Where the World Turns Wild by Nicola Penfold
Juniper and her younger brother Bear live a sterile existence in a city cut off from the natural world. Their grandmother Annie Rose, a licensed Plant Keeper, tends one of only two places in the city where plants are grown under restricted conditions. Juniper and Bear are both considered to be rebels and the day comes when they need to leave the city and travel through the Wild to try and reach their parents.
The novel’s opening explains the background to the story - the destruction of the environment and how a disease was created by scientists that would affect only humans, forcing them to live enclosed in cities while Nature renews the world outside. While not completely analogous to the current world situation it is certainly a thought provoking read at this time.
For Juniper and Bear, books and stories play an important part in the quality of their lives. Much of their knowledge about Nature comes from banned books about birds and plants and for Juniper The Secret Garden is a key text. Storytelling traditions thread through the book, from the fairy tale ‘Once upon a time’ language at the beginning to the woman in the woods with whom their encounter has a resemblance to the tale of ‘Hansel and Gretel.’
This book would make an interesting link with Sita Brahmachari’s Where the River Runs Gold which also has a dystopian theme, brings environmental issues to the fore, and features an adventurous girl with a younger brother making an arduous journey in search of home.