The natural world of the redwood forest and a fantasy world of fairy-like creatures combine in Powers’ children’s tale of a treasure quest and justice served.
The faexie, the tiny winged folk that helm Powers' debut, live on Redwood Isle, where they are ruled by Queen Darkwing. All are able to fly but young Tara, who lost her wings in a mysterious incident; as a consequence, where other faexies live high in the towering redwoods, Tara and her family make do on an ancient stump on the forest floor where they operate pumps that feed water to the redwoods’ roots. But a build-up of dead plant material is making the water pumps less efficient after the queen banished banana slugs from Redwood Isle. Without them, an important symbiotic part of the redwoods’ ecosystem is missing. When the queen announces that she will burn away the plant matter on the forest floor—taking Tara’s tree stump home with it—the little faexie is propelled on a quest to save her home and the environment. Along the way, she is aided by a motherly salmon, an injured red-tailed hawk, a banana slug named Benny and other new friends of various species. Powers wastes some time initially by setting the scene with a financial crisis in Redwood Isle due to “seedy financial schemes” at the “Goldwing Sacks Bank.” Heavy-handed puns abound, most of which are not applicable to the story. Nor is the tale enhanced by illustrations that appear to be homemade crayon drawings. However, younger readers—and adults too—will have fun with the fantasy and much of the humor, best evoked in scenes depicting a tangle of worms offering plays on the word “banana,” a stinkbug using his natural talents in a boat race and the faexies storing pollen in the “Fort Knots Treesury.” The author also excels at weaving real information about the flora, fauna and life cycle of the great redwood forest into the fabric of his tale.
Slight missteps with puns and humor do not detract from this charming children’s fantasy that deftly integrates real-life facts about an important ecosystem.