The Forest Keeper

Children - Grade 4th-6th
96 Pages
Reviewed on 10/12/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

The Forest Keeper is a children's book written by Mike and Carol Wyrick. Who is the Forest Keeper? Have you met him or her? Would you know if you did? What would you do? Jeremy is recovering from an illness when his mother tucks him in one night and shares a story, one that will take Jeremy on a wonderful night-time journey through the forest. It’s a story about life and love and respect and knowing the difference between right and wrong and so much more. It’s a journey that will lead Jeremy to meet the Forest Keeper and learn what it means to be chosen to follow the path. It’s a powerful, heartfelt journey, one fraught with dangers and challenges, obstacles and tests that must be overcome. And what will Jeremy learn if he does meet the Forest Keeper?

Mike and Carol Wyrick’s middle grade, early chapter book, The Forest Keeper, is an emotive story about love, wonder, and all that is, or at least should be, good in this world. The protagonist, Jeremy, slips into a dream-filled sleep that becomes a wonderful, almost magical journey of discovery through an enlightened journey. As Jeremy meets each guide along the way (wise animals of all sizes and descriptions), Jeremy learns a little bit more about himself and about the quest that he’s following. The plot develops through Jeremy’s encounters as his journey leads him closer to his goal and the answers he desperately seeks. The language is simple for a middle-grade audience to follow and there are fascinating drawings to add to the excitement and adventure of the developing plot. The story wraps up with an interesting twist, one that allows Jeremy to bring his journey into the present and the future. This is a memorable story about love and caring for others: a story about a journey of discovery: “I need you to tell them that I am about love, and that my desire is for peace and harmony… You can tell the story of your journey. You can inspire others to take their journey and encourage them along the way.”

Tiffany Ferrell

The Forest Keeper is a work of children's fiction by Mike and Carol Wyrick, illustrated by David Miles. Jeremy isn’t like other boys. Instead of playing and wrestling, Jeremy led a quiet life with his hobbies being trips to the library, theater, and music. All of a sudden, he wakes up in a forest - he has no idea how he got there and no idea how to get home. Greeted by a wise owl who tells him about the journey he is about to embark on, Jeremy soon finds out that he was summoned by The Forest Keeper who is waiting for him. He is told that he must be careful because there are many wrong paths in the forest and that the Keeper will guide him if he pays close enough attention. Without much more to go on, Jeremy sets off. He quickly realizes how hard this is going to be. What seemed harmless to him wasn’t always what the Keeper thought and the light he was supposed to follow would begin to fade. If he takes the wrong path will he ever get to go home? What if he doesn’t realize his mistake until it’s too late.

I thought The Forest Keeper was a wonderful tale full of fables that have been very satisfying to read. I really liked Jeremy’s character and enjoyed following along on his journey through the forest. As he makes his way through the forest, he encounters many challenges and situations that he must decide are good or bad for him. His character is well thought out and you can’t help but relate to him when it comes to some of the challenges that he faces. The illustrations by David Miles are also beautifully done and fit perfectly with the storyline. Overall, I think Mike and Carol Wyrick have written an amazing book and I can’t wait to read more of their work.

Joe Wisinski

The Forest Keeper by Mike and Carol Wyrick is about a fourth-grade boy named Jeremy who undertakes a long journey in an unknown land to meet the Forest Keeper. He’s guided by a fox and meets many other creatures who offer him advice and help him. They include a bear, eagle, beaver, muskrat, snow leopard, and others. Along the way, he develops courage and learns to persevere in reaching his goal, even though he doesn’t know what awaits him. He finally meets the Forest Keeper and learns the purpose of his journey, but also the greater purposes of the Forest Keeper. The book is for children in grades 4 through 6. It is illustrated by David Miles.

I enjoyed reading The Forest Keeper. The story kept me guessing, never knowing what was going to happen next, which should be appealing to children. Although authors Mike and Carol Wyrick do not specifically say so, it’s clear that the book is an allegory. I won’t say what the message the allegory is meant to deliver because I don’t want to spoil the surprise. The illustrations by David Miles are beautiful and perfectly portray what’s happening in the book. One interesting and enlightening part of the story is when Jeremy falls in with a group of boys whose behavior is inappropriate. He is pressed to go along with them, which he initially does. This scene might concern parents, but as soon as Jeremy can do so, he refuses to take part in their actions and escapes from them. The book makes it clear, both by example and by direct address, that what the boys did was wrong. The situation fits in well with the moral tone the book establishes throughout.

Samantha Gregory

The Forest Keeper by Mike and Carol Wyrick is the story of a young boy called Jeremy who thinks that he is different from his friends. He loves to disappear into a book and forget the world while his friends are more interested in wrestling. Jeremy is getting over an illness and asks his mother to tell him a story. He soon finds himself transported to a magical world in search of The Forest Keeper. His journey offers him adventure and wonder, and it helps him to grow as a person. In a world of talking animals and life-or-death situations, Jeremy really shines as he bravely takes them on. He makes good choices which children could learn from.

Mike and Carol Wyrick have created an entertaining and charming story with The Forest Keeper. Jeremy is an interesting character and I think that many children could relate to him. Not all children are sporty; a lot do prefer the world of fantasy and it is important that they are encouraged to maintain this as they get older. I think this would appeal mostly to boys, although I do think girls would enjoy it too if they are happy to read a story about a boy because there is so much to it that would be enjoyable for them. I think it would appeal to children aged around the 8 to 11 age range. I would recommend The Forest Keeper as it is different from the usual books for kids and even adults would find it fun to read.

Liz Konkel

The Forest Keeper by Mike and Carol Wyrick delivers a poignant journey through the forest with lessons in perseverance, listening, and strength woven throughout Jeremy's various encounters. Jeremy had been recovering from an illness when he suddenly awakens in a dream that sends him searching for the mysterious Forest Keeper. His journey is filled with obstacles and encounters with various animals and people that teach him lessons in strength, goodness, temptation, listening, and perseverance. The different characters provide him with advice, insight, and challenges that teach him how to tell right from wrong. He learns how to spot the difference between good and bad, which leads him to make decisions about who to trust and how to find the Forest Keeper as he faces various dangers and temptations.

Mike and Carol Wyrick use a bedtime story and candlelight to create a catalyst for a journey that embodies themes of perseverance, good vs evil, temptation from darkness, and how to make good choices. Jeremy is a character that feels like an outsider as he's more interested in theater and books. Religious undertones are woven throughout the messages as Jeremy aims to figure out how to understand the voice of the Forest Keeper from the various dangers that he encounters. The lessons are meant to guide him as he learns about goodness and how to determine between right and wrong. The core of the story focuses on understanding where goodness comes from and how to avoid stepping into the darkness in search of the light. The characters that Jeremy encounters include the owl that sets him on his journey, the fox that teaches him what the right thing means, the badger that provides an example of what's dangerous through its snarling, the eagle that warns against temptation and teaches about making good choices, and the wise bear that teaches about great mental strength. Temptations come in various forms through Jeremy's encounters including a group of kids that try to sway him into drinking and smoking.

The story is woven with various warnings against the darkness and teachings on how to choose the light. The moral lessons contain messages that help him shape his own character and learn how to say no to temptation while learning how to spot the Forest Keeper's guidance in his journey. The illustrations are black and white with vivid details that capture the stages of Jeremy's story as it comes to life through the various characters he meets along the way. The tone of the images pairs well with the story and creates a journey in rich storytelling. The Forest Keeper teaches lessons in goodness, temptation, finding the light, strength, perseverance, and listening as Jeremy comes to understand himself and his purpose.