Title: Abbie’s Woods: Defending the Nest
Author: Susan Thogerson Maas
Major Themes: Oregon, Nature
Synopsis: Boys are messing up the woods that are her special place, and Abbie’s parents are having trouble, so what should she do?
I don’t very often see a children’s book available for review that sounds good, so when I do see one I take a second look. I wasn’t at all sure about Abbie’s Woods when I saw it, but I decided to give it a go anyway and see what I thought. It was a very fast read; I read the entire book one afternoon when I was laying down with a headache. But what did I think about it?
Abbie had a very special place—the patch of woods behind her suburban home. Her father had introduced her to the woods, and taught her what the plants and animals were. She spent a lot of time exploring it, and had her own special hiding place in the middle. Then one day, someone else was in her woods when she went to check on the nest of baby robins. Two boys were throwing cans into the pond and breaking glass bottles over the water! They would ruin everything! Abbie did what she could to scare them away. The next time she went to the woods, they were back—and they did more damage. What could Abbie do to stop the boys and save her woods?
Meanwhile, things were getting bad at home, too. Dad and Mom were fighting every day. Her brother’s asthma was bad and getting worse. The two of them decided they had to do something to keep their parents together—but what could they do? As her world fell apart around her, Abbie searched frantically for ways to pull it together again, but most of her choices seemed to make things worse in the end instead of better.
Abbie’s Woods is a beautiful depiction of how human efforts don’t solve problems—only God can make things better. God’s ways are the only ones that can do any good; trying to use force to change someone’s mind, for example, backfires. Abbie tried to scare off the boys with one thing after another, but each time, she only made them angrier. Would anything stop them from harming “her” robins and their nest? The schemes she came up with to try to bring her parents back together backfired, too—would her elderly neighbor’s advice to pray do anything?
I received a review copy of this book from CelebrateLit, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: Chapter 1: yikes. Chapter 24: Gee.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12