Danielle Daniel is a writer, an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator. Like many Francophones with origins in Quebec, she shares a family link to an Indigenous ancestor, an Algonquin woman who inspired her first adult novel, Daughters of the Deer (Random House Canada, 2022). Her debut middle grade novel, Forever Birchwood, flows out of her connection to the land where she was born and raised, her environmental concerns and her interest in Indigenous ways of stewardship. Her picture books include Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox (winner of the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and a Best 100 title at the New York Public Library) and You Hold Me Up (Orca Book Publishers, 2017), shortlisted for the 2018 Marilyn Baillie award. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and recently moved to Mnidoo Mnis (Manitoulin Island) with her family.
Published by HarperCollins
Adventurous, trail-blazing Wolf lives in a northern mining town and spends her days exploring the mountains and wilderness with her three best friends Penny, Ann and Brandi. The girls’ secret refuge is their tree-house hideaway, Birchwood, Wolf’s favourite place on earth. When her beloved grandmother tells her that she is the great-granddaughter of a tree talker, Wolf knows that she is destined to protect the birch trees and wildlife that surround her.
But Wolf’s mother doesn’t understand this connection at all. Not only is she reluctant to engage with their family’s Indigenous roots, she seems suspiciously on the wrong side of the environmental protection efforts in their hometown. To make matters worse, she’s just started dating an annoying new boyfriend named Roger, whose motives—and construction company—seem equally suspect.
As summer arrives, so do bigger problems. Wolf and her friends discover orange plastic bands wrapped around the trees near their cherished hangout spot, and their once stable friendship seems on the verge of unravelling. Birchwood has given them so much—can they even stay together long enough to save this special place?
With gorgeous yet understated language, Danielle Daniel beautifully captures an urgent and aching time in a young person’s life. To read this astonishing middle-grade debut is to have your heart broken and then tenderly mended.