Tashi and the stolen forest by Anna Fienberg, Barbara Fienberg and Kim Gamble

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First published in 2020 as an Australia Reads story, this Tashi tale can standalone but will probably be most enjoyed by those already familiar with the cast of characters within the Tashi world. Black and white illustrations on most pages help to break up the lengthy chunks of text, otherwise only broken into Part One and Part Two.

A worker installing solar panels on Jack's roof prompts Tashi's tale this time as he recalls the bitter winter when the villagers ran out of firewood. The entire forest was disappearing and the villagers were getting ill. Wise-as-an-Owl was busy preparing potions to help with all the coughs and colds and Much-to-Learn had been working on a new spell that made energy from sand and the sun. When Tashi investigates and finds out the Baron is causing all the problems and Much-to-Learn's new potion has made him a target, he has to work out a clever way to save him and foil the Baron's greedy plans. Rich language, a complex plot and a full cast of characters make for a wonderful read for young independent readers or as a shared read-aloud. Interestingly, this tale does mirror contemporary issues that could also be discussed, such as unsustainable energy sources, who benefits from fossil fuels and the benefits of renewable energy. As is common in Tashi stories, it is also great to see villains that aren't cast as just good or bad, with characters who sometimes make poor choices being given the chance to redeem themselves or accept consequences for bad behaviour. This is an incredibly powerful but subtle message within the series, and an important one for young children to hear. Tashi fans will be delighted with this new tale, which will fit seamlessly alongside the other titles.

Themes: Fantasy, Adventure.

Nicole Nelson