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Into the Forest Paperback – September 5, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3–After a stormy night, a boy awakens to find his father gone. The child misses him terribly, though the specifics of his whereabouts are unstated. When the boy's mother asks him to take a basket to Grandma, who is not feeling well, she warns him not to take the shortcut through the forest. Worried that he might not be home when Dad returns, the child disobeys. Starkly illustrated in black and white, with color used to highlight the boy, this forest is quite ominous. The trees are full of spikes as he enters, and gnarled with faces that loom over him on ensuing pages. The boy encounters a variety of recognizable, if a bit mean, fairy-tale characters–Jack trying to sell his cow, Hansel and Gretel, and a selfish Goldilocks. He even finds a red coat, completing his transformation as Red Riding Hood. Recalling a story his grandmother told him about a bad wolf, the boy is terrified to open her door. Yet in a surprisingly reassuring twist, he finds his comforting Grandma, who's feeling better, and also his dad. Browne's text is deceptively short, leaving much room for interpretation. As usual, his hyperrealistic, pencil-and-watercolor illustrations are full of rich details. Each child may take something different from this psychological picture book, but the reassuring ending is especially comforting. It is possible to go into the forest of dreams/the imagination and emerge even stronger.–Robin L. Gibson, formerly at Perry County District Library, New Lexington, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 3-5. In this picture book for older children, Browne's beautiful surreal imagery reveals a child's terror in ordinary life. A young boy wakes up one morning to find that Dad is gone. There is emptiness everywhere. When sad Mom asks the boy to take a cake to Grandma, he chooses the forbidden path, and he is lost in the wood. The clear pencil pictures of the forest, with only the boy in bright watercolors, show bare, shadowy trees full of frightening spikes, gaping holes, and branches like thick tentacles. As his journey progresses, the boy encounters contemporary kids in elemental fairy-tale roles-- among them, Red Riding Hood and a bespectacled brother and his sobbing sister who have been abandoned by their parents. Finally, the boy knocks on the door of Grandma's cottage--and finds Dad inside. As with most fairy tales, there's a huge turnaround at the close--a happy return home, presented in glowing color. The power of the story is in the fearful detail that reveals the child's nightmare of being forsaken. Readers older than the elementary-school audience may want to talk about the story's connection to timeless fairy tales such as "Hansel and Gretel" as well as its psychological underpinnings. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Books Ltd; New edition edition (September 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844285596
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844285594
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 0.2 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #769,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Reader on October 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Anthony Browne taps into the universal when he writes about a boy whose father disappears in the middle of the night, whose mother looks sad and worried in the morning, and then who is sent off with a cake to his ailing grandma's. He takes a shortcut through the forest, although he's been told not to, and meets several characters in the forest from well-known fairy tales. It turns out that he is part of a fractured fairy tale, himself, Little Red Riding Hood. The pencil drawings of the forest bring out the mood and emotions of the story, and the happy colors near the end reinforces the sense of relief that all the worry was not necessary.

This is a book you could read over and over, and that a child will pick up on her own to look at the pictures, because there are many details to pick up. Shadows are not what they seem (the one on the cover is a bunny rabbit) and on the Hansel and Gretel page, the shadow turns out to be Browne's kindly gorilla from earlier books. There are creatures in the trees, symbols of other fairy tales all around if you look carefully for them. There's even a one-legged tin soldier on the first page. Grandma's house has kitty ears.

This is a beautifully drawn and told story about confronting anxiety and worry. So many times children worry about what is going on in their grown-ups' lives, and they don't understand what is real and what isn't, and many times Mommy and Daddy are so worried themselves -- over a health crisis with an elderly parent, for instance -- that they don't take time to explain.

This book explains and puts it all into surreal fantastical perspective. I love picture books that work for both adults and children, and this one does wonderfully.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Solveig L. Dimon on November 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you are familiar with folk tales you may understand Into the Forest. Anthony Brown has cleverly designed a journey through the woods to grandmother's house that sets up familiar expectations and raises more questions than it answers. The book invokes the anxieties of childhood, particularly feeling lost and wondering where one's parents have disappeared to -- a bit like a bad dream where nothing actually happens. The forest is exquisitely drawn in grey pencil. Every leaf is perfectly placed on the forest floor, while the wild trees tangle together above. The longer you look, the more you see -- strange forms and figures, many recognizable from folk tales, are hidden in the tree shapes. Although I am intrigued by this book, I would only sit down to read it with my child when I am feeling secure and ready to talk with him about his anxieties and strange dreams.
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By NYC on October 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
Antonin Brown sets a very creative mood for the readers because along with reading the story, we find analogies of other fairy tales. The book starts off with a little boy being sent into the forest to deliver a cake for his very sick grandmother. He is feeling quite distressed because he hasn't seen his father for a while and he misses him greatly. The readers don't know why his father is missing, nor is the mother telling. During his travel through the woods, he's been warned by his mother not to take the short cut, but to take the longer safer route. As distracted as any other child gets, he takes the short cut and meets very interesting characters from other fairy tales. During his encounter, the background and the characters stay in a black and white while the little boy remains in color. The way the story was set up made it really suspenseful for the readers because upon the little boys encounter with the Little Red Riding hood, one might think that the wolf may be waiting for him instead of grandma. It was a relief to find that that was not the case because both his grandmother and father were there. For a child this would end the questioning about where the father was, but for the adult readers it would raise questions if the parents got in an argument and needed some time off. I think this is a great book for kids because it involves a child to be creative while reading and engaging beyond the text by finding anologies throughout. I would recommend this to any parent who is interested in empowering their childs imagination. Once again, great great book!!
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Format: Paperback
After reading some of the negative reviews, I had some misgivings about reading this book with my 5-year-old, so I went ahead and read it by myself (to make sure the content would be appropriate for her). I felt the themes addressed in this book - childhood fears and anxiety were well done without going over the top, so I read it with her tonight. She enjoyed the book, and we spoke about fear and how to cope with our worries.

Despite the rather dark overtones at the beginning of the story (the boy in the story wonders why his father is missing and then goes on a trek through the woods to get to his sick grandma's house, something his mother specifically cautions him against), the story does lighten up eventually with a neat surprise at the end. The illustrations contain references to popular fairy tales, and part of the fun is trying to look for hidden objects and references to fairy tales scattered throughout the book and found hidden amongst the illustrations, e.g. Rapunzel's tower, the big bad wolf, etc. I think children under 5 might find this book a bit over their heads, and perhaps even scary, but older children might be able to appreciate the other aspects of the book, and might facilitate a discussion on fears and anxieties.
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