One season after recruiting the giant beavers to build a dam on the flooded river, Leaf finds himself on the cusp of another journey. While he and his family are temporarily kicked out of their haven, he (quite literally) runs into a quirky bird and its somewhat loopy passenger–an old Twig from the North Forest. With staggered words, the Twig explains that the North Forest is dead from an infestation of bark beetles and his children are still trapped there. While Pappo takes the old Twig north to cure his illness, Leaf takes it upon himself to find the stranded Twigs and bring them back to safety. But the journey quickly becomes more dangerous than Leaf anticipated. Not only do the hoards of bark beetles threaten him and the stranded Twigs at every turn, but a forest fire rages through the dead trees and just might cut off the only path back to the South Forest.
Leaf & The Sky of Fire is the second book in Jo Marshall’s Twig Stories. Although there isn’t much continuity from the first book, it’s still just as enjoyable. Now that Leaf is a little bit older, he has more agency and the narrative hints at more serious matters such as death and the possibility of death. The environmental message is even more smoothly incorporated into the story than the previous book. Again, the story jumps between perspectives, but unlike the first book, I didn’t feel that any of the suspense was compromised as a result. Mashall’s prose is vivid and makes the Twig world come alive with unique language and detailed backstories. Charming creatures and other Twig friends help Leaf and his family solve yet another problem in their beautiful forest.
It seems to me that each new book improves on the last, and if I can enjoy these books as an adult, there’s no doubt that children will love them as well.