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review 2016-07-08 17:07
The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes
The Eagle Tree - Ned Hayes

This is a beautifully well-written book that will open your eyes to the beauty and the need to protect the trees that are around you from the tree-tops down to their roots. This book will also help in understanding those that are on the spectrum and how they see those around them.

Fourteen-year-old March Wong knows everything there is to know about trees. They are his passion and his obsession, even after his recent falls—and despite the state’s threat to take him away from his mother if she can’t keep him from getting hurt. But the young autistic boy cannot resist the captivating pull of the Pacific Northwest’s lush forests.

One day, March is devastated to learn that the Eagle Tree—a monolithic Ponderosa Pine near his home in Olympia—is slated to be cut down by developers. Now, he will do anything in his power to save this beloved tree, including enlisting unlikely support from relatives, classmates, and even his bitter neighbor. In taking a stand, March will come face-to-face with some frightening possibilities: Even if he manages to save the Eagle Tree, is he risking himself and his mother to do it?

I loved this book! I highly recommend this book to tree huggers, people interested in climate change, nature lovers, hikers, or anyone that has ever climbed a tree even if you were to scared to climb down.

"I believe in trees. I can touch them. And they have true names."

"Trees do not require you to make certain sounds to be understood. They are simply present and ready for you to climb at any time. Trees are easier."

"Sometimes I think I would like to be a tree. Sometimes I think I am a tree, just located temporarily in a moving body, like one of the Ents from the Lord of the Rings"

"You cannot own all of a tree," I said.

"Sometimes I wish it was not so hard for me to make myself understood. I wish I could plug an electric cord from my brain into someone else's ears so that they could hear how I think and I could understand how they think."

"Human beings are on the cusp of destroying all of God's great natural world, which was originally gifted, according to the scriptures, to the human race, who would function as stewards of this great Earth. We have not been every good stewards in the last century."

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review 2016-06-09 16:27
The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes
The Eagle Tree - Ned Hayes

The Eagle Tree still has me sitting here, puzzling over exactly how I feel. Ned Hayes introduces us to Peter March Wong, a 14 year old boy who is on the autism spectrum. March, as he prefers to be called, is compulsively drawn to trees. Obsessed, if you will. His life is measured in trees. In the number of trees he climbs daily, the kinds of trees he has yet to climb, and the amount of time that he spends in each one he's had the opportunity to scale. I admit, it's a little daunting to meet March for the first time. His passion for this topic is unbridled, and a little overwhelming. If you have The Eagle Tree on your reading list, prepare to learn copious amounts of new information about tree types, climate changes, and old-growth forests.

 

Now, that's not to say that the information presented in this book isn't interesting. March's knowledge of all things tree related is astounding. Hayes' use of tactile imagery brings the reader straight into the Pacific Northwest. A place brimming with life, and also sadly at risk of dying away. March's description of the forest, as he walked through, was immersive. I could almost feel myself touching the bark with his hands, and feeling the warmth of the sunlight through the leaves. These were the portions that I loved, and clung to. Unfortunately, March's autism draws him more towards the factual than the fanciful. So there were also large portions of this book that felt like info dumps. I believe I've learned more about Ponderosa Pines and the tree beetles than I could ever hope to know in a lifetime. This book walks a thin line between fiction and non-fiction at times, and it can be jarring.

 

What I would have loved to see, since I enjoyed March's truth telling personality so much, was more about his relationships with the people around him. His mother, and his uncle, both play a part in this story. It ends up secondary, however, to his obsession with trees. There is an underlying plot where March's tree climbing will sometimes cause him to injure himself and, because he's so focused on his mission, he won't notice until much later. Bumps, bruises and lacerations have caused March's mother to be under scrutiny as a parent. Is she unfit to take care of March alone? I would have liked to see this explored a bit further. There wasn't much discussion of these people who were important to March, as seen through his eyes. If more of the book had focused on that, I think there would have been a nice balance.

 

As it stands, The Eagle Tree is a well written book. It does a fabulous job of portraying an autistic teen, and March's knowledge of trees is most definitely impressive. This book also pushes the idea that we are connected to nature, and need to remember that. Hayes expertly explains why climate change is such an issue, and what it is doing to the very trees that March loves. It might have been a bit dry at times, but I can't complain about the amount of passionate research that must have gone into creating this story. It absolutely shows.

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review 2016-05-23 21:25
The Eagle Tree
The Eagle Tree - Ned Hayes

March Wong is a young man who loves trees and especially climbing trees.  In a tree he finds meaning to the rest of the crazy world, he can find calmness.  March Wong is also autistic and climbing trees is an obsession that has gotten him in trouble more than once.  Now, there is a hearing to see if his mother is a fit guardian for him.  On the heels of his hearing, March finds a new tree.  With help from his Uncle, March goes to the old growth forest, the LBA Woods in Olympia Washington.  After climbing several trees, he spots a very tall tree standing out from the rest.  It is a Ponderosa Pine; affectionately called the Eagle tree. It is an unusual tree to grow in that habitat and March must climb it.  However, the land that the Eagle Tree grows on is bought by a private developer and it is now a rule that March cannot climb the tree; the developers will also cut the tree down.  In his obsession to now save and climb the Eagle Tree, March will overcome many of his fears in order to get the support he needs to save the beloved tree.

 

“I am like a tree that looks dead to the world, but when you climb to the very top, you find bright green limbs sucking sap one hundred feet from the ground.  And you discover the tree is very much alive, and is keeping its secret life from the world.”

 

In a wonderful combination of forest ecology and a very specific look into an autistic mind, Ned Hayes has created a unique story line.  As someone who loves trees and has also worked with people who have autism,   this book was perfect for me. I was most impressed with the voice of the narrator; told completely from March’s point of view, I was easily brought into March’s world in a way that was easily understandable.  March’s human experience was brought to light through this point of view; his focus, ways of thinking, interactions with others and sensory needs were brought to the forefront so it was easily relayed to all the ways that March needed the trees; from the way that the leaves filter light, to thinking about each step in order to climb to the basic biology of the tree. In addition, as a caretaker, I could also relate to March’s mother’s frustrations with how he interacted with the world beyond trees.  March’s ability to grow through his own means with the help of the Eagle Tree and his willingness to campaign for it was well done.  Overall this is a touching, emotional and environmentally conscious book, perfect for someone looking for something a little different.

 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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