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Book Review of The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown
My family and I love camping! We love sleeping in our trailer, staying up late around the campfire and looking at the stars. Roasting marshmallows and making smores is always a favorite! We love hiking and playing in the lakes and rivers. You’ll often find us reading outside amongst the trees! We love all of it! But do you know what I also love? Coming home to my house, my bed, my hot shower, and my appliances. I don’t love the laundry, but I’ll take it because it means we had fun! In The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown, Juniper’s family LIVES outside. They live in nature and don’t get to come home to their warm shower. They don’t get to come home to a washing machine—they are the washing machines!!
Juniper Berry knows how to handle bobcats, bears, and mountain lions, but can she survive the toughest predator of all—middle school?
Eleven-year-old Juniper Berry lives with her family deep in the wild woods. Living off the grid is pretty exciting, but her happy life in the wild ends abruptly when her younger brother gets sick, and they move to the city to be closer to the hospital. Juniper and her older sister end up living with cousins they hardly know and attending public school for the first time, which is harder to navigate than the wild woods ever were. Juniper feels like a wolf cub separated from her pack.
As the hospital bills for her brother start piling up, Juniper knows they’ll need to be paid before the family can go back to the woods, so she decides to make enough money to help out. With her cousin Alayna’s support, Juniper starts posting videos filled with her wisdom from the woods, hoping to get a following. But what if it doesn’t work? What if the bills never get paid? Not going home to the wild is Juniper’s worst nightmare. While she’s stuck in the city, she might as well make the most of it, like sticking up for Alayna, who’s being bullied by her supposed friends, for starters.
The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry is a story about perseverance when faced with difficult and unfamiliar challenge, belonging and finding your identity, compassion for others, and learning that our differences can sometimes be our strengths.
My Book Review:
I have loved Chad Morris and Shelly Brown’s previous books! They’re so fun and they always have the best lessons in them for the middle graders! When I saw The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry by them, I was excited to read it! Many of us enjoy camping—leaving civilization and going into nature. Juniper’s family is the opposite, they need to leave nature in order to go to civilization. Living off the grid like that may seem fun for a few days, but I’ll take my house, thank you!
At first, I felt a bit skeptical about this book because it starts off describing why Juniper’s family lives in the woods. It goes into a bit of detail about how they live in the woods because Juniper’s mom doesn’t like plastic, doesn’t like cars because they spew poisonous gases into the air, etc. I thought there might be some activism and politics in it, which I do not like in children’s books. However, that’s where it stops. The story moves on, and it really isn’t discussed again.
It’s a cute book about some challenges a family faces. I have had sick kids. I can’t imagine living deep in the woods and seeing one of my children super sick and not being able to just drive down the street to a doctor’s office. That’s one challenge. Then, the challenge for Juniper and her sister is growing up in the deep woods and suddenly being dropped into modern civilization.
Can you even imagine how difficult that would be? What is a toilet? A garage, a car, an airplane, carpet, a washing machine, a couch, all the different street signs, an oven, a dishwasher, a lock on a door, a key, fast food? The list could go on and on and on. It would be enough to make me feel so stupid. That’s not even going into their behaviors! They’d have no idea how to act in a classroom setting.
I loved the characters in this book. Juniper felt a little hard to relate to at times because she had such a different upbringing, but you could also feel her sincerity and know she was doing what she knew. Juniper’s sister Sky is even harder to relate to, and is a little grumpier, but she still has a good heart. I liked Juniper’s dad and uncle. You don’t see a lot of her mom, Clara, but when you learn her story, you understand why she thinks and believes as she does. Juniper’s cousin Alayna is not very kind at first but grows a lot.
The book is well written and has lots of great lessons. Being kind, not judging, getting to know people so you understand them better, not taking yourself too seriously, learning who your real friends are, having fun, learning new things, looking at things from different perspectives, and many more!
I enjoyed The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry and think it would be a great addition to any middle grader/junior high classroom, or home library! It’d also make a great read-aloud for parents or teachers!
Content Rating: PG
- Profanity: None
- Intimacy: None
- Violence: None (There is some harassing and bullying, but it does not get violent.)
- Other: There is a child who is very sick and is in the hospital.
Age Recommendation: Middle-Graders+
My Rating: 4/5