Word of the week: kermode bear (pronounced kerr-MO-dee) - also known as a "spirit bear"; a subspecies of the American Black Bear living in the central and north coast of British Columbia, Canada. It is noted for about 1/10 of their population having white or cream-coloured coats.

Indie Author of the Month: Please Come Meet . . . Jo Marshall

One thing I love just about as much as golden retrievers is reading YA and middle grade fantasy books—yes, even at forty-two years old—and indie author Jo Marshall’s middle grade fantasy series has captured my interest.

Back when I worked as an acquisitions editor for a small press, I was fortunate enough to had been “submitted for my consideration” a very intriguing synopsis about brave little twig creatures who lived in huge forests and had adventures of their own. Oh, sample chapters were an absolute must see!

But alas! Before I’d had a chance to request these, Ms. Marshall had decided to pull her projects from places submitted, including ours, and I thought for certain I’d never get the opportunity to read it.

Fortunately for us, Ms. Marshall had decided to indie publish her projects. What a thrill it was to discover these stories now available to readers! Please do consider connecting with and/or supporting this author and her projects. So well worth it!

But author Jo Marshall can explain it all so much better than I can. So here she is to present her wonderful middle grade fantasy series. . . .

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Thanks, Kimberly, for sharing my children’s books Twig Stories with your group of friends. It’s great you’re curious about the series, and the underlying theme of conservation, too.

Twig Stories are eco-literary adventures about tiny, stick creatures living in an old growth forest, and are geared for children ages 8 to 12. They take place in the present day – the ‘anthropocene geologic era’ of earth’s history. That means man has changed the surface and atmosphere of the planet to such an extent the entire world’s environment is impacted. The consequences are profound.

The stories center on the exploits of one young, boyish Twig named Leaf. He lives in a giant cedar with his family, and dreams of exploring the world beyond his tree-home. Through his journeys the reader discovers his beautiful forest is under attack from a warmer world. Fun, thrilling fantasies are then set in the realm of scientific fact.

As the seasons are growing warmer in Leaf’s forest melting glaciers create violent floods. Also, insects attack wildlife and destroy trees. Explosive wildfires erupt. Even worse, the rare and beautiful creatures of the forest, prairies, and mountain peaks are vanishing! For example in the real world in British Columbia the critically endangered spirit bear, or kermode bear, just barely survives due to reduced habitat. The burrowing owls, which live in the grasslands, are under threat from wildfires. Beavers have to be reintroduced into western areas in the US where they are near extinction. Even worse, there may only be 40 woodland caribou left in the Pacific Northwest. Yet, Leaf and his companions endure with skill, optimism, humor, and courage.

In Leaf & the Rushing Waters an outburst flood from a melting glacier traps his family in their tree-home, so Leaf must search for goliath beavers to build a mighty dam. In the real world, the use of beaver dams is a natural solution to mitigate worsening flood and drought caused by an unusual climate shifts.


In Leaf & the Sky of Fire, Leaf leads an escape from swarms of mountain pine beetles, which in the real world have already destroyed entire forests in western North America. The dying trees infested by bark beetles also create uncontrollable wildfires.

In Leaf & the Long Ice, Leaf must journey to the shrinking glacier of Echo Peak to find his runaway brothers. During this wild and funny adventure we also learn many of the rare creatures of the ice may go extinct without their alpine habitat. The loss of the glacier’s ice and fresh water seems inevitable.

In the last story, Leaf & Echo Peak, climate change has reached its tipping point. The only choice left is to adapt to its inevitability. However, if Twigs are anything, they are enterprising and ingenious, so they persevere, confront their challenges, and along with the plants and animals in the forest adapt and survive.

One might wonder why go through all this trouble just to tell stories about shy, stick creatures, who have few resources to battle climate change? Twigs hope their heroic acts may urge children and adults to think of ways to protect their own local ecosystems. By taking care of our own tree-havens and being environmentally aware, we may help to lessen the impacts of global warming.

The best part of Twig Stories is the opportunity to contribute more to conservation youth programs and fundraising efforts. Twig Stories’ royalties are shared with wildlife and forest conservancy nonprofits.

Most recent release ~ 
Leaf & the Long Ice ~ Paperback 

The Twig Stories website offers a 20% discount on the paperbacks ~
Tweet Jo: @Twigstories.
Follow her Pinterest boards: @Twigstories
Facebook author page:
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  1. Hello, Ms. Marshall. What beautiful book covers! I don't read much children's fiction, but the covers scream "buy me!" so I just might have to. :D

    1. Hello, Ms. Ellyn. Thank you for your enthusiasm about David Murray's wonderful art for the covers. His illustrations inside are terrific, too. You have a very intriguing series, too, so I joined your blog. Looking forward to your posts, and learning more about your books!

  2. Thank you again Kim for this super looking post, and for being such a generous host. It's a privilege and great fun to be followed by 'Devon Winterson's' book fans! Best wishes for your passionate support for golden retriever rescues. I always enjoy your blog, so today's interview is extra special!

    1. You're very welcome, Jo! Thank you for being an interviewee! Your series is wonderful, and anything I can do to help spread the word . . . :D

  3. Thank you for profiling Jo, Kimberly.

    These sound like an ideal way to get children much more environmentally aware of the world around them.

  4. I totally agree, William! :) Jo's a wonderful author. Had I still been the AE for the small publishing company I worked for, it's highly, highly likely we would have accepted her work. :D But I'm glad she did it this way; she can share more of what she earns with the nonprofits she supports rather than have a publisher take a cut.