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Thursday, February 8th, 2007 by

“Roger Reid said it was natural for him to set the story in the Conecuh National Forest,” wrote today’s Andaulsia Star News regarding Reid’s new young adult thriller, Longleaf.

As producer and director of the Emmy nominated Alabama Public Television program Discovering Alabama, Roger has a deep interest in educating children about the forestry of Alabama he’s offered plenty of that information — as well as a great story — in his first young adult novel, Longleaf. And now Longleaf has begun to receive glowing praise from across the state.

“It’s the addition of facts about the Conecuh National Forest that enhance the book for readers of all ages … perhaps the only bad thing about Longleaf is that is finishes so soon,” writes the Florence Times Daily. They continued, “What fills the pages, however, is not just the plot of the story and the solving of the crime. Learning that the longleaf is largely fire-resistant is fascinating in and of itself, but Reid weaves the story about this bit of information into the story thanks to his precocious teen-aged hero.”

The conservation group, Longleaf Alliance also enjoyed Longleaf, noting that “it was interesting to see familiar ponds, roads, and historical events included in this short, but worthy drama.”

From the Andalusia Star Times:

Roger Reid, author of the recently released novel, Longleaf, should know about the forest’s night sounds. As a writer, director and producer of the Emmy nominated public television program Discovering Alabama, he’s spent plenty of time there.

“A couple of the first shows we did after I joined the show were on the longleaf pine,” Reid said Thursday. “I fell in love with the place.”

It wasn’t long after that that he got the idea for the novel, in which 14-year-old Jason Caldwell, headed for a vacation in the National Forest with his parents, witnesses a crime from the window of the airplane. Before the camping trip begins, he finds his way to Andalusia, where he explains what he saw to a deputy in the Covngton County Sheriff’s Office. Soon, Jason finds himself lost among the very longleaf pines that he and his parents had been flying over only days before.

The idea stayed with him and about two years ago, he wrote the book.

“My son was 13 years old. Everything he and his sister brought home for reading material was all centered around cultural experiences. There was no natural history presented in the sense we do with Discovering Alabama.”
Reid said it was natural for him to set the story in the Conecuh National Forest.

“I used to sneak down here a lot and sleep in the forest,” he said. “Every time I get an opportunity, I’m down here.”

He said it is an age appropriate book for middle school students, and that he attempted to make it “a good adventure” that didn’t sound like a textbook.
“There’s a fifth grade teacher in Washington who’s reading it out loud to her kids,” he said. “She said they’re enjoying it and picking up new vocabulary.”

Longleaf is available now from NewSouth Books, Amazon.com, or your favorite online or local book retailers.

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