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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Great Green Tree and the Magical Ladders by Stephen Kozan is a magical journey that weaves enchantment with life lessons. Shea is what is considered a problem child with a series of trouble-causing actions from acting out in school to finding humor in killing bugs. She's given a new perspective on her behavior when a mysterious voice draws her close and she discovers it comes from a spider with glasses who offers her a unique opportunity. The spider, named Webster, is a tour guide and Grass Kingdom Ambassador who has been sent by the Governing Council regarding her actions over the unnecessary death of Roland, the beetle she squished. She soon learns the Great Green Tree is a teaching center that educates children and creatures on their wrongdoings and gives them second chances after their bad decisions. One bite later and she's on a journey inside the tree that provides her with a series of life lessons. Each new lesson opens her eyes to the mistakes of her actions and shows the wrong of her actions toward others.
Stephen Kozan creates a world within The Great Green Tree rooted in magic with ladders that lead to other levels -- each contains a lesson that Shea needs to learn. The moment where she kills a beetle at the base of a tree is a catalyst for her whole journey by sparking Shea on her path of self-discovery. Kozan creates a unique story that takes Shea into this world governed by a Council that keeps tabs on the human world and draws her in where she befriends personified animals. The tree functions as a rehabilitation center with each new level accessed by Shea focusing on a different element of her behavior which was seen in the beginning. Each branch coincides with a character that is going through or helping with similar behaviors with Foster, Luna, Sydney, Enzo, Marina, and others that have been bullies. The illustrations are bright and vivid with stunning images that give visuals to the various bugs within the tree and a look at the magical ladders. The Great Green Tree and the Magical Ladders is an enchanting and charming story about a magical world within a tree that is run by a variety of bugs whose goal is to teach Shea and other children about lying, bullying, stealing, taking responsibility, and being kind.