces us to various animals that inhabit this region. Her anthropomorphism is exemplary and beavers, chipmunks, squirrels etc retain their natural qualities while individual characters are portrayed in depth and detail. Leaf is a young Twig eager to prove his courage and valour. One night a huge storm causes the glacial ice dam way up in the peaks above the Old Seeder, to break, producing flooding down the valley. All the family except Leaf, are trapped in their not hole in the Old Seeder.

Following his father’s urgings Leaf sets off to find a renegade, but friendly Twig called Rustle, whose help he entreats to find the “chompers” (beavers), in whom Needles has confidence to save the Twig family. Leaf thus sets off on an epic adventure. He makes many new friends; “a hummer” (a hummingbird), the twigs Rustle and Feather, and Feather’s friends, the “chippies” (chipmunks); they battle enemies such as screechers (owls) and “poppers’ (prairie dogs) and eventually find the great granddaddy of the chompers, Slapper. Will these great dam-building beavers agree to help a skinny family of Twigs down the mountain? Is young Leaf brave and persuasive enough to persuade Slapper and his family to help?

Why I like this book: This is truly an epic adventure story with a young hero who sets out on a quest. The fate of his family lies in him overcoming the odds and succeeding. is both fast-moving and action-packed. The characters are superbly developed and believable in this mountaineous/forest world. Even Leaf’s baby twin brothers with their drooling and baby antics are appealing and unique individuals. The somewhat elf-like Twigs are an endearing creation with feisty characters one cheers along. Jo has done a great job in creating this natural world, with attention to detail in flora, fauna and plant life. The plot is filled with excitement and despite fairly detailed descriptive passages, moves along at a comfortable pace.

The black and white illustrations add just enough Twig world detail to urge back into the forest! Doesn’t the front cover just beckon you to adventure?

The environmental truths and concerns are subtly interwoven into the story, and middle grade readers will absorb the importance of the beavers and the concerns about glacial melt, without realizing they are being educated in this way. This is a great stand alone naturalistic adventure story, but also an asset to any middle grade classrooms looking at environmental issues. This novel is a charming well written fantasy that will appeal to a wide range of readers.

I am thrilled that a percentage of all profits from the sale of this and other Twigs Stories books are donated to nonprofit organizations involved with with wildlife protection, climate change research, nature conservancy, and forest preservation. Book two in the series is entitled LEAF AND THE SKY OF FIRE, and the third, just released this month, is LEAF AND THE LONG ICE. I can’t wait to read the sequels, and I am hoping we will encounter Feather and her chippies again, as I have a soft spot for this Twig!


Find out more about the birth of the Twig Stories from a couple of interviews with the author can be found on Sharon Stanley’s blog and Kai Strand’s blog.

The Twig Stories have their own website here.


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15 Responses to Leaf and the Rushing Waters – Book Recommendation

  1. Wow! a riveting review, Joanna, of a very creative story. You had me at the clever names of the family. The cover is eye catching and cries adventure. I too, would be interested in the sequels. Educational as well as a great read. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Linda Boyden says:

    What a real delight this review is, Joanna! And such a concept. My little adventurous heart is looking forward to reading this one. I was hooked by the playful names, too. Not to mention how its message and the kindness of this generous author, Jo Marshall, will be helping our planet.

  3. Joanna says:

    I LOVE the names. The chipmunks also have really cute names, like Whisper and Claws!

  4. I love this series! 😀 The author, Jo Marshall, just told me that this might be turned into a TV-cartoon series! 😀

  5. I am so happy you reviewed Jo’s book. It sounds like an important read about climate changes for middle grade students. I love this creative story. I downloaded her book on my husband’s iPad and have not been able to ge it out of his hands to read the story. Thanks Erik for the additional info — that would be fabulous if it was made ino a TV-cartoon series! It would reach so many more children and teach responsible use of our planet at the same time.

    • Joanna says:

      Pat, I’ve been meaning to read this for month and it was winning the kindle just before Christmas that kicked me into action. Need to get onto the others now.

  6. Jo Marshall says:

    Wow, Joanna, what a delightful surprise and privilege to be reviewed by you! Thanks for sharing Twig Stories with your friends and fans. Thank you, too, Erik, Linda, and PatientDreamer for your encouraging words.

    Yes, Erik is right. A wonderful producer is developing the series of books into an afternoon children’s animated feature, and even better, the illustrator David Murray is also involved. I feel very lucky, and hope the first episode will be ready in a year or so for a nonprofit station. It’s different writing scripts, and I’m not much good at it, but I’m learning a lot. In the meantime, I’m working on the next book, Leaf & Echo Peak, and hope that will be out early next year, 2014.

    Joanna, you’re a doll, and your own adventures are always inspiring! Cheers!

  7. Joanna says:

    Good luck with the script writing, Jo, what a fabulous opportunity to spread these stories further.

  8. sprite says:

    What a beautiful cover! And it sounds like the story is a good one, too.

  9. Cathy Mealey says:

    How marvelous! Thanks for putting Twigs on my radar Joanna!

  10. Joanna says:

    Cathy, I do think these stories have a very broad appeal as well as a super message.

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