Israeli author Samos mixes real-life animal lore into a colorful tale of woodland creatures banding together when humankind encroaches on their forest home.
Told in the voice of Nemo, a spirited, observant mole rat, the saga begins with a rainstorm that nearly drowns Nemo and his brother Chico in their burrow. The little mole has another narrow escape, this time from the talons of Attila the hawk. Then Dolly, a “gossipy”—and clearly literate—gecko, learns that the forest is to be cleared for the building of human houses. Under a truce between predators and prey, Max the owl holds an emergency woodland council and the decision is made—the animals must leave the forest for a new home. As bulldozers close in, Attila, two foxes and a snake scout out the possibilities, and the risky trek begins. Just as all seems well, the newcomers are confronted by a battle-minded band of fearsome, territorial crows. While the plot may be familiar, Samos infuses it with quirky humor and compassion, and despite cartoon-style illustrations that give Nemo dark glasses and Chico a baseball cap, tidbits of real-life nature are nicely integrated throughout—Mole rats may be nearly blind, Nemo points out, but they have acute senses of hearing and smell; Boomer the woodpecker uses his “fantastic sense of hearing” to find caterpillars under the tree bark; Dolly the gecko hunts insects in the crevices of a human habitat called “the country club”; and Arthur may be a “very handsome brown and yellow lizard,” but his frightening hiss “really got on my nerves,” Nemo confides.
A quirky, entertaining tale for ages 6 to 11, interwoven with humor, real-world information about animal behavior and compassion for animals who must survive the daily challenges that nature throws at them—and the consequences of human endeavor.