Blog Tour - Big Sky Mountain The Forest Wolves
Blog Tour Review - Big Sky Mountain: The Forest Wolves by Alex Milway
Welcome to Big Sky Mountain: a home for everyone! There is never a dull day on Big Sky Mountain! Rain or shine, there is always something that needs doing. Rosa and Grandma Nan are busy building a bigger cabin when a storm strikes, and a host of animals descend for shelter. There is one unexpected visitor: a tiny wolf cub. This little wolf doesn't seem like the scary, giant-fanged forest wolves that Rosa has heard about! Can the cub really be part of their pack? Rosa and Grandma Nan set off into the forest to find out .
My youngest son and I are big fans of Alex Milway's adorable Hotel Flamingo chapter book series, so I was thrilled to be offered a place on the blog tour for the second book in his new series, Big Sky Mountain: The Forest Wolves. First thing I did was devour book one in the series, which is just called Big Sky Mountain, and I loved that! I've missed getting out into the great outdoors over the last two years, and this book about a young girl who just turns up at her grandma's door looking for somewhere to stay really made me miss it more. You see, her grandma's door is in the middle of nowhere, with nothing for miles around but lake, river, forest and mountain. Her door leads into a small, hand-built wooden cabin which is definitely rustic. But it turns out that the great outdoors is not as empty as Rosa thinks, and the supporting cast of animals really makes Big Sky Mountain sparkle! There's Albert the moose, a guard owl, a travelling salesbear, three rather rude fish and a very angry mountain hare!
But this is also a book about rewilding, and some beavers have arrived with a mission to restore the balance of the wild, something not all of the inhabitants are particularly pleased about. The rewilding topics in Big Sky Mountain are dealt with beautifully. It's informative without ever being preachy. It talks about the importance of reshaping the wild because, as beautiful as it may be that's not always what is best for the animals trying to call it home, but doesn't ignore or dismiss the opposition to it.
So Big Sky Mountain was a big hit for me. What about book two?
By the time of The Forest Wolves, Rosa is a bit more settled in Big Sky Mountain, so there's less emphasis on the "fish out of water" storyline. (The three rude fish are still very much in the water!) But it is a big mountain and it's time for her to explore a bit more of it. Where book one took us down the Gold River and talked about the environmental benefits of beavers, book two takes us into Dusty Wood where things aren't too great, to be honest.
Let's look at this as two different elements: the story and the underlying messages.
Firstly, the story is fantastic. Rosa finds an adorable lost wolf cub in a storm, and tries to return her to her family. Along the way she meets a really fun cast of characters, from a cowardly hedgehog to a rambunctious herd of bison. She perseveres, shows empathy and understanding, gets frightened but turns that into bravery, and does whatever it takes to protect her new little friend. Rosa, it has to be said, is a fantastic role model! And her adventure is fun, scary, thrilling, with some really nice twists and turns along the way. There are no simple solutions here, but it's very enjoyable watching her try to find the best solution for everybody.
Secondly, the message. Environmental messages are a big part of Alex Milway's Big Sky Mountain. This is absolutely how it should be, because it is so vitally important, now more than ever, that we get these messages across and if we can do that in a fun, accessible format then that's brilliant. And Alex can! This time the emphasis is on megafauna and the positive impact they can have on our woodlands, and the importance of taking down trees and managing forests to open up the canopy, something that can be done through rewilding rather than just human intervention. As with the first book, this is portrayed with fun and engaging characters and never comes across as a lecture.
I also need to mention the art. Alex Milway illustrates these books himself, as he did with his Hotel Flamingo series, and I love his art style. It's very cute and adorable, black and white and blue art, and has little hidden details throughout for eagle-eyed readers to try and spot (there's even a tick list in the back of the book!)
With his Big Sky Mountain series, Alex Milway has beautifully blended engaging and exciting storytelling with a brilliant cast of characters with a vitally important set of environmental messages, all told with love and respect for the wild. The Forest Wolves deepens and extends this message and introduces new, instantly loveable characters into the narrative.
A definite five wolves from me!
I was given copies of both Big Sky Mountain books by the publisher in exchange for an honest review and participation in this blog tour.
Big Sky Mountain and Big Sky Mountain: The Forest Wolves are written and illustrated by Alex Milway, published by Piccadilly Press. Big Sky Mountain is available now from all good bookshops, and The Forest Wolves is published on 3rd February 2022.
And don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour! Details below.