Fern Verdant and the Silver Rose
- VOYA: 3Q3P M
- Reading level: Ages 9-12
- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (November 11, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375852131
- ISBN-13: 978-0375852138
Fern Verdant hates her name, hates her parents’ vocation, and hates being new in Nedlaw. Everything makes her stand out, from her wild curly black hair to her crazy botanist parents. Now her mother is off once again to save some exotic plant from extinction while Fern is left alone with her fern-loving dreamy father. This time Lily’s trip is just days before her daughter’s thirteenth birthday, and Fern is so angry that she refuses to tell her mother goodbye. When Lily disappears, Fern and her father are distraught. When plants begin speaking to her, Fern is certain that she has lost her mind. These plants, however, offer her hope because they say her mother is still alive. Soon Fern is deep in an adventure as she battles a group of suspicious orphans, invasive plants who don’t want her mother found, and an insane doctor who has hypnotised an entire youth mental illness facility. As she follows the clues provided by the flora, Fern learns to control her new skill and begins to learn about the world of botany that she has always rejected. Along the way, she develops an environmental conscience and her father learns about his mother’s wild past. When all of the key players converge in Sri Lanka, Lily, Fern, and a host of botanical forces take on the diabolical Dr. Saagwalla and his cohorts. In the end, of course, all of the pieces come together and the novel ends with the promise of a sequel.
Leszczynski’s style is nothing special, but her characters are interesting and easy to like. Her villains are suitably despicable and the heroes likably conflicted. The vocal flora provides a nice touch of magic and the environmental message is handled with care. The author manages to express her green agenda without becoming preachy or even heavy handed. Instead, the characters come to their own realizations and make decisions based on their new knowledge. Fern is well drawn and grows throughout the story to become a more mature and well-rounded young lady with a new passion and consciousness. Any violence is slapstick at most and young readers should find the villains enjoyably outrageous. This would be a nice foray into environmental consciousness for young readers. Older readers, however, may find it predictable but still fun.