Bambi comes into the world in a forest glade, loved by his mother, protected by a thicket. He grows up frolicking in the meadow, befriending butterflies and screech owls, and learning about the dark fear of all the woodland creatures: man. Over time, Bambi seeks out the wisdom of the prince of deer, a magnificent old stag who walks alone through the paths of the forest. Bambi is torn between his desire to be with his beloved mate, Faline, and his yearning for the knowledge and solitude the prince represents. He is also conflicted about his friend Gobo, who has returned to the forest after a winter living among humans. Gobo behaves unnaturally by strolling through the woods by day when other deer are sleeping, showing no fear of his natural mortal enemy.
This 1926 classic has been stretched and squeezed into many forms over the years, but the Felix Salten original should not be missed. With the richer, more highly wrought language of his time, Salten crafts a story layered in meaning, weighty with its message. The sometimes cruel, often joyful cycle of life continues, in spite of those who try to defy nature's law. (Ages 9 to 12) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
Departing from the cuddly-fawn model of the classic Disney film, Schulman (The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury) restores the depth of Bambi's character as she introduces young readers to Bambi: A Life in the Woods, Felix Salten's 1923 novel. Young Bambi explores his new world with wide, wondering eyes, soaking up the experiences that will help him grow into a strong, brave and independent stag. But in order to survive, Bambi must also heed the advice of the wise Great Prince and remember his mother's warnings about "Him," the two-legged "creature" who hunts the animals of the forest. Unfortunately, "He" soon claims the life of Bambi's mother, forcing Bambi to carry on alone. Combining innocence, realism and a profound respect for nature, Schulman's text swiftly moves to the heart of Salten's lessons, namely, the importance of thinking for oneself and of acknowledging that no living creature is all-powerful. Johnson and Fancher, previously paired on Copp?lia by Margot Fonteyn, provide stirring nature scenes in oil paintings of varied size and shape, dappled with sunlight or sometimes darkened by ominous shadows. Whether they are frolicking in fields of purple wildflowers or scattering at the hint of danger, the artists' deer are beauties. All ages. (Oct.)
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