By Robert Polk
Adventures, Anaiah Press
Twelve-year-old Declan Parker was only born with one eye, but all he seems to have trouble seeing in proper perspective is himself. All he wants is for kids to see him as normal before he starts a new school in the fall. To that end, he sets out to make money helping with his dad’s tree care business.
Unfortunately, when his dad lands in the hospital after a climbing accident, Declan’s surgery hopes are wrecked. His only hope remains in a neighbor girl and her uncle, a wounded army veteran. Can they help him save his dad’s business, or will Declan’s once-courageous drive turn into total despair?
Operation Tree Roper: An Eye Above is a well-crafted story about a strong, dauntless young man who redefines the value of self-reflection. Declan is a character you won’t be able to forget.
Welcome to your new favorite book...
Release Date: October 7, 2014
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Read Chapter 1 Here: http://www.anaiahpress.com/Roper.html
Operation Tree Roper was an excellent adventure story for preteen children about Declan, a preteen with only one eye whose father is in the tree care business. When his father ends up in the hospital after a climbing accident, Declan is determined to help save his father’s business and his last opportunity for a surgery that in his mind will help other kids see him as normal before he starts a new school in the fall.
Declan learns a lot about himself and others in this story. The author does an exceptional job of developing the characters and telling their stories. It’s their life stories that make them who they are and the author is able to bring those across in the telling of this tale of the tree roper.
I enjoyed the definition at the beginning of each chapter. It gives the reader (whether youth or adult) a chance to expand their vocabulary of words related to tree climbing and other associated words.
I didn’t care for the swearing that Declan sometimes used in the novel. I suppose this was used so that the character was more relatable to the readers his age, but I don’t really think the lack of the swearing would have made a difference.
The pace of the book was excellent. The book moved along quickly enough to maintain interest and the plot was plausible. As a teacher of visually impaired students I think that Declan could have learned to do what he was able to do despite only having vision in only one eye. He might have had some trouble judging distances, but with care he could have conceivably have been successful.
I liked Operation Tree Roper and I think it would be very suitable for middle-grade readers (grades 5 to 7). I gave it 4 stars.
Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.
Interview with Robert Polk
Interview with Robert Polk
Thank you for having me on your blog today! It’s exciting to be able to share a little bit about OPERATION TREE ROPER with you. As you’ll see, the motivation for my book comes from a very personal source.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since 2011.
What other books, stories etc. have you published?
Operation Tree Roper is my debut, in any genre.
What makes you want to be a writer?
When I was a guidance counselor in a public elementary school in Savannah, Georgia, I saw firsthand the power that children’s literature could have in young people’s lives. I used books (mostly picture books) to develop classroom lessons, and I knew that someday I would try to contribute to children’s entertainment and education in the same manner as the authors of the books we discussed in class.
How did you choose the topic of a tree climber for your story?
In several ways, tree climbing fit the character who’d been whispering in my ear. Climbing provided my protagonist an “escape” and at the same time, an opportunity to work with his father and make some money.
Do you have any experience yourself in tree climbing?
I was climbing trees as early as I can remember, and I grew up on four acres of wooded pasture on the edge of our small town. But it wasn’t until years later that I began using ropes and a climbing saddle. After college and a 12 year career in education, I started up my own tree care company. I ran that company for five years and preferred climbing to bucket trucks as my primary method of accessing the canopies of the trees I worked on. During that time, I held certification by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) as a professional arborist. I recently let that certification lapse, but will still climb a tree.
Why did you decide that Declan should have vision in only one eye?
Declan was initially inspired by my third child, who was born with microphthalmia. In her case, the right eye was underdeveloped to the degree that you could not tell there was any eyeball in the socket. It causes her face to have a slight asymmetrical appearance, with the right eye noticeably smaller than the left and positioned a little lower on her face.
What kind of research did you do into his visual impairment? Do you
have any personal connection to his type of visual impairment through
a family member or a friend?
I didn’t need to do too much research, as most of the knowledge about Declan’s impairment was similar to my daughter’s, and I always listened carefully when we spoke to her medical care providers and occularist.
Was it just that Declan looked a little different that bothered him or
did it make a difference to him that he was blind in one eye and
sometimes would have had to do things differently from others that
Much like my daughter, Declan is smart, spirited, and sensitive. He’s bothered by the “pre-judging” he feels (correctly or not) from the strangers who focus on his face when he’s out in public. He would notice his impairment during a trip to the movie theater where he’d be watching a 3-D movie. He wouldn’t see in 3-D, and doesn’t seem to care about that anyway. Once in a while, he’s prone to bump someone or something on his blind side, but he usually compensates for that by frequently turning his head toward his blind side.
My daughter is comfortable around people she knows and one time last school year, when her teacher asked the class to “Line up and give me your eyes”, my daughter cheekily popped out her prosthesis and handed it towards her teacher. Also, just the other day my daughter told me she wishes her eye was like Mad Eye Moody’s (the character in Harry Potter.)
What is your next project in the works?
Although I’ve always got a few picture books on low heat, I’m working on a middle grade mash up that’s given me quite a fever. It’s a contemporary story with environmental science, Native American history, and science fiction elements swirling together. It’s quite a challenge, yet very exciting to grapple with! There’s much work to do with it before I can even show any drafts to critique partners yet. But it will get there.
Robert Polk lives in western Nebraska where he shares his love of books and the great outdoors with his wife and seven children. He is a former school counselor, business owner, and tree climbing arborist. Robert participates in his church and local community, currently serving on several non-profit boards.
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