Welcome to the world of unicorns.

Welcome to the world of unicorns.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Did You Know There Were Little Creatures Who Live Inside of Trees Called Twigs? It's True!

Today, I am thrilled to be interviewing Jo-Marshall, a fine children’s author of interesting middle grade stories that teach children about the importance of maintaining our environment. Her novels lure you into her fantasy world of creatures that live inside trees, and has us cheering for them until the end. Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free e-book of one of her novels.

Jo, you and I share something in common. We live in the same ecosystem. Only difference is – you live south of the Canadian border, and I live north of it. Yes, we live in that beautiful rain forest of the Pacific Northwest/West Coast. Same warm, wet climate, same vegetation, same environmental problems, and same climate change challenges. And I know that you are watching your forests being destroyed by pine beetles as are we.

First, allow me to thank you, Suzanne, for your thoughtfulness and curiosity about Twig Stories. I’m delighted you want to share my books with your circle of friends.  Yes, we have a terrible catastrophe in common.  Pine beetles normally die off in cold winters, but because the climate is warmer they now explode into swarms, and devastate entire forests in western North America. It’s difficult even for me to imagine because I live in a rural area north of Seattle, Washington with astonishing views of rainforests on the Olympic peninsula and volcanoes rising up from the Cascadia range. Who can really imagine that these magnificent glacier-capped peaks and vast forests are actually fragile and threatened by climate change? Rare species like woodland caribou and the white Kermode bear ~ or spirit bear ~ are also near extinction because of habitat impacts.

So Jo, tell us about the characters you’ve created in your novels. They look absolutely delightful.

Twigs are small, stick creatures living in old forests.  Leaf is my main dude ~ young, boyish, and full of curiosity about the world surrounding the safety of the giant cedar where he lives. His counterpart is his Twig friend Rustle, who grew up as an orphan fending for himself in the forest. Rustle is skilled in forest craft and courageous. Feather and Star are daring, girlish Twigs, who often save Leaf and Rustle from their own reckless adventures. There are so many more endearing Twigs – too many to describe. There are also endangered animals who take on heroic roles such as beavers, a spirit bear, salamanders, a pika, and mountain goats. 

I know you have three novels. Could you give us a brief description of them?

Leaf & the Rushing Waters tells the story of a horrific, glacial flood in Leaf’s forest. His only hope to save his stranded family is to find a sinister, goliath beaver named Slapper. Leaf hopes he can convince him to build a mighty dam.

 Leaf & the Sky of Fire takes Leaf to a northern forest, which is dying from bark beetle infestation. He attempts to rescue of a family of Twigs hiding in a cave, but their escape becomes a race before evil ‘barkbiters’ and a firestorm. 

Leaf & the Long Ice is a wild adventure on a melting glacier. Leaf’s tiny, twin brothers run away to an icy peak to play in the last of the remaining snow.  They befriend many alpine animals, are hunted by an eagle, and become lost in blue ice tunnels. Leaf, a cranky old hermit, and a brave pika join forces to rescue them.

The final book in the Twig Stories collection is Leaf & Echo Peak.  It’s about a volcanic eruption and adaptation to change using the amazing rebirth of Mount St. Helens’ ecosystem as an example.  St. Helens is named Echo Peak in the book. I’m finishing Leaf & Echo Peak this summer. It will be out early in 2014.

Ah, so there’s a fourth novel too! Can’t wait!
As a teacher with over twenty years experience, I think these are very valuable lessons for kids to learn and what a delightful way to learn. It reminds me of those books of long ago called ‘The Borrowers’.

Some of my favorite children’s books are Mary Norton’s The Borrowers series, and are certainly a fond influence on Twig Stories. Twigs confront aggressive beasts and meet natural disasters in their forests using only their skills, wits, and ability to ‘stick together’ when facing danger.  A.A. Milnes’ cherished Winnie the Pooh, another of my favorites, influences some of the Twigs’ many qualities.  They are loyal friends, trusting, honest, and kind, even though also naive.

These would make wonderful classroom sets. Do you have a teacher’s guide to go with them?

The Twig Stories books are really popular in the classroom and school libraries. I’m told there is always a wait list for the books. Teachers like them, but I mistakenly believed educators would know about the climate change concerns and endangered animals I wrote about. Instead I’ve been asked for study guides because many of them – even here in the Northwest – have not heard of the pine beetle crisis, rare creatures’ extinction, or are aware of the growing threats of extreme flood, drought, and wildfire.  So I’m working on the guides now. I hope to have them out next year.  Many experts in the fields of wildlife, biology, glaciology, conservation, and forestry have guided my research and reviewed the manuscripts. I’m fortunate to have their enthusiastic endorsements.

Jo, where can we buy these books? Are they available as both print books and e-books?

Yes, they are. I’d like to mention the royalties are shared with conservation nonprofits, especially those with youth programs.  All three books are on Amazon.com as paperback and Kindles worldwide. Nearly any online store like Barnes & Noble carries them also. If you go through my website’s E-store links, you can get a considerable discount on the books, especially for bulk purchases.  ~  http://www.twigstories.com

Here are the Amazon links:


Thank you so much, Suzanne, for this wonderful opportunity to share Twig Stories, and join your blog’s followers. I’m looking forward to your posts!

Thank you, Jo. This has been a very interesting interview. I really look forward to reading your books. And you can bet I’ll be recommending them to many of my teacher friends. Readers, be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of one of Jo-Marshall’s novels.


  1. These are great stories, Jo, and what fabulous illustrations. It's a great way to teach kids about the world around us. I bet children love them!

  2. I love the sound of those stories, Jo - and what delightful covers. I can imagine the little creatures helping to save their environment. Living in Scotland, I don't know much about the problems faced in your part of the world!

  3. Jo, these sound wonderful. Going to recommend to my daughter, a 6th grade teacher.

  4. Thank you so much, everyone. Your comments are wonderful and encouraging to hear. And many thanks again, Suzanne for sharing my Twig Stories books and their message of forest and wildlife conservation.

  5. Delightful covers. You've found a fun way to get kids attention and plant seeds of environmental concerns in our future leaders.

  6. What great books! Love the covers and can totally see why they're so popular :)

  7. Hello, and, thank you all again for the kind words!

    Author Cheryl Carpinello is selected for a free Twig Stories ebook. Congratulations, Cheryl! Please email twigstories@aol.com, and let me know to which email address I can send it.

    I hope everyone will enjoy a Twig Stories ebook, too. If you do, please remember to leave a review for others on Amazon.com and Goodreads. Have a great summer.

    Thanks, Suzanne. Cheers!