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Southcrop Forest    by Lorne Rothman order for
Southcrop Forest
by Lorne Rothman
Order:  USA  Can
iUniverse, 2008 (2008)

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Lorne Rothman's Southcrop Forest is a unique novella. Mixing biology and environmentalism, the story is told in such a way that the reader learns and thinks, but not in the same way as reading a textbook. It would be a great aid to middle school or even high school students to help tie biological concepts into the real world. In fact, I would say it is to science what Edwin Abbott Abbott's Flatland is to mathematics.

Southcrop Forest centers on a colony of tent caterpillars collectively known as Fur, a creature tasked with conveying an important message to a more northern forest. The trees in Southcrop Forest are slowly being destroyed, due to human progress, and they wish to pass on their special talents of seeing what each other sees to the trees of Deep Sky in the north.

Trees, however, cannot move, so they have been awaiting the return of Runes, special creatures who can talk to the trees and thus carry their message. Fur is the Rune they have been awaiting, but the undertaking is a large one for such a short lived colony. Fur will have to face many predators and hazards if he is to help the trees before it is time for his transformation into a moth.

The biggest downfall of Southcrop Forest, what makes it a little too academic, is the endnote numbers that crop up all too often. A glossary is found in many fantasy books, but endnotes are only found in more scholarly, non-fiction works. This does detract from the story by reminding the reader it is a piece meant to teach as well as entertain. However, with that specific purpose in mind, Lorne Rothman does an excellent job with Southcrop Forest.

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