Reviewed by Sydney Clark (age 13) for Reader Views Kids
"Eliza's Forever Trees," by Stephanie Lisa Tara, is the story of Eliza, a 10-year-old girl who has a "wrong-beating heart" that keeps her from running and jumping like other children. Her mother reads Eliza stories every day, and takes her on walks in the redwood forest. But one day, Eliza's mother disappears and Eliza has to live at her strange grandfather's house. Her grandfather owns a million books and is always thinking of some way of using them, including burning them for firewood.
Where did Eliza's mother go? Why did she leave Eliza? Will she come back?
One day, a butterfly lands on the windowsill and talks to Eliza in the simple universal language that every creature can understand and speak. He and Eliza become friends while he waits for the other butterflies to fly down from the north, with Eliza reading to him from her books. One afternoon while they're reading together, Eliza's heart starts its "wrong beat," reducing her to a helpless heap and the butterfly resolves to help her find her mother. The next day they venture into the redwood forest, following the path they hope will lead to Mother Redwood, the first redwood ever, who will be able to tell them what happened to Eliza's mother.
As Eliza journeys on, she meets more friends, including a wise owl and a French squirrel that makes tiny sculptures. She stops feeling the wrong-beats in her heart. She learns the ways of the forest, the way every creature is part of a big family and how they all work together to help the forest thrive. But along the way she meets creatures that may -- or may not -- contribute to the forest family. Will they help the other creatures of the forest when the need arises? Or will they ignore them as they always have? Will Eliza ever find Great Mother Redwood and her own mother?
"Eliza's Forever Trees" is a sweet story filled with friendship, talking animals, the importance of families, stories, and the bonds between mothers and their children. I would suggest this book to anyone who would like to read a heart-warming tale about a small girl who defeated all the odds to find her mother and, along the way, made life-long friends.