Books And More

A Magical Journey

Newbery Award-winning author Linda Sue Park talks about Wing & Claw: Forest of Wonders

May 09, 2016
SONYA SONES

Author Linda Sue Park won a Newbery Award in 2002 for her book A Single Shard. To date, she has published more than 20 picture books and novels. 

Raffa Santana comes from a long line of apothecaries, people who are skilled in the art of preparing medicine. When he comes across an injured bat, the 11-year-old boy feels a duty to help the creature. He journeys into the Forest of Wonders with his cousin, Garith, to search for a healing cure. The boys return home with vines from the forest, which Raffa uses to develop a remedy for the bat. While his potion brings the bat back from the brink of death, Raffa discovers an unusual side effect—the bat can now speak. Raffa soon finds out that with his invention comes great responsibility.

Newbery-winning author Linda Sue Park shares this story in her latest novel, Wing & Claw: Forest of Wonders, the first book in a planned trilogy. She explores the connection between magic and nature, family and responsibility, humans and animals. Where will Raffa’s invention lead him?

Check out the conversation with Park and a video trailer below.

TFK:

What inspired you to write Wing & Claw?

LINDA SUE PARK:

I loved the idea of apothecary and, first and foremost, I’m an eater—I love to eat. But I also love to cook and I’m interested in the issues around it, like farming and foraging, and the importance of what we eat to our health. With apothecary, you end up with those themes, and I like that part of it. And, of course, I am an animal lover, mostly dogs, but I had not yet explored having animals as main characters in my novels. So that was really interesting to me.

TFK:

Are any of the characters based on anyone from your life?

Wing & Claw: Forest of Wonders is the first book in a planned trilogy. It was published in March 2016.

DON HEINY FOR TIME FOR KIDS
Wing & Claw: Forest of Wonders is the first book in a planned trilogy. It was published in March 2016.

PARK:

I borrow and steal from everybody—from all kinds of people—and I put them together. Whether it’s human or animal, I create what I hope is a believable character.

What’s most important is that all of them have something of me in them. In order to make them real, I have to give them emotions. I can go to moments in my own life that I’m not necessarily proud of, when I did not act as I would have ideally liked to.

TFK:

Which character do you most identify with?

PARK:

I am like Raffa in that I do tend to get deeply interested in something and I like to really throw myself into it. I am impatient like Trixin.

TFK:

How would you describe Raffa’s relationship with his parents?

PARK:

I hope it’s a relationship that many, if not most, young people can relate to because there is great love there. Raffa has great love for his parents and they have great love for him. And, at the same time, he is trying to find his own path.

TFK:

What does Raffa learn about himself throughout the story?

PARK:

I think that people Raffa’s age don’t tend to learn about themselves in huge light-bulb moments. It’s sort of incremental. The first book only takes place over a series of weeks. The entire trilogy will be only a series of months. How much do any of us grow up or change in a span of time like that? I think that Raffa’s basic personality is set, but at the same time he has to learn how to fit that personality into the world.

Raffa learns that he has strengths and weaknesses. He is starting to learn how to deal with those on his own without being told how to do it by authority figures and parents.

TFK:

What’s next for these characters?

PARK:

When I wrote the book, I wanted to play with the fantasy convention of talking animals, which is almost never presented as having any disadvantages. I wanted to give that a bit of a twist. By the end of the book, Raffa has learned that he has this amazing invention of making animals talk, but it’s also having not-so-wonderful consequences. In books two and three those issues will continue, where he feels a tremendous responsibility towards the captive animals. What is he going to do about it? How is he going to help them?

TFK:

Why should kids read Wing & Claw?

PARK:

I am hoping that this book will appeal to a wide range of readers: fantasy lovers, animal lovers, people who want a good story, people who like settings that are different from where they live now. I think the book has a lot to offer many different readers and I hope that many of them will enjoy it!


Current subscribers log in/register for timeforkids.com 

Registered Users Log In

 
 
Forgot Password?
Register Now for FREE
Subscriber Benefits
Do it now to get all this:
  • Access to Interactive Digital Editions
  • Online Archives of Past Lessons & Teachers' Guides
  • Interactive Teacher Community
Website Login Page