To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness.
I am a 13 year old boy (using his mom's account with her permission to post a review) and yes I have read all of Robert Beatty's books but none of them were quite like Willa of the Wood. Willa was different than Serafina in alot of ways but was still an easy to love character. The story was enthralling and made me want to turn the page and read more. There were no dull moments and the entire story was worth every minute I took to read it. I actually read the entire book in less than 24 hours and I stayed up all night reading and no, I don't usually binge read books! Actually this was my first binge read. I know some boys are turned away from books because the main character is female but I think this should be an exception regardless of your gender. Mr. Beatty does not write like any other authors, the way he writes draws you into the story hook, line and sinker! He weaves a tale and you can personally relate to the characters and by the end you feel like you were a part of the story. I also recommend the Serafina Series written by Mr. Robert Beatty.
The fact that my kids beg and plead for me to read another chapter of this book every night and are willing to forego TV so I can read more to them warrants 5 stars. Plus, Robert Beatty is a beautiful writer to the point you can visualize the scenes in each chapter.
However, I feel conflicted as a parent when it comes to the content. This book, while it does contain some good, well-written and moving messages about family, hope, overcoming fear and love, it also has some very dark and disturbing parts including violence, kidnapping, abuse, and murder, all of which frankly, make me feel like a marginal parent - kind of like giving my kids a Snickers bar for dinner when I should be offering a salad (just a hypothetical here).
So, in truthfulness, I struggle with whether the content of the book is outweighed by the fact that my kids’ passion for reading and constant discussion and chatter about what they think will happen next in the book has been sparked by this author, darker content and all.
Parents know their kids best, but the jury is still out for me. I definitely think this author is best for the tween or older crowd, although I know my 8 year olds would vehemently disagree!
I received an advanced reader copy of Willa of the Wood which is the first of a new series for middle school students written by author Robert Beatty.
Mr. Beatty shares Willa’s perspective as he weaves a magical story that blends the life of this young night spirit into the rich local history of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee people. Willa lives with her 137-year-old mamaw who is one of the last surviving woodwitches from the dwindling clan of Faeran people. This 12-year-old girl has the ability to blend into her forest surroundings and can communicate with nature. Willa has a great respect for her heritage and is determined to preserve the old ways of her clan.
In the beginning of this action-packed mystery, Willa unwillingly has become her clan’s best thief. She is forced to go out and steal from the human day-folk each evening, by the padaren, who is the fearsome and selfish clan leader.
This intriguing story evolves with increasing suspense as Willa’s loyalty and strength of character is evident as she makes important decisions during her interactions and encounters in an enchanted forest with trees, the river, wolves, bears, deer, otters, homesteaders, Cherokee people, her own clan, and the frightening newcomers with the huge destructive “iron machines” that are “murdering trees.” Willa shows great maturity, compassion, and loyalty as she faces one life-threatening event after another while trying to protect those she loves. She is very brave and is able to “stay bold,” just as the character Serafina does in Beatty’s related Serafina series.
Willa is an inspiration for those of us who may need a reminder to respect nature and our environment. She learns how not to be judgmental and offers great lessons in kindness and unselfishness.
Robert Beatty has again given his readers a gift with his words. His writing is lyrical. The imagery simply lifts me into the setting where he describes the mountain, “. . . white mist of the Smoky Mountains breath floated near its rounded top out across the world . . .” I still think about the “. . . great healing lake of the bears. . .” that he so beautifully described. I continue to think about the lake that “. . . felt as if the light of the sun had become liquid . . .”
I strongly recommend this book as an especially great read aloud for families or classroom use. The various science, history, and cultural themes make it a wonderful book for classroom teachers and this book will be an excellent resource for teaching context clues.
Willa of the Wood
As I was sitting in my chair, with my black cat Serafina in my lap. I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed that Beatty's new book "Willa of the Wood" would be introducing a new character and it would not be a continuation of the Serafina stories. However, as I began to read I realized that this was going to be an amazing adventure! With the same descriptive detail that Beatty described the Biltmore Estate, he has continued this with his depiction of Willa and the world in which she lives. Willa is an ever-changing and lovable little spirit. Her daily life is full of sadness,chaos, and unimaginable circumstances. Willa is able to overcome these obstacles with the gifts from the forest, courageous animals, and love.The story has as many twists and turns as the river that flows through the forest.To my surprise, I did recognize an old friend or two along the journey! When you think all is lost, something happens and changes Willa's life forever, so have a tissue in hand, After reading this book, I can't decide which character I want to hear more about next...either way I know I won't be disappointed. Can't wait!
WOW!! I'm usually not a huge fan of fantasy books, but when I realized the story is set in the Great Smoky Mountains, I was intrigued! I have not read the Serafina books (yet), but apparently many of the characters from that series have found their way into Willa of the Wood. So the first thing I did after finishing this book was to get online and order the Serafina series!
Willa is a young night spirit who lives in the Smoky Mountains with her clan. At night she is forced to steal from Day Folk (humans), and bring the treasures she collects to the leader of the Faeran. The book takes unexpected twists and turns as Willa is faced with one trial after another. From the first chapter on, I found myself swept up into a hidden world of mysticism, intrigue, and infinite possibilities. Through the eyes and thoughts of Willa, I even found myself wondering if perhaps there might be more to this world than us day-folk realize!
Some parts of the story do get a little dark, so I probably would not recommend it for young children. However, older children, teens, and adults (like myself) will absolutely fall in love with Willa! I wish there was a sequel already written, but since there's not, I'm really looking forward to beginning the Serafina series - a little belatedly!
I like Robert Beatty’s novels: I followed Serafina through all three of her novels and became so engaged I toured the Biltmore Estate rooftops, attics, basemets, generator room and all. I wanted to taste just a bit more of Serafina’s world. I was pleasantly amused to find the Workers at the Biltmore Estate seriously view themselves and positively view themselves as modern day Servants of the Vanderbilt Family and as ongoing members of its Biltmore Traditions…they are just a little bit puzzled by the numerous Serafina fans who have taken such an interest in Biltmore and its enchanting surrounds!
In this newest series our heroine is Willa who is a Cherokee Night Spirit… from a Western point of view Willa would seem to be Part Angel, part Brownie ( like an English Pixie) and Part Nature Spirit. She calls to the trees who support and protect her. Willa’s world is the Smoky Mountains. Just like there are good angels and bad angels in the Western Tradition there are good and bad Night Spirits in Willa’s World.
Like Katness from District 12 of the Hunger Games, Willa lives off the rich Appalachian Land, yet in contrast to Katness, Willa carries no bow nor arrows. Walking with Willa we feel like we have returned to Eden before the Fall. Yet Willow finds her world is Fallen after all and struggles fearlessly to make Right the Wrongs, hold back human Indifference and Abuse of her Mountains.
In the earlier Serafina series Serafina is cared for by her loving Stepfather. In this new Willa of the Wood series love of a father for his children as well as genuine human caring and forgiveness again come to the front. On television our children see too much of indifferent parents and poor role models. Willa’s world offers us, both parent and child, a healthier view of who we might become…
As an elementary school Library Tech, I was very fortunate to get an advance copy of Willa of the Wood to read for my library collection. Mr. Beatty has woven a remarkable tale of courage, strength, love and perseverance all within his main character, Willa, a young non-human creature (Sprite?) of the Appalachian Mountains. Willa is a strong female character who has to use her intelligence, kindness, intuition and inner-strength to overcome great obstacles and difficulties in her life. Her deep love and connection with the animals and trees of the forest prove to be mutual as they help each other several times throughout the story. Mr. Beatty's incredibly intense descriptive writing had me so immersed in Willa's tale I would become completely oblivious to anything else going on around me while I read. Upper-elementary and middle school Fantasy readers will love Willa of the Wood and will anxiously await the second installment of her story.