Children's Books
Middle-grade Novels

Twig Stories ~ Children's Books Reviews

Top reviews for these wonderful middle-grade novels about fantastic creatures called Twigs and devastating climate change events in the Pacific Northwest. 

Twig Stories ~ Paperback & Kindle

Twig Stories ~ Children's Books Reviews


 Jo Marshall’s Twig Series has resulted in a wonderfully-complex set of stories that opens the eyes of her readers to a variety of environmental issues. As environmental advocates, we support the underlying issues – and as avid readers, we are thrilled by the page-turning adventures within each of Marshall’s stories. As the lovable and encouraging Twig characters gather to fight for what is right in each story, we can only hope this deep-rooted sense of environmental stewardship is passed on to Marshall’s young readers.

Amanda Swan
Director of Development & Communications
The Lands Council 

“The environmental messages contained in this highly entertaining series of stories are certainly important and are told  in a way that will engage children everywhere.  The educational value of these books cannot be underestimated especially at a time when we desperately need to create a culture that is committed to protecting our natural wonders.” 

Dr.  Edwards
Manager of Education
The British Columbia Wildlife Park 

 “As someone who has worked to both protect an endangered species and engage young people in the environmental issues that will shape their future, I've learned that education through entertainment is a powerful force for positive change.  Today's youth can be leaders tomorrow AND today if only they are given the tools to become aware, inspired, and engaged.  The Twig book series powerfully accomplishes each of these needs, all the while reaching young people on their level with fun, family-friendly entertainment.  I have no doubt that, thanks to this book series, countless children will develop a passion for our natural world and all living things that require it to survive.  And for each young person who becomes inspired to care for our shared environment, not only will we foster a more caring society in the future, we will create a new cohort of leaders who will be agents of change today.” 

D. Simon Jackson
Founder and Chairman. Spirit Bear Youth Coalition
Executive Producer, The Spirit Bear CGI Movie 

Praise for Leaf & the Rushing Waters


“This is truly an epic adventure story with a young hero who sets out on a quest. The fate of his family lies in him overcoming the odds and succeeding is both fast-moving and action-packed. The characters are superbly developed and believable in this mountainous/forest world. Even Leaf's baby twin brothers with their drooling and baby antics are appealing and unique individuals. The somewhat elf-like Twigs are an endearing creation with feisty characters one cheers along. Jo has done a great job in creating this natural world, with attention to detail in flora, fauna and plant life. The plot is filled with excitement and despite fairly detailed descriptive passages, moves along at a comfortable pace. The black and white illustrations add just enough Twig world detail to urge back into the forest! Doesn't the front cover just beckon you to adventure?

The environmental truths and concerns are subtly interwoven into the story, and middle grade readers will absorb the importance of the beavers and the concerns about glacial melt, without realizing they are being educated in this way. This is a great stand-alone naturalistic adventure story, but also an asset to any middle grade classrooms looking at environmental issues. This novel is a charming well written fantasy that will appeal to a wide range of readers.

I am thrilled that a percentage of all profits from the sale of this and other Twigs Stories books are donated to nonprofit organizations involved with wildlife protection, climate change research, nature conservancy, and forest preservation…I can't wait to read the sequels, and I am hoping we will encounter Feather and her chippies again, as I have a soft spot for this Twig!”

Joanna Marple
Miss Marple’s Musings 

 “With her Twig tales, Jo Marshall has done something amazing – tie a story of epic adventure to a naturally anchored account of environmental awareness – all tailored to the fresh, engaging mind of the youngster. Since beavers are already being reintroduced globally to combat the effects of climate change, I am certain the story’s heroes are completely fitting. Our earth is unfortunate in that it currently lacks goliath beavers – so it’s just going to have to make do with lots and lots of regular-sized ones.

With unexpected grace, Jo’s charming fantasy helps make the daunting world of beavers and climate change more accessible.”

Heidi Perryman, Ph.D., President and Founder
Worth A Dam – Martinez   

 Through the action-packed story of Leaf and the Rushing Waters, Jo Marshall does something marvelous by incorporating a strong underlying theme of current environmental issues. As beaver enthusiasts, we are lucky to study and experience the numerous ways these amazing creatures benefit our environment every day, and found ourselves cheering for Slapper and his family of Goliath Beavers.

Jo Marshall’s prose is beautiful and paints a picture so realistic that you can almost smell the forest and hear the rushing waters. This book offers a remarkable opportunity to instill a sense of environmental awareness in children which is so necessary today. Readers, young and old will surely find themselves engulfed in this tail of adventure, strength and doing what’s right.

Amanda Swan
Director of Development & Communications
The Lands Council – Beaver Solution
Spokane, Washington 

“Leaf & the Rushing Waters is an engaging, evocative and fast-moving adventure story. Author Jo Marshall's Twig "people" come alive in an exciting, wild world where glaciers are melting. But Twigs recruit beavers to face the challenge. This new work is relevant to today's major challenge of climate change, and, simultaneously, is a delightful read for young people or anyone who enjoys nature.”

Sharon T. Brown, M.A., Director and Wildlife Biologist
Beavers: Wetlands & Wildlife 

 “This story had me hooked from the very beginning because of the action and excitement (lets just say there was a squirrel attack). The creatures Ms. Marshall made up (the Twigs) are interesting. They aren’t fairies (they don’t have magic), they are made of wood, kind of human like (but small) and they care about the environment. I like how Ms. Marshall told the story from different points of views from different characters. The characters were all very likeable. My favorite was Rustle because he was pretty adventurous and had a lot of knowledge about the forest (and he was just cool). There were some nice illustrations in the book too. The story is super clean (no bad language and only scary-ish situations). It is a great choice for young advanced readers and middle grade kids. I think parents and kids will like the message of appreciating the environment too. Five out of five book worms for “Leaf and the Rushing Waters!” 

Erik, This Kid Reviews Books 

children's books reviews; best books; novel

 “This epic-style adventure is both fast-moving and action-packed. The characters are likeable, and the plot is filled with excitement. Young people, in addition to reading an engaging story, will learn important facts about beavers and other aspects of the natural world around us. So the book is not only fun, family-friendly entertainment but educational as well. Furthermore, a percentage of all profits from the sale of this and other Twigs Stories books are donated to nonprofit organizations involved with wildlife protection and nature conservancy. Book two in the series is entitled Leaf and the Sky of Fire.” 

Wayne S. Walker, Home School Book Review 

Praise for Leaf & the Sky of Fire


 “This book is a wonderful read. The story and artwork are impeccably crafted and weave a fascinating tale that will help introduce children to the magic and majesty of the natural world. Importantly, it imparts a strong appreciation of the intricacies and interactions that occur in nature. As a child, it was just such books that helped instill within me a desire to understand nature, and ultimately, to work in conservation. This book teaches in the best way possible – by igniting curiosity and building connections with the one thing that truly supports us all- our home, Earth.” 

Dr. Diana L. Six
Professor, Department of Ecosystem & Conservation Sciences
Integrated Forest Entomology/Pathology, University of Montana
Six Lab 

 “The Northern Forest is under attack! Bark beetles (barkbiters) have killed the trees in the forest and now the Twigs are in hiding. When Leaf (a Twig from the Old Seeder) hears about their problems, he goes to help but he is unaware of the evil barkbiters! When he gets to the Twigs, Leaf accidentally starts a fire on the dry wood, so now, they are running from millions of barkbiters and a huge forest fire! Can one little Twig save the forest and his fellow Twigs?!?

This story was as awesome as the first book in the series, Leaf and the Rushing Waters. Leaf and the Sky of Fire, was exciting and fun to read. The illustrations through the book are fabulous. Mr. Murray really drew great representations of the Twigs and they really helped me picture the story in my mind. I like that this is a great adventure book with excitement and danger, but it is totally appropriate for younger kids. The book also teaches about environmental issues (like bark beetles) that kids should know about. I thought a couple of characters could have been described a bit better in the text (like Veil - I was surprised to figure out he was a chameleon) but overall the world that Ms. Marshall created with the Twigs is just awesome! I think kids and adults will love Twig stories!

Five out of five book worms for Leaf & the Sky of Fire!”

Erik, This Kid Reviews Books 

 “In her Twig Stories, Jo Marshall has created a world that skillfully blends fantasy and reality in a way that is appealing to children of all ages. Anyone who cares about the environment and relishes a good story will become enthralled with Leaf, Moon and the rest of the Twigs. Ms. Marshall has created a cast of imaginary creatures that live in an all too real world of environmental threats. Set in the Pacific Northwest in a woodland environment, these stories beckon children with their gentle, playful characters who find themselves in truly frightening circumstances. In Leaf and the Sky of Fire, the threat is bark beetles given power by the strength of global warming and climate change. As an educator, I look forward to keeping a copy of this delightful book in my classroom library as an inspiration to future stewards of our planet.” 

Rose Sudmeier
Sixth Grade Teacher, Snohomish, Washington 

 "I so admire Jo Marshall's ability to educate about the environment in such an endearing, loving, and interesting way - not just for children and adolescents but for adults, too. We can use the education and reminders also."

Paula Hawkins
Retired Social Worker, Reno, Nevada 

  “This epic story tells a colorful tale of stick creatures that live in trees and protect forests against harmful organisms and issues associated with climate change.  As a bark beetle biologist, I can relate to the difficulties in reducing tree mortality caused by bark beetles and invasive insects.  Young readers interested in the natural world and preserving our forests will enjoy this engaging story.” 

Dr. Richard W. Hofstetter
Forest Entomology Professor
School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University  

Praise for Leaf & the Long Ice


 “Leaf and the Long Ice” chronicles the adventure of two young Twig buds drawn to the mystery of the “Long Ice” by naptime stories. Author Jo Marshall vividly conveys the at once irresistible and perilous quality of glaciers, with attention to the details of glacier architecture and function. Populated by a menagerie of creatures, this story offers readers a chance to journey vicariously to and through part of Earth’s frozen landscape. In so doing, it gives us a glimpse of this threatened natural and aesthetic resource that few are privileged to experience for themselves. The theme of environmental change is woven into the narrative as a backdrop to a story of adventure, danger, camaraderie, and kindness. Readers of all ages will relate to the magic that draws Buddy and Burba to the snow in the first place, and will be reminded of our connection to Earth's changing cryosphere."

Gwenn E. Flowers
Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair in Glaciology
Department of Earth Sciences
Simon Fraser University 

 "When children's authors aim to educate instead of merely entertain, the result is often a wooden delivery of dry facts that's sorely lacking on the entertainment front. Jo Marshall's Leaf & the Long Ice is an entertaining and engaging book that will not only appeal to elementary students of all ages, but will also educate them about environmental issues surrounding alpine glacier change and water supply. 

Marshall has created a cast of well-rounded characters common to the natural world around us, which helps readers clearly imagine the setting of the Long Ice. The characters' heart-stopping adventures demonstrate to readers the wonderful complexity and connectedness of both the biological and physical aspects of glaciated mountain regions. Instead of peppering readers with environmental facts, Marshall skillfully weaves them into the fabric of the narrative to develop children's understanding of the natural world in a holistic, system-based manner. 

Excellent storytelling combined with accurate science make this book a must-read for children interested in nature and stories of adventure."

Sarah Boon, PhD
Associate Professor, Geography
Alberta Water and Environmental Science
University of Lethbridge 

 Looking for engaging classroom books to meet environmental science and literature standards? Or just want to enrich your own child's environmental literacy in a fun way? LEAF AND THE LONG ICE is a must-have in your library. Rich fictional characters, vivid word imagery, evocative sensorial language, and layered science content...Jo Marshall gives us a great age-appropriate teaching tool that helps lay a foundation for students in fostering a nature care-taker's ethic. Forest-dwellers. 

Leaf and his younger brothers pull kids into the story through fantastic adventures on the glittering glacier ice. Kid-relatable dialogue makes you care about what happens to the wild animals living on the glacier, while cleverly blending in glacial mountain ecosystem food chain connections.  Yet, Jo does not resort to the negative sensationalism we so often see in children's media today. She introduces climate change without creating debilitating Eco-phobia in the minds and hearts of young readers. Instead, she sets the stage for further open positive conversation with adults about solutions thinking. 

Current and up-lifting, this book furthers efforts to create a culture of stewardship in our classrooms, homes, and world community.

Clay Heilman
Environmental Educator
Nature Vision - Environmental Education Non-profit
Woodinville, Washington 

Praise for Leaf & Echo Peak


 "Not only is Leaf & Echo Peak an adventuresome and humorous journey of animals and their Twig friends as they attempt to escape a pending eruption of Echo Peak, it is a look into Northwestern natural history and the dynamics between family and friends. Throughout the story, Jo Marshall reminds us that change is how we find new ways to grow. Twigs and their animal friends learn that with adaption and tenacity, life is resilient."

Abigail Groskopf
Science Education Director
Mount St. Helens Institute
Learn about the return to life at Mount St. Helens

 "The adventures of Twigs use fantasy to introduce simple science for 8-12 year olds. Twigs and Seeder and all of the other plants and animals live in a scary place where earthquakes and volcanoes are a natural part of the landscape, much like the northwestern United States. The creatures of the woods have long learned to deal with these ecological disasters. Humans have the same responses—ask the elders, leave, run, and then accept the new reality. That’s an important lesson hidden in the fantasy."

Eleanora I. Robbins, PhD
Science Explorers Club 

 "This children’s book opens a rich and imaginative forest world full of characters whose adventures create a different perspective on wildlife and their interactions due to natural and human-induced climate change and how each adapt with the change. Illustrations are gorgeous adding vibrant stimulation to mind as the reader follows the many ups and downs of the main characters. Much insight into the dynamics of forest ecosystems is provided in following these clever creatures. The book is imaginative and gives an added bonus with the "Watch Over Wildlife" at the end of the book, further engaging the readers."

Dr. Tim Foresman
Director of Development & Communications
Professor & SIBA Chair in Spatial Information, Institute for Future Environments Queensland University of Technology