Operation Redwood

“They’re marking all the trees they’re going to log, even the ones for our treehouse. We told them to stop, but they weren’t listening to us at all. We had to do something! So we told them we’re not coming down from the treehouse until they agree not to cut down a single tree in Big Tree Grove.”

When twelve-year-old San Franciscan Julian Carter-Li chances upon an irate email sent to his Uncle Sibley filled with accusations of planned destruction of famed redwood trees, Julian decides to thwart his uncle’s plans. With the help of his journalist friend Danny and his new activist friend Robin, Julian devises a plan called “Operation Redwood” to save the doomed redwood trees. Along with Robin’s sister Molly and a visiting friend Ariel, the kids attempt to block the deforestation by camping in a treehouse situated in one of the redwood trees. Julian’s grandmother writes an article about their protest, which garners massive amounts of attention. Eventually, the public outcry becomes too much for Uncle Sibley’s company to handle, so they transfer ownership of the land to Julian, who promises to permanently conserve the beautiful and ancient redwoods.

Operation Redwood encourages youth climate activism by showing how a seemingly small protest by a group of children can lead to real-world change that results in the conservation of land and the preservation of biodiversity. The novel features a twelve-year-old who is able to recognize the injustice of his uncle’s actions and the deficient morality of cutting down ancient California redwoods for corporate, financial gain. The journey to saving the redwoods is riddled with challenges—Julian’s activism is tested by personal family problems, a lack of adult support, and the crushing weight of pushing back against a corporation. Nevertheless, he and his friends are able to persevere through the obstacles and prevent the attempted deforestation. Thus, Operation Redwood can be used to give young readers hope that they have the power to stop environmental injustices. For students who feel like they are too young to play a part in the cause they care about, the novel is an inspiring, refreshing take on what children can do in the face of ecocide.

©2024 ClimateLit (Jacob McIsaac and Hannah Yeskel)


Publisher: Amulet Books, 2011

Pages: 368

ISBN: 9780810997202

Audience: Questers (8-13)

Format: Novels

Topics: Biodiversity, Capitalism, Conservation, Corporatism, Deforestation, Ecocide, Environmental Destruction, Forests, Hope, Human Expansionism, Land Care, Logging, Redwood Forests, Youth Agency, Youth Climate Activism